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Makar Sankranti is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India and is also one that falls in the first month of the year. The festival is also one of the few Hindu festivals that falls on the same date every year. It is usually on January 14 or 15 every year and in 2017, it is on January 14. Makar Sankranti is known by different names in different parts of the country for instance, it is called Uttarayan in Gujarat, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Maghi in Harayana and Himachal Pradesh. ALSO SEE 11 photos of India celebrating Makar Sankranti Also Read - Haryana News: Shopping Malls Except in Faridabad, Gurugram Can Reopen; Restaurants at 50% Capacity

The festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring as the sun moves northwards towards the Tropic of Cancer. This also marks the movement of the sun to the zodiac sign of Capricorn, the first sun sign after the winter solstice.  Since all the events point to the movement of the sun, Makar Sankranti is celebrated to thank the sun god by offering him prayers on the festival. Did you know Makar Sankranti marks the end of long nights and on this very day, the duration of day and night are equal. Also Read - We Have Named Her 'Priyanka Twitter Vadra': UP Deputy CM's Jibe at Congress Leader

Makar Sankranti Sangam Ganga

Different rituals are followed in different states but the festival is considered very auspicious as it marks the beginning of warmer days. People take dips in holy rivers to wash away their sins and also pray for peace and prosperity. The auspicious time of the month is known as Uttarayan which is another name for Makar Sankranti as well. People wake up early in the morning and head outside to soak in the morning sun. In Gujarat, people fly kites on their terraces and in grounds and even have competitions for it. The idea is the same, to get as much Vitamin D as possible from the morning sun as later during the day, it can get too hot. ALSO SEE 7 facts about Uttarayan

Not just in India, Makar Sankranti is also celebrated in Nepal for the same reason that it marks the beginning of longer, warmer days. It also marks the end of the calendar month Poush which is an inauspicious period. The festival is called Maghe Sankranti in Nepal. People follow similar rituals of taking a dip in rivers and eating and distributing sweets.

In Indian states, Makar Sankranti is celebrated by praying to the sun god and then eating dishes made out of jaggery and sesame seeds. In some parts, people also make khichdi which is a mix of rice and lentils. The festival is usually of one to two days and people wear new clothes on the auspicious occasion. It is usually celebrated on a large scale with the entire community as most of the rituals take place out in the open like on the terrace, ground, river or pond. Makar Sankranti is one of the first festivals of the year and so, the celebrations are full of energy and excitement.


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