The basis of Materialised as per Hindu Dharma is the puja vidhi or rituals of Deities. Today, what we see around is that in the name of puja, people just pour water quickly over an Idol, apply tilak of gandha (Sandalwood paste), offer some ﬂowers and wave an incense stick. However, can this hurried act be ever called puja of God,
Makara Sankranti or rarely known as sugad pujan is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that has been observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. Makar Sankranti is considered as a great boon for the people who give offerings to Lord Suryadeva. The lord is believed to travel in all the 12 zodiac signs throughout the year and therefore called as Sankranti.
Sankranti or sugad pujan festival marks the travel of Lord Suryadev to the zodiac sign of Capricorn. Thus, this holy day is considered by all Indians as the day to worship Lord Surya and prays to him for his blessings. Lord Suryadev controls happiness, character, life, nature, possessions, paternal relations, and many other important kinds of stuff and various other aspects of a person’s life.
So by offering immense respect to him, the people are blessed with a happy and peaceful life.Sugad pujan or we say Sankranti falls on January 14 every year. But this date is same continuously for the past 100 years or so. In the last few centuries, sugad pujan or Sankranti was around January 9 and in the next coming century, it shall be around January 23. It always keeps on shifting, which is contrary to the belief that it stays on the same day.
The Belief and Eminence of Makar Sankranti
It is a belief that all the Hindu Gods and Goddesses acquire human form and roam on the face of the earth near the holy meeting point of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. They take a dip in the holy waters of the Sangam and for that reason people flight to this confluence to take a holy dip or bath. It is believed that all their sins will be washed off if they take an auspicious dip into the water.
Importance of Makar Sankranti
Sankranti is essentially a family festival and is observed with great sincerity. This festival is itself in it very much popular among the people who give offerings to Lord Suryadev on this day. As per Brahma Samhita .
yac-cakṣur eṣa savitā sakala-grahāṇāṁ
rājā samasta-sura-mūrtir aśeṣa-tejāḥ
yasyājñayā bhramati sambhṛta-kāla-cakro
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
The sun is the king of all the planets, full of infinite effulgence, and the image of the good soul.Even Sun is known as the eye of this world. I adore Lord Govinda in pursuance of whose order the sun god performs his journey climbing the wheel of time. The sun has been considered as the eye of the supreme person. In the Purusha Sukta it’s said.
The moon was from the mind, sun from his two eyes, Indra and Agni from his mouth and Vayu from his breath.
Since the sun holds an esteemed position, it is very nice on the part of the person to offer respect to him. As per the Vedic suggests, we are advised to offer arghya to the sun daily before starting our day. This process has got a lot of effect on the life of the common man and therefore, morning is the best time to worship and propitiate the sun god by the help of mantras and powerful brahmins chants.
Sugad pujan or Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of India states but with some different regional process. It is known by different names with different other customs in different parts of the state as well as outside India.
- Suggi Habba, Makara Sankramana, in Karnataka
- Sankranthi: in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana
- Sankranti: inChhattisgarh, Goa, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Jammu
- Thai Pongal: in Tamil Nadu
- Uttarayan: in Gujarat
- Maghi: in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
- Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu: in Assam
- Shishur Saenkraat: in Kashmir Valley
- Khichdi: in Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar
- Poush Sankranti : in West Bengal
- Tila Sakurai: in Mithila
Apart from India in other countries too Sankranti festival is celebrated by Hindus, but with different names and in different ways.
- Nepal: Maghe Sankranti or Maghi- /Khichdi Sankranti
- Bangladesh: Shakrain/ Poush Sangkranti
- Pakistan (Sindh): Tirmoor
It is celebrated differently across the Indian subcontinent. Many people take a dip in sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna etc and pray to the Surya Deva. It is celebrated with glory in southern parts of India as Sankranti in Karnataka (Tamil Nadu), and in Punjab as Maghi. And with many other names in other parts of the state.
Many melas or fairs are held on the occasion of this Sankranti. The most famous is the Kumbha Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations which are amely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. These 4 locations are mainly known for this mela. The Magha Mela or we say the mini-Kumbh Mela held annually at Prayag) and the Gangasagar Melan was held at the head of the Ganges River, where the river flows into the Bay of Bengal. By the name Makar Mela it is famous in Odisha.
Tusu Mela also called as Tusu Porab is celebrated in various parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal. And Poush Mela is an annual fair and festival which takes place in Santiniketan, in Birbhum District of West Bengal.
Preparations for the Makar Sankranti Puja or Sugad pujan
The preparations for the Makar Sankranti Puja takes place in Hindu houses in different ways. They are as follows
- Everyone starts cleaning the entire house and especially the Puja room or area.
- On the day of Sankranti, the person who performs the Puja in the house, as well as the other members, takes an oil bath in the early morning.
- The whole house is beautifully decorated with color rangoli patterns particularly at the entrance and a garland of orange and white flowers and mango leaves is hanged in the doorways.
- An idol of Lord Surya is placed on a high platform in the Puja room.
Ingredients Required for a Traditional Puja
The ingredients used for a traditional Makar Sankranti Puja are as follows:-
- Holy water of the Ganges
- Betel nuts and leaves
- Akshata is actually a mixture of turmeric powder and rice powder
- A mix of sesame seeds and jaggery is also offered as the Pradsadam in front of the idol
- Sugarcane, which is also a part of the ritualistic offering is being offered to the Sun God.
Offering to the Deities require Baayna, where Teo Ghevars, four laddoos are made from black Til or sesame seeds, four Laddoos made from white Til and some coins, money are being placed on a Thaali. This puja also includes another Thaali that has Boondi Laddoos which are made from Besan,and a bowl of clarified butter.
It is also a mandatory ritual to send this Baayna to the sister or daughter who has been married.
How is the Puja Performed?
The Baayna is created and placed before the idol image of Lord Suryadev. The Thaali where one place the Ghevras and the eight black and white Til Laddoos and money is very important.
There are different varieties of rituals that is, the manner in which these are placed and presented, but usually people sprinkle some dry rice or we can say that Roli on the Baayna.
This mixture of Roli and rice flour is therefore applied as a tilak on the forehead before you sit for the Puja which acts as a purification. The heads must be covered with Saree or Dupatta and one is required to rotate them four times over the Baayna. After completion of the Puja, this Baayna is now been given to the sister, sister-in-law, daughter, or daughter-in-law or anyone else who might be the relative or other known people, who is married.If there’s no one in one’s family then we can offer that too the Brahmins as well.
Sankranti or the sugad pujan is a very essential festival which is observed with utmost sincerity. Another interesting thing is that the Brahmins are invited for a meal and are offered belongings like blankets, torches, fans, utensils etc. But they ought to be fourteen in number.
What should be gifted on makar sankranti ?
Nowadays wrong items are being gifted like soaps and various other plastic items have started. Instead, substances that are complementary to spiritual practice and are indicators of a married life, for example, incense sticks, ubtan (fragrant powder used during bath), religious texts, Holy texts, pictures of Deities, CDs on spiritual topics etc. should be gifted.