Sankranti is the Sanskrit word, which refers to the transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi (zodiac in Indian astrology) to the other. Hence there are 12 such sankrantis in all. However, the Sankranti festival usually refers to Makara Sankaranti, or the transition of the Sun from Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to Makara rashi (Capricorn). This festival takes place around 21 days after the tropical winter solstice (between December 20th and 23rd) that marks the starting of Uttarayana, which means northward journey of the Sun.


While the traditional Indian Calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranti is a solar event. So while dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing as per the Gregorian calendar, the date of Makar Sankranti remains constant over a long term, 14 January. Makara Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha. (Source: Wikipedia article)


Apart from a harvest festival, this festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is known as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family from this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.


Sun God paper Mache - SRPM - 09 - 27
All over the country, Makara Sankranti is observed with great fanfare.  As it is a festival of the Sun God, which is regarded as the symbol of divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it. In the western Indian state of Gujarat, people offer thousands of their colourful and beautiful kites as a form of oblation to the Sun. The act stands as a metaphor for reaching to their beloved God, the one who represents the best. Makara Sankranti identifies a period of enlightenment, peace, prosperity and happiness followed by a period of darkness, ignorance and viciousness with immense sorrow. The six months of northern movement of the sun is followed by six months of southern movement.



In the Swaminarayan faith, the Uttarayan festival has evolved such that is has additional spiritual significance for all satsangees who believe that on this day a Saint can make a special request for Alms or donations of grains which are placed in their “joli” (cloth bag).


There is a special smruti of Param Pujya Pappaji where one day on the 14th of January, Param Pujya Pappaji arrived at Gunatit Jyot and having taken his seat in Panchamrut hall and saying Jai Swaminarayan to all benos, he asked this question:   “I have come today as a Sant to your door seeking Alms. What will you give me as a donation in my Joli?”...  All the benos smiled and said Jai Swaminarayan and replied in answer “Please tell us and we shall donate that which you request” and to this Pappaji replied:   “I do not want anything from you....only your ‘garva’ (Ego). Seek out that which is holding you back in your Sadhana....what are your personal obstacles. Make a decision to donate that. That is all I want.” Since then, every year the Swaroopo at Gunatit Jyot remind us that at this time of year we should reflect on the previous year, and identify where we have struggled to overcome our egos. We can then make a fresh resolution and pray for strength to start anew on our journey towards Godhead – to become one with God we pray for his help to overcome that which keeps us apart.


At other times Param Pujya Pappaji would speak about the Uttarayan kite festival and encourage all to participate in the fun activities. ‘Anand Karo’ was his moto. At the same time, he would talk about the significance of the Kite and how we should recognise that our own Sadhana and life journey is similar to the Kites journey.


PPP kite001


The Kite is like your will rise and fall with the cannot control it...or so you think. In fact the Kite has a thread that is attached and held by a person down on the ground. That person is really in control – they can let the thread slacken or they can tug at the thread and this in turn allows the kite to rise high or come back towards the earth.


It is the same with your mind, your life and your sadhana. When your mind rises and falls you perceive happiness and sadness. But the real controller is God. He is your Atma Sakshi- your inner witness. He holds the thread. He allows you to rise and fall with the wind. The wind represents all other forces and events around you. These events seem to control you and cause you happiness and unhappiness. But that is not the reality. You are not thrown into the winds. You have an anchor. He is your guide and your strength. Your rise and fall is in His hands. God is the controller for us. If we have this outlook on life then even when our life appears to be on a downward trend, we can see that we are safe and He is controlling everything. We can remain happy.


In short, this is a metaphor where the principle message from Param Pujya Pappaji is “Prapti No Kef rakho. Kon Mila He!”.....Always be fearless and remain in blissful thoughts that we belong to GOD and that He cares for us; we are literally in His hands.


Author: Pujya Pannaben Visani

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