Why different Sankramanas?
Sankramana being a point of time can occur at any part of the day. This occurrence during evening / night times makes it difficult to observe the prescribed rituals, say Tharpana. One explanation given is that at least one of the three sankramanas viz. Vakya, Soorya Siddhantha, Drigganitha may occur at a convenient time and that could be followed instead of having extreme difficulties / non observance due to extreme difficulties.The exact time of Sun’s entry into a Rashi is referred as Punya kala (Auspicious time). Religious observations are prescribed during these punya kalas. Mainly the observation consists of Bathing in Sea / Rivers / Ponds / Wells (in decreasing order of importance), and offering oblutions to the departed souls. These are naturally accompanied with a period of fasting.
There is a saying that the one who does not bathe during a punyakala will suffer with diseases during seven generations. Persons who have last their parents have to perform shraddha. Persons who give danas, will enjoy the same items (whatever is given as dana) during their next birth. During Makara Sankranthi usage and give away of Til (Ellu) is given lot of prominence. Ellu as such is not normally received by anybody. Therefore preparations of different varieties of sweets using Ellu are made and used and given away. This is common across the whole of India – sweets being of their own region.Danas (donations) are another important prescription.
The prescribed items of dana are: During Mesha sankramana – Goat, Vrushabha sankramana – Cow, Mithuna – Food and clothes, Karkataka – Ghee and Milk, Simha – Umbrella and gold, Kanya – Household articles, Thula – Til (Ellu) nad Milk products – Milk, Curds and Ghee, Vrushchika –Light, Dhanus – Clothes and Vehicles, Makara – Firewood and Agni (Fire), Kumbha – Cow, Water and Fodder and Meena – Land, Garland of flowers etc.Based on the exact time of Sankramana, the characteristics of Sankranthi purusha ( an imaginary character representing the Sankranthi) are drawn up. These characteristics indicate the general picture for the ensuing year from the sankramana.
Makara Sankranthi purusha lakshana is believed to be the dominating characteristics for the whole year.