Makara Sankranti or Maghi, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the god Surya (sun). It is observed each year in January. It marks the first day of the sun’s transit into Makara (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days
Makara Sankranti 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. Being a festival that celebrates the solar cycle, it almost always falls on the same Gregorian date every year (January 14), except in some years when the date shifts by a day for that year.
The festivities associated with Makar Sankranti are known by various names, such as Maghi (preceded by Lohri) by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs, Makara Sankranti (Pedda Pandaga) in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal,Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu by Assamese, and Thai Pongal by Tamils.
This festival is dedicated to the Hindu religious sun god Surya.This significance of Surya is traceable to the Vedic texts, particularly the Gayatri Mantra, a sacred hymn of Hinduism found in its scripture named the Rigveda.
Makara Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly, people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri.
A shared cultural practices found amongst Hindus of various parts of India is making sticky, bound sweets particularly from sesame and a sugar base such as jaggery .This type of sweet is a symbolism for being together in peace and joyfulness, despite the uniqueness and differences between individuals.
For most parts of India, this period is a part of early stages of the Rabi crop and agricultural cycle, where crops have been sown and the hard work in the fields is mostly over. The time thus signifies a period of socializing and families enjoying each other’s company, taking care of the cattle, and celebrating around bonfires, in Maharashtra and Gujarat the festival is celebrated by flying kites.
In Gujarat, from December through to Makar Sankranti, people start enjoying Uttarayan. Undhiyu and chikkis are the special festival recipes served on this day.
In the major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Jamnagar the skies appear filled with thousands upon thousands of kites as people enjoy two full days of Uttarayan on their terraces.