Makar Sankranti is among the most auspicious occasions for Hindus and is celebrated in almost all parts of India. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated in many cultural forms with immense devotion, fervor and cheerfulness. The festival is celebrated on 14th January and is possibly the only Indian festival whose date always falls on the same day each year with just a few exceptions.
Observances: Kite flying
Type of holiday: Traditional, Seasonal
Featured in religions: Hinduism
Also called: Sankaranthi
Date: day when the Sun begins its movement away from the Tropic of Capricorn (mid-January), 14 January, 15 January
Main Attraction : The various festivities of the different states are the main attractions. Also, the day of
Makar Sankranti is considered to be auspicious and meritorious.
Makar Sankranti is considered as one of the most auspicious days for Hindus. The festival is celebrated differently in different parts of India. Thousands of people take a dip in the river Ganga and pray to the Sun God. The southern parts of India also celebrated the festival as Pongal and in Punjab as Maghi. In Gujarat, celebrations are huge as people offer colorful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. It stands as a metaphor for reaching to their beloved God.
In rural and coastal areas, cock fights are held as an important event of the festival. As the festival is celebrated in winters, food prepared in this festival is made to keep the body warm and give energy. Laddu of Til made with Jaggery is the festivals speciality. The festival of Makara Sankranti also honours and pays respect to Saraswati - Goddess of Knowledge. Makara Sankranti represents a period of illumination, peace, affluence and happiness.
Many Melas or fairs are also held on Makar Sankranti. The most famous among them is the Kumbh Mela which is held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magh Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela) held annually at Prayag, the Gangasagar Mela (held at the head of the Ganges River), Tusu Mela in parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal, Makar Mela in Orissa, etc are some of the other fairs celebrated on this day.
Some Intresting Facts about Makar Sankranti
- Why is it called Makar Sankranti?
On Makar Sankranti, the sun enters the sun-sign of Capricorn or Makara (the Indian rashi). Therefore the 'Makar' in the name. The word 'Sankranti' signifies the movement of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. Thus, the name of the festival literally means the movement of the sun into Capricorn.
- Day and night are equally long.
As Makar Sankranti is one of the oldest solstice festivals and falls on the equinox, day and night on this day are believed to be equally long. Post the festival, it is officially the beginning of spring or the onset of Indian summer and the days become longer, and nights shorter.
- Same festival, a million different names.
Though extremely popular as Makar Sankranti, the festival is predominantly a harvest festival and is celebrated throughout India, from north to south and east to west. While Makar Sankranti is most popular in West India, down south, the festival is known as Pongal and in the north, it is celebrated as Lohri. Uttarayan, Maghi, Khichdi are some other names of the same festival.
- Why do we consume til-gul?
Makar Sankranti is the festival of til-gul where sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are distributed among all. They are generally accompanied by the saying, "Til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola", which translates to 'eat these sesame seeds and jaggery and speak sweet words'. The festival is one of bonding where every member of society is asked to bury the hatchet with enemies and foes and live in peace. Also, it is a superstition that during the festival, the Sun God forgets his anger on his son Shani and visits him. Thus, by distributing sweets, everyone is asked to spread joy around. Also, since the festival falls in winter, eating of sesame and jaggery is considered beneficial to health as they are warm foods. Thus, it is specifically this sweet that's distributed as it signifies bonding and good health.
- Why do we fly kites on Makar Sankranti?
There is a very interesting reason behind the kite-flying. Kite-flying in olden days was generally done in the early hours of the morning, when the sun's rays were bright but not too harsh. Also, during kite-flying, the human body was exposed to the sun for long hours. The early morning sun is considered beneficial for the skin and body. Since winter is also the time of a lot of infections and sickness, by basking in the sun, Hindus believed that the bad bacteria on their bodies would be cleared to a certain extent. Creating a fun way of sun basking where no one would even realise they were reaping benefits was through kite flying. Cool, right?
Makar Sankranti generally marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh while in South India, in Kerala, one of the most austere and difficult pilgrimages of Shabrimala ends on this auspicious day. Other parts of the country too, celebrate by taking a dip in the holy rivers flowing through states to cleanse themselves of sins. It is also believed that if you die during Makar Sankranti, you are not reborn but go directly to heaven.
Pure topaz is colorless and transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine red, yellow, pale gray, reddish-orange, or blue brown. It can also be white, pale green, blue, gold, pink (rare), reddish-yellow or opaque to transparent/translucent.
Orange topaz, also known as precious topaz, is the traditional November birthstone, the symbol of friendship, and the state gemstone of the US state of Utah.
Imperial topaz is yellow, pink (rare, if natural) or pink-orange. Brazilian Imperial Topaz can often have a bright yellow to deep golden brown hue, sometimes even violet. Many brown or pale topazes are treated to make them bright yellow, gold, pink or violet colored. Some imperial topaz stones can fade on exposure to sunlight for an extended period of time.
Blue topaz is the state gemstone of the US state of Texas Naturally occurring blue topaz is quite rare. Typically, colorless, gray or pale yellow and blue material is heat treated and irradiated to produce a more desired darker blue.Mystic topaz is colorless topaz which has been artificially coated giving it the desired rainbow effect.
Topaz is a fairly common and inexpensive gemstone. It can be found in huge and flawless crystals, which can be faceted into giant gemstones which can weigh thousands of carats. Some of the largest gemstone pieces ever cut were of Topaz.
Topaz is a hard and durable gemstone, and will not dissolve in most chemical solvents. However, it does have perfect cleavage which can make it prone to chipping or forming flaws if banged hard. Topaz is also a pleochroic gemstone and can have varied color intensity when viewed at different angles. Due to its good cleavage and pleochroic nature, care must be exercised when faceting Topaz gemstones.
Blue Topaz does occur in nature, but is rare and almost always lightly color. Most if not all blue Topaz used in jewelry has been irradiated and heat treated to artificially create the blue color. The original stones are colorless or lightly colored, and the radiation process gives them their deep sky-blue colors. In a few rare circumstances, some forms of blue Topaz tend to slightly fade in exposure to sunlight after extended periods of time.
Topaz of all different colors are used in jewelry, in rings, earrings, necklaces, pendants, and bracelets. The blue, orange, and pink colors are most often cut as gemstones, and colorless Topaz is becoming increasingly popular as an inexpensive Diamond simulant. Gigantic gems and faceted spheres are cut from huge flawless crystals, and these make exquisite and exclusive collectors items. Topaz is rarely cut into cabochons.
Topaz is the traditional birthstone for November.
With the exception of Imperial Topaz, all the variety names below are trade names that were coined by dealers in the jewelry trade. These names have become widely used despite them being names made up by jewelers in modern times. There are also several additional made-up variety names sometimes given to different forms and colors of Topaz. The list below only describes those names that have become terms used extensively in the jewelry market.
Azotic Topaz - Orange-pink Topaz with a rainbow-like color effect. Its color is synthetically colored by film deposition of an extremely thin metallic layer over the top of the gemstone. Azotic Topaz is named by the company that introduced this, Azotic.
Imperial Topaz - Lustrous golden orange-yellow, orange-brown, or orange-pink variety of Topaz and is its most valuable gem form.
London Blue Topaz - Topaz with a deep sky-blue color. It is darker in tone than Swiss Blue Topaz.
Mystic Topaz - Multicolored Topaz with a rainbow-like color effect. Its color is synthetically colored by film deposition of an extremely thin metallic layer over the top of the gemstone.
Rutilated Topaz - Topaz with yellow needle-like inclusions of the mineral Limonite. Rutile Topaz is very similar in appearance to Rutilated Quartz, hence the name Rutile Topaz. However, the name is a misnomer, since unlike Rutilated Quartz which has inclusions of the mineral Rutile, the inclusions of Rutile Topaz are not Rutile but rather Limonite.
Sherry Topaz - Topaz with a light orange-brown to brownish-pink color.
Silver Topaz - Colorless form of Topaz. Synonym of White Topaz.
Swiss Blue Topaz - Topaz with a sky-blue color. It is lighter in tone than London Blue Topaz.White Topaz - Colorless form of Topaz.
Treatments And Enhancements
Blue Topaz, the most commonly used Topaz color, is formed from colorless or lightly colored Topaz that is irradiated to make it blue, and then heat treated to stabilize the new color. Different forms of radiation treatment can produce different shades of blue. Most pink Topaz in the gem trade is heat treated from yellow or brownish Topaz.
The colorful Mystic Topaz and Azotic Topaz are synthetically treated to produce their rainbow/multicolored effect using film deposition. The process involves bonding an extremely thin metallic film layer over the top of the gemstone, so that the interesting color effects are reflected from the crown.
The largest Topaz producer is Brazil. Other sources are in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, China, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mexico, and the U.S. (California, Utah, and New Hampshire).
Considered to be the most magical of all gemstones, opals have an unfortunate reputation for being bearers of bad luck and evil. Read on to learn more about the opal and the many beliefs that surround this mystical stone.
India a land full of festivals. Being a highly spiritual country festivals are at the heart of the people. There are many popular festivals in India.
Navratri is one.
Navaratri is a festival dedicated to worship the Hindu deity Maa Durga (Maa Amba). Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning Nights. Navaratri represents a celebration of the Maa Maa Amba. Navaratri or Navadurga Durga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Maa Amba of during these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Navaratri is an important major festival and is celebrated all over India and Nepal. Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dussehra. Navratri festival is celebrated twice in a year with great devotion and fervor in all over India. First time it is celebrated as Chaitra Navratri or Vasant Navratri in March-April and second time as Sharad Navratri in the months of September-October. During Chaitra Navratri ninth day is celebrated as Ram Navami while after Sharad Navratri next day is celebrated as Dussehra or Vijayadashami, the victory of good over evil.
The five types of navratri are as follows:
They are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri, the Sharad Navaratri, the Paush/Magha Navaratri and the Magha Navaratri. Of these, the Sharad Navaratri of the month of Puratashi and the Vasanta Navaratri of the Vasanta kala are the most important. The other two are observed by shaktas only.
- Vasanta Navaratri: Vasanta Navaratri, it's nine days are dedicated to the nine forms of Maa Amba in the month of Chaitra(March–April) and is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Chaitra. The beginning of this Navaratri also marks the start of the new year as per the Hindu mythological lunar calendar (Vikrami Samvat).
- Ashad Navaratri : Ashad Navaratri, also referred to as Gupta, Gayatri or Shakambhari Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Maa Amba in the month of Ashadha(June–July). It is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon). This is mostly observed by shaktas (hindu devotees of maa amba) only
- Sharad Navaratri: This is the most important of the Navaratris. It is simply called Maha Navaratri (the Great Navaratri) and is celebrated in the 'pratipada' (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad(beginning of winter, September–October).
- Pausha Navaratri: Paush Navaratri is observed during the PaushaShukla Paksha, the waxing phase of moon, in the month of December–January.
- Magha Navaratri: The Magha Navaratri is also a kind of Gupta Navaratri. The waxing phase of moon in January–February marks the beginning of Magha Navaratri.
Sharad Navaratri is the most popular one.
Sharad Navratri (Maha Navratri)
In eastern India, the festival is celebrated as Durga Puja. Huge statues of the Maa are made and immersed in the holy Ganges River. The festival is an extremely social and theatrical event, with drama, dance, and cultural performances held throughout the country. People worship the Maa where they keep fast during the day and then they play garba at night.
Navratri celebration and worshipping style is different in every state of India but the devotion is same. It is celebrated widely in every part of India with great enthusiasm with a different name of Maa, like in Gujarat devotees worship as Maa Jagdamba while in West Bengal it is named as Maa Durga. In Kolkata people build huge Pandals at various places for Maa Durga and set up great idols of Maa Durga for worship. In Gujarat, Dandiya and Garba are the two popular dance forms which are performed by the people during Navratri festival.
Here’s a list of dates followed by name day and which colour to be wear:
October 1st 2016
October 2nd 2016
October 3rd 2016
October 4th 2016
October 5th 2016
October 6th 2016
October 7th 2016
October 8th 2016
October 9th 2016
October 10th 2016
October 11th 2016
Some Key Points to Remember for Navratri:
- Sustaining only on fruits and milk for the entire fasting period.
- Involving yourself in prayer or 'prarthana' and long meditation sessions.
- Keeping awake all night and participating in 'bhajans' along with family members.
- Keeping the mind focused on spiritual activities by reading 'Maa Durga Shaptashati' and listening to 'vrat katha' or stories/episodes relating to the nine forms of Ma Maa Durga.
- Wearing different colors each day to honour Ma Maa Durga's nine forms, such as red on the first day.
- Tying a garland of fresh flowers every day to the idol/photograph of Maa Maa Durga.
- Doing charity which includes donating food to the needy.
- Thinking pure thoughts during the auspicious period. Eating only one meal a day, a vegetarian preparation without onion and garlic.
- Lighting 'Akhand Jyot' or a constantly burning 'oil lamp' in front of Maa Maa Durga's idol or picture for the entire period.
- Planting nine varieties of food grains to appease the nine planets.
- Performing 'arti' in front of the idol/photograph of Ma Maa Durga.
- Abstaining from wearing leather shoes, shaving, paring nails or cutting hair during this period.
- Avoiding wearing black colored clothes.
- Inviting married women and seeing them off with auspicious betel nuts and coconut.
- Honoring Maa Durga Ma's nine forms by worshipping nine girls and preparing special meal for them.
- Coinciding the day of starting new ventures or new purchases with Ashtami (eighth day)/Navami(ninth day).
- Choosing to fast only on the first, fourth and seventh day of Navratri festival.
Garba is a Gujarati folk dance celebrated in Navratri, a celebration lasting nine nights. Garba songs typically revolve around the subjects of Lord Krishna or the nine Maaes. Sanedo is an example of a very popular song. Garba styles vary from place to place in Gujarati
Garba is a form of dance which was originated in the state of Gujarat in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha (womb) and Deep (a small earthenware lamp). Many traditional garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp or a picture or a statue of Maa Amba. The circular and spiral figures of Garba have similarities to other spiritual dances, such as those of Sufi culture. Traditionally, it is performed during the nine-day Hindu festival Navratri.
Modern garba is also heavily influenced by Dandiya Raas,a dance traditionally performed by men. The merger of these two dances has formed the high-energy dance that is seen today.
Garba and Dandiya Raas are also popular in the United States where more than 20 universities have Raas/Garba competitions on a huge scale every year with professional choreography. Garba is also very popular in the United Kingdom where there are a number of Gujarati communities who hold their own garba nights and widely popular among the Gujarati community even in Canada, where the largest navratri festival in the western world is held annually in Toronto. They say "Ae Hallo" for fun, which means "Come on! Let’s start!".
How People Dress During Navratra’s
Both men and women usually wear colorful costumes while performing garba and dandiya. The girls and the women wear Chaniya choli, a three-piece dress with a choli, which is an embroidered and colorful blouse, teamed with chaniya, which is the flared, skirt-like bottom, and dupatta, which is usually worn in the traditional Gujarati manner. Chaniya Cholis are decorated with beads, shells, mirrors, stars, and embroidery work, mati, etc. Traditionally, women adorn themselves with jhumkas, necklaces, bindi, bajubandh, chudas and kangans, kamarbandh, payal, and mojiris. Boys and men wear kafni pyjamas with a Ghagra - a short round kurta - above the knees and pagadi on the head with bandhini dupatta, kada, and mojiris. There is a huge interest in Garba among the youth of India.
The traditional costume of the Garba dancer is red, pink, yellow, orange, and brightly colored Chanya choli or ghagra choli; odhini with bandhani (tie-die), abhla (big mirrors) or with thick Gujarati borders. They also wear heavy jewelry, such as 2-3 necklaces, sparkling bangles, waist belts and long oxidized earrings.
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