Makar Sankranti, which falls in the Hindu month of Magh, is a harvest festival. It celebrates the advent of Spring. Unlike most other Hindu festivals, Makar Sankranti is based on the solar calendar.
Makar Sankranti marks the commencement of the sun's journey to the northern hemisphere (Makara raasi), signifying the onset of the Uttarayana Punyakalam.
Bhishma, the legendary hero of the Mahabharat, chose to die on this auspicious day. As the popular tale goes, Bhishma had a boon whereby he could choose the time of his death. He waited on a bed of arrows, created by Arjun, so that he would depart from this world during this period. It is believed that those who die in this period do not have to suffer the cycle of rebirth.
Makar Sankranti, considered a very auspicious day for Hindus, is celebrated in almost all parts of the country with great devotion, fervour & gaiety.
Makar Sankranti traditionally falls on January 14 except for leap years, like 2008, when it falls on January 15.
Image: A man takes the ritual bath at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers in Allahabad on the first day of Makar Sankranti.
Photographs: Manan Vatsyayna/AFP/Getty Images
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