Mythological Stories Behind Makar Sankranti


Makar Sankranti festival is one of India’s oldest and most beloved festivals is steeped in rich mythology and fascinating legends. Celebrated with fervor across the country, this festival marks the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn, or Makara. The Makar Sankranti mythology is a tapestry of divine tales that add layers of depth and reverence to this auspicious day.

Makar Sankranti mythology

The Victory of the Deities and Worship of the Sun

Are you know? one of the central stories in Makar Sankranti mythology involves the Sun God, Surya. On this day, Surya is believed to begin his northward journey which entering the Capricorn (Makara) constellation. This transition is symbolic of longer days and the end of winter season sowhich is celebrated as a time of renewal and hope. According to the myth, the gods defeated the demons on this day and thus, special prayers are offered to Surya for his blessings.

Bhagirath’s Penance and the Descent of Ganga

Another captivating legend within Makar Sankranti mythology is the tale of King Bhagirath. His intense penance led to the descent of the sacred Ganga river to earth. Bhagirath’s ancestors had been cursed by Sage Kapil, and to liberate their souls, he sought to bring Ganga from the heavens. The river’s descent on Makar Sankranti is celebrated with holy dips in its waters, believed to cleanse sins and bestow blessings.

The Marriage of Shiva and Parvati

A charming story from Makar Sankranti mythology recounts the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Their union, which took place on this auspicious day, symbolizes the harmonious blend of divine masculine and feminine energies. The marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated with great joy, and it holds special significance for married women, who pray for marital bliss and longevity.

The Relationship of Surya and Shani

The relationship between Surya (the Sun God) and his son Shani (Saturn) is another intriguing aspect of Makar Sankranti mythology. Their strained relationship found harmony on this day, marking a moment of reconciliation. This legend emphasizes the importance of familial bonds and overcoming misunderstandings, adding a layer of moral teaching to the festival.

Bali Raja and Vishnu’s Vamana Avatar

Makar Sankranti mythology also includes the tale of King Bali and Lord Vishnu’s Vamana avatar. Bali was a generous and powerful demon king who ruled with justice. Vishnu, in his dwarf form, Vamana, asked for three paces of land. Upon granting the wish, Bali realized Vamana’s true form as Vishnu and was sent to the netherworld. However, Vishnu granted him a boon to visit his people once a year during Makar Sankranti, thus the day is also seen as a celebration of Bali’s benevolence and Vishnu’s protection.

Conclusion

The Makar Sankranti mythology is a treasure trove of divine narratives and moral lessons. Each tale associated with this festival is a testament to India’s rich cultural heritage and spiritual depth. The myths not only provide a backdrop for the celebrations but also impart values of devotion, righteousness, and familial harmony. Through these stories, Makar Sankranti becomes more than just a festival, it becomes a reflection of timeless traditions and an occasion for spiritual reflection and renewal.

FAQs

Q. What is Makar Sankranti?

Ans: Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated to mark the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makara). It signifies the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of longer days.

Q. Why is Makar Sankranti important?

Ans: Makar Sankranti is significant because it marks the sun’s journey northward, symbolizing the end of winter and the start of the harvest season. It is also a time for spiritual renewal and worship of the Sun God, Surya.

Q. What are some key legends associated with Makar Sankranti mythology?

  • Surya’s Transition into Capricorn: Celebrates the sun entering Capricorn, symbolizing longer days.
  • Bhagirath’s Penance and Ganga’s Descent: King Bhagirath’s penance brought Ganga to earth to liberate his ancestors.
  • Shiva and Parvati’s Marriage: Marks the auspicious union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
  • Surya and Shani’s Reconciliation: Highlights the reconciliation between Surya and his son Shani.
  • Bali Raja and Vishnu’s Vamana Avatar: King Bali’s story and his annual visit to his people.

Q. How is Makar Sankranti celebrated?

Ans: Makar Sankranti is celebrated with various regional customs, including flying kites, taking holy dips in rivers, preparing special sweets like sesame and jaggery, and performing rituals to honor the Sun God.

Q. What is the significance of flying kites during Makar Sankranti?

Ans: Flying kites is a popular tradition during Makar Sankranti, symbolizing the joy and freedom associated with the onset of longer days. It is also believed to be a way to get closer to the sun.

Q. Why do people take holy dips during Makar Sankranti?

Ans: Taking holy dips in rivers, especially in the Ganga, is believed to cleanse sins and bring blessings. It is a ritual rooted in the myth of Bhagirath bringing Ganga to earth.

Q. What are some traditional foods prepared during Makar Sankranti?

Ans: Traditional foods include sweets made from sesame seeds (til) and jaggery (gur), like tilgul and til ladoo. These foods are not only delicious but also provide warmth and energy during the winter season.

Q. How does Makar Sankranti promote family values?

Ans: The legends associated with Makar Sankranti, such as Surya and Shani’s reconciliation, emphasize the importance of familial bonds, understanding, and harmony.

Q. Is Makar Sankranti celebrated only in India?

Ans: While Makar Sankranti is primarily celebrated in India, similar festivals are observed in various parts of South Asia, including Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, each with its unique customs and traditions.

Q. What is the spiritual significance of Makar Sankranti?

Ans: Makar Sankranti represents spiritual enlightenment, the victory of light over darkness, and the beginning of an auspicious period. It is a time for self-reflection, prayers, and seeking blessings for a prosperous year ahead.

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