January 14 is Makara Sankranthi or Pongal. This article is in commemoration of Lohri / Bhogi, Sankranthi / Pongal.
Makara Sankranthi marks the beginning of Uttarayana ( a six month period). The Sun will be directly over Tropic of Capricorn (23 ½ degree “S” Latitude - it passes through Australia) at this time. Sun starts its Northward movement from this moment. This will normally be on 14th of January. Uttarayana is considered auspicious for all events, while the Dakshinayana is banned for many auspicious events like Upanayana, Aksharabhyasa etc. Thus the onset of Uttarayana is celeberated as a festival of joy by one and all. The day is celeberated by the agricultural community as a Fresh produce day. Fresh produce is used to prepare varieties of food and enjoy. One popular recipe is known as Pongal its chief constituents being Rice, Jaggery or Sugar and Ghee. The festival is also known as Pongal because of its chief use / popularity.
The point of time when the sun leaves one sign of zodiac (Each sign is also referred as a House or Rashi – Sun’s orbit is depicted as a circle with Earth as centre and the circle is divided into 12 equal parts of 30 degrees each – each segment of 30 degrees being called a House or Rashi – Each house or Rashi has been given a name – names from Mesha, Vrushabha, . . . . Kumbha and Meena) and enters another is called Sankranthi or Sankramana. In other words, Sankramana is said to occur every time sun enters a Rashi. This event is a milestone for Souramana (measure based on movement of Sun). Sankranti marks the beginning of a Soura month. Each Sankramana is known by the name of the Rashi the Sun is entering. Thus the sankramanas are Mesha Sankramana, Vrushbha Sankramana etc.
Makara Sankranthi (14 January) Purusha Lakshana: Manda is the name - indicates Peeda to brahmins. Bathes in shankodaka, sitting on Dog, holding Pasha (rope as weapon) in hand, wearing black colour blouse, copper brown clothes, smeared Turmeric essence, wearing Seesa (Lead) jewellery, holding a kabathra coloured umbrella, uses akshatha (grains) of horse gram, wearing Kamala flowers, holding madhu phala, holding Stone vessel, eating root vegetable. Is elderly , belongs to Kshatriya Clan , has a smiling face, is in an upward looking posture, looking Down and is moving towards South West. Phala: All items used by the Sankranthi purusha will either become costly or perish.
Read here to know the significance of Soura Masa (Solar Month) and Dakshinayana and Ayana Uttharayana Punya kaalas , Vakya Sankramana
Click here to read how does one celebrate Ugadi ?