Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Pongal(Sankranthi)



                                      HAPPY SANKRANTHI 





Sankranti is the biggest festival celebrated in Southern part of India and it is one of the most auspicious occasions for Hindus.This festival belongs to Sun god and as he is regarded as symbol of divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it. Sankranti is celebrated almost in all parts of India and Nepal. It means the transmigration of sun from one rashi to another as per Indian astronomy. Hence there are 12 Sankranthi’s in a year. They are marked in sidereal solar calendars, Bengali calendar and Georgian calendar. Important of the twelve is :




1. Ayan Sankranti:- Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti are two Ayan Sankranti which are also known as Uttarayana(6months time period when sun moves into Northern hemisphere) Sankranthi and Dakshinayana(6months time period when sun moves into Southern hemisphere) Sankranthi respectively. These are conceptually equivalent to winter solstice and summer solstice in Hindu calendar and these Ayani Sankranti are drifting apart from seasonal Solstices due to precision of earth. For thousands of years of time these two Ayan coincide again with seasonal Solstices.






Makar Sankranthi:- It signifies the transition of Sun into Makara Rashi( Capricorn) on its celestial path. Our Indian calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranthi is a solar event. The date of Makara Sankranthi lies constant for a long term which is Jan 14th.



2. Maha Vishuva Sankranthi:- This signifies the new year in the traditional Hindu Solar calendar. This is celebrated as Vaisakhi by Sikhs and North Indians. On this day sun enters the sidereal Aries ( mesha rashi). It is also known as Mesha Sankranthi and Pana Sankranthi. Mesha Sankranti and Tula Sankranti are the two which belongs to this. They are also known as Vasant Sampat and Sharad Sampat respectively. These are conceptually equivalent to Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox in Hindu calendar and these vishuva sankranthi are drifting apart from seasonal equinoxes due to precision of Earth. These two sankranti’s coincide again after thousands of years.



3. Vishnupadi Sankranti:- Simha Sankranti, Kumbha sankranti, Vrishaba Sankranti and Vrischika Sankranti are the four which belongs to this segment.



4. Shadshitimukhi Sankranti:- Meena, Kanya, Mithuna and Dhana Sankranthi’s are the for which belongs to this segment.



Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Sankranthi marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season. It is not known when exactly this festival began but it can be traced back to the Sangam age ie 200BC to 300AD, as historians have identified pongal with Thai Un and Thai Niradal which were celebrated during the Sangam era. As part of the festivities, maidens of the Sangam era observed penance during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January). A major festival during the reign of the Pallavas (4th-8th century AD) was “pavai nonbu” observed by maidens during Thai Niradal, in the Tamil month of Margazhi. Young girls (kanyas) prayed for rain and prosperity and avoided milk and milk products the entire month. They would bathe early in the morning, not put oil on their head, and did not use harsh words in their speech. They worshipped goddess Katyayani whose idol was they made with wet sand. This penance would end on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai (mid January - mid February). This tradition is supposed to have given birth to the festival of Pongal.



On this day, everyone wears new clothes, prays to God, and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors who have died.





On the day after Makara Sankranti, the animal kingdom is remembered and in particular, the cows. Young girls feed the animals, birds and fishes as a symbol of sharing. Travel is considered to be inappropriate, as these days are dedicated for re-union of the families.



 Sankranti in this sense demonstrates their strong cultural values as well as a time for change and transformation. And finally, gurus seek out their devotees to bestow blessings on them.





This festival Sankranti is celebrated in almost every village and town with adventurous games in South India. 



Whether it is the cock fights in Andhra, Bull fighting in Tamil Nadu or Elephant Mela in Kerala, there is huge amount of illegal betting but the so-called "tradition" continues to play a major role in the festival.





Another notable feature of the festival in South India is the Haridasa who goes early in the morning around with a colourfully dressed cow, singing songs of Lord Vishnu (Hari) hence the name Haridasu (servant of Hari). It is a custom that he should not talk to anyone and only sing songs of lord vishnu when he goes to everyone's house. 



During these days people from Hyderabad fly kites from terraces of their buildings. Children and elders enjoy this kite flying occasion.





Mythological Significance:-



One of the most important myths is the death of Bhishma Pitamaha in the Mahabharata. Bhishma chose the Uttarayan period. (Bhisma had got a boon from his father that he will only die when he wishes.) It is believed that people who die during Uttarayana merges with the Brahman, thus ending the cycle of rebirth.




Legend also has it that Lord Vishnu buried Asuras on this day beneath the Mandara Mountain. It signifies the end of evil and the dawn of righteousness.





Another legend is that King Bhageeratha brought Ganges down into Patala on Makara Sankranti day. This was to get salvation to his ancestors who were cursed by Sage Kapila and turned into ashes. On this day millions of people take bath in the Ganges. Makara Sankranti is also an important bathing date during Kumbh Mela and Magh Mela. 





Puranas state that on Makar Sankranti day, Surya visits Lord Shani. In mythology Lord Shani, is the son of Surya.






2 comments:

  1. Happy sankranti to you too :) Awesome post with apt info and images...

    Regards,
    Sindhu
    Tantu
    The Arts & Me

    ReplyDelete