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Happy Makara Sankranti

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Happy Makara Sankranti

Makara Sankranti or Maghi, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity 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 (also called Poush sôngkrānti), Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu by Assamese, and Thai Pongal by Tamils.

Makara Sankranti is observed with social festivities such as colorful decorations, rural children going house to house, singing and asking for treats in some areas (or pocket money), melas (fairs), dances, kite flying, bonfires and feasts. The Magha Mela, according to Diana L. Eck (professor at Harvard University specializing in Indology), is mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Many observers go to sacred rivers or lakes and bathe in a ceremony of thanks to the sun. Every twelve years, the Hindus observe Makar Sankranti with one of the world's largest mass pilgrimages, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event. At this event, then they say a prayer to the sun and bathe at the Prayaga confluence of the River Ganga and River Yamuna at the Kumbha Mela, a tradition attributed to Adi Shankaracharya.

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