The new calendar year of 2019 has begun and we are soon going to celebrate the festival of Makar Sankranti on January 15, 2019. The day marks the first day when Sun enters into the Makara or Capricorn constellation. A festival of harvest which honours the sun, for years has been celebrated on January 14. For the last hundred years, Makar Sankranti has always been marked on January 14, but this year, it goes a day ahead. January 2019 Festivals, Events and Holiday Calendar: Makar Sankranti to Lohri to Republic Day, Know All Important Dates and List of Hindu Fasts for the Month.
So why is there a shift in the dates this year? Makar Sankranti is a festival that is observed according to the solar cycles as opposed to several other festivals which follow the lunar calendar. There is a change in the planetary configuration of the Sun. During the day of Makara Sankranti, the sun rays come in from the North direction which is considered to be the abode of Gods. Makar Sankranti falls in the Hindu calendar solar month of Makara. It marks the end of the month of the winter solstice in India. Makar Sankranti Recipes: Celebrate the Indian Solar Festival with These Traditional Dishes.
Makar Sankranti ends the period of Malmaas (an inauspicious month in the Hindu calendar). The sun transitions into the zodiacal sign of Capricorn or Makara, which marks a seasonal shift. The festival is dedicated to worshipping the Sun god. While Makar Sankranti is celebrated in some states, other states bring in the festivals of Lohri (North), Bihu (Assam) and Pongal (South). These three festivals have nothing to do with the solar or Hindu calendar so they all will be celebrated on January 13 and 15. Different communities carry on different traditions of celebrating this harvest festival. After 100 years, the celebratory date for the Hindu festival differs this time.