Friday, January 13, 2012

MAKARA SANKRANTI





MAKARA SANKRANTI


THE HINDU RELIGIOUS THANKSGIVING DAY
[I-DISCOURSE BY KAMALA RAGHUNATHAN & N. R. SRINIVASAN] JANUARY 2012

 
Makara Sankranti is celebrated with great religious, social and moral significance, all over India. This falls in the Hemanta ritu, the celestial ritu (season) in India which corresponds to December-January of each year. Unlike in the US, there are six seasons in India, of two months duration. These are Grishma ritu (summer June -July), Varsha ritu (rains, July-September), Sharad ritu (autumn, October-November), Hemanta ritu (early winter December-January), Shishira ritu (winter, January-March), Vasanta ritu (spring, April-May). Invariably, Makara Sankranti falls on the 14th of January. This and the Tamil New year's day are the two Hindu festivals that fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar. Makara Sankranti signifies the crossing of the Sun to the Tropic of Cancer.

 

A solar month in the Hindu calendar refers to the time required by the sun to pass through one zodiac sign and consists of 30 risings and settings of the sun. The twelve zodiac signs are: Mesha(Aires), Vrushabha(Taurus), Mithuna(Gemini), Kataka(Cancer), Simha(Leo), Kanya(Virgo), Tula(Libra), Vrishchika (Scorpion) Dhanus (Sagittarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Meena (Pisces). The sun moves one degree in a day of 24 hours and one zodiac in a month as we observe from the earth. The time when the sun leaves one sign and enters another is known as 'Sankranti' or 'Sankramana'. The Sanskrit term 'Sankranti' means 'San' to come to-gether and 'Kranti' means a radical change, that which heralds the beginning of a great change. The Sanskrit term 'Sankramana' means, to begin to move. The sign in which the travel commences is the name given to that Sankranti. For Hindus, this day is sacred and is celebrated with prayers* and festivity. When the sun enters the zodiac sign 'MAKARA', Uttaraayana Sankranti is celebrated to mark the beginning of the sun's journey in the northern solstice ('ayana' in sanskrit). Ayana, solstice refers to the journey of the sun. 'Uttaraayana', the northern journey covers the zodiacs from Makara to Mithuna (Capricorn to Gemini). 'Dakshinaayana', the Southern journey covers the zodiacs from Kataka to Dhanus (Cancer to Sagittarius). The day on which the Sun begins to move northwards is called 'Makara Sankranti'.

 

As we all know, the earth moves around the sun in an orbit. It takes the earth one year to go around the sun. During this movement the earth's axis is tilted. On December 22, the South Pole is closest to the sun. To the people on earth, it seems like the sun starts moving from the South to the North in December. This movement in the northerly direction is called 'Uttaraayana Punyakaala' meaning the holy period of Northern directional movement.

 

Vaikuntham the abode of Vishnu is in uttara (the northern direction). This is said to be the shortest route to the Lord's abode. The gate to 'Swarga' (path to Vaikuntha) is believed to open on the day of Makara Sankranti. Bhishma, the grandfather of the Pandavaas and Kauravaas, waited on his deathbed of arrows for the onset of the celestial season (Hemantha ritu) for finally departing from planet earth, on his journey to Vaikuntha. It is the day on which we pay homage to him and strive to become "men of firm resolve" ourselves. Brahmins offer oblations to the departed ancestors on this important day. The Upanishads and Bhagawad Gita tell us that those who die, during those six months of Uttarayana Punyakaala, (northern course of the sun) attain salvation. This is the day when elaborate prayers are offered to the sun god 'Surya'. The sun is the most visible personification of the Lord, to the humans on earth. The Lord's pristine excellence can be seen through the operation of his power in nature. Some scriptures mention that there are 12 suns. These are energies behind energies, power behind power, one transcending the other, until the twelfth sun is reached. The eleventh sun is Sudharshana Chakra and the twelfth sun is Naraayana himself. The sun is considered the presiding deity of the eyes, to direct our vision to the pure and holy, the sacred and divine. Makara Sankranti is holier than all other Sankrantis that occur during the Hindu calendar. It is the day when man dedicates his activities for the higher purposes of attaining divinity by following the northward path, Uttaraayana the noble path. Hindu almanacs (Panchangas) every year predict the effects of Makara Sankranti Devata like the planet Sani. She is also venerated described as follows;
"ashtabahus-chatur-vaktraahy-ashtakarnaashta loechanaa | Shashhti yojana visteernaanch-aunnatye satayojanaa || Saptaayudha dharaa ghoraa pralamboshtee tripaadagaa| Oordhvakaysee viroopaakshee Sankraantee purushaakritih ||

 
She has a fearful demeanor with eight arms, four faces, eight ears, eight eyes, three legs, occupying sixty yojanas of area and one hundred yojanas tall with male like features. She carries seven weapons and with hanging out lips, erect hairs and fearful eyes she is fearful to look at.

 
With her powerful influence she is believed to influence global events and individual lives.

 

Here is the story of a young devotee named Aandal, who after much prayer and devotion, joined Lord Ranganatha at the latter's invitation at Srirangam, and attained salvation. As the story goes, Aandal was young baby found in the flower garden of Periazhwar who was the residing priest at the temple in Srivalliputtur. He adopted this baby and nurtured her to groom into a beautiful young damsel. She would weave garlands for the Vishnu deity at the temple, and would adorn these garlands on herself before sending them to the temple. In the Hindu custom nothing is worn, tasted or smelt if it is to be offered to the Lord Almighty. Ignorant of what his daughter was doing, one day Periazhwar walked into her, who posing in front of the mirror adorned with these garlands. Shocked by Aandal's actions, he reprimanded her and barred her from ever wearing garlands that were destined for the Lord. That night, Lord Ranganatha appeared in his dreams and commanded Periazhwar to let his daughter Aandal wear the garlands before they were brought to the temple to be decorated on the idol. Ultimately she observed vratha for the whole month of Margashirsha, assumed the role of a gopika, composed 30 songs called Thirupaavai and united with Lord Ranganatha in Sri Rangam.

 

According to the Gita this is the celestial (Hemantha-rithu) month which is focused for observance of penance and "aaradhana" (worship) to the Lord. Among the12 months in a year I am Margasheerrsha says Lord Krihna in Bhagavdgeetaa. As you all know Brahman is often referred as Samvatsara implying thereby h He is Time. The Dhanurmasa Aaradhana is a special early morning worship conducted everyday during this month in temples and homes. This month is set aside for one to totally surrender to the Lord and is also considered to be the "Brahma Muhurtham" or the wake up time for the Devas. In Tamil Nadu, Vaishnavites recite "Tiruppavai" honoring Aandal and "Tirupalliyezhuchi", while Shaivites recite the Thiruvempaavai, which glorifies Lord Shiva. On the 30th day Sankranti is celebrated as a culmination of Margazhi and the starting of Thai (Makara/Pushyam). It is said, that Uttaras (Devathaas) and Dakshinas (pithrus) confer blessings and vigorously support the devotees at this time to reach the Lord Almighty without any hindrance en-route.

 

In Maharastra and North India, devotees of the Lord attach great importance to Makara Sankranti. It is the season chosen by the Guru for bestowing his grace on the disciple. Sweets made of (til) sesame seeds are exchanged with the words 'Til gul ghya ani god bola' meaning eat the sweet and speak sweetly. In the South, it was about this time Mahadeva favored several of the rishis (sages) by blessing them with his beautiful vision. It is also a day for flying kites. International kite competitions are held on this day in Gujarat. Thousands of multi-colored kites fill the sky.

 

Pongal (overflow) is the name used by the people of Tamil Nadu to celebrate Makara Sankranti. It is closely connected with agriculture and the harvest season. Symbolically, the first harvest is offered to the Almighty and the Sun God, who has enabled cultivation of the crop. During Pongal, landlords distribute food, clothes, money to the laborers who work for them. The keynote of the Pongal festival is, to be charitable, to be generous and treat your employees as your bosom friends.

 

The day prior to Pongal is called Bhogi festival. Houses are cleaned and sometimes painted days before. On this day, old worn out and useless items are burnt in a bonfire. The main entrance of the house and door ways are washed, wiped clean, and kolam designs are applied all through the house. Bhogi signifies the cleansing of the mind of its ill thoughts and feelings, while symbolically burning them up, with a firm resolve to tread the path of love with truth and purity from this holy day onwards. It is believed that reciting the Adithya-hrudaayam on this day before sun rise, to be very auspicious. Food is cooked, offered to the Lord and usually a sweet filled pancake like crepe, is made called "poli or holige". This day is also dedicated to Surya Namaskaram, or oblations to the Sun God.

 


 

During Pongal, puddings, sweet rice and other delicacies are prepared in every home especially in South India. The pot in which the rice is cooked is beautifully adorned with turmeric leaves and roots, the symbols of auspiciousness. The doorways are decorated with mango leaves and plaited coconut leaves. The doorstep entrance is washed and when dry, decorated with Rangoli or kolam designs with dry rice flour or liquid rice paste. Huge stocks of sugar cane decorate the yard. All wear new clothes. The cooking is done by the women of the house with great fervor and devotion. The pot is placed on the stove, and when the milk in which the rice is being cooked boils over, the members of the family assemble around the pot and shout "Pongalo Pongal". Special prayers are offered in the temples and in homes. After the conclusion of prayers the household gathers and part-takes the offerings in an atmosphere of love and festivity. This is the time of family reunions.

 

The next day is earmarked for "Kannu Pongal" (Kannu means calf). On this day women visit their parent's house as a means of touching base with their roots. Young girls and women prepare various colored rice and head to the river banks or water tanks. Rice balls are made and laid out on banana leaves with broken coconuts and bananas. Cooked rice is fed to the fish and other creatures. Birds appear and feed on the food that is set out in the open. Crows appear in large numbers and part-take the food. It is very interesting to note that before the crows eat, they call their mates to part-take the food that they are about to eat. Valuable lessons can be learnt here, to share what one has with his near and dear and friends. It is customary in Brahmin families for the women to offer these rice balls to the elements of nature and pray for the welfare of all at their parent's home, and their husband's. Usually this is done near the 'Brindavan' of Tulsi at home. These acts serve as 'Bhootayagna' an offering of food to the living creatures like ants, insects, birds, fish etc. Brothers give gifts to the sisters, who pray for their well being. Feasts are prepared and the whole family part-take in it.

 

In Tamil Nadu, the same day in the evening, the cows are cleaned, bathed and decorated with flowers and worshipped. This is a day dedicated to the cattle which have helped in the fields in ploughing and harvesting. The cattle are taken in procession from house to house, cowherds are offered gifts. In some villages the youth demonstrate their valor by literally taking the bulls by the horns, and often win their brides. Some of these venues also support gambling at a very low level. This day is also called "Mattu Pongal" or cow pongal.

 

In Karnaataka, the Mattu Pongal day is celebrated the day after Pongal, and the next day is dedicated to Kannu Pongal. It is also customary to prepare a mixture out of fried sesame seeds, cubical copra, cubical jiggery and cubical sugar candy called "Ellu" and distribute it among friends and relatives with the blessings of Sankranti Devi to ward off evils during the whole year. Sometimes children seated on wooden planks are sprinkled with this mixture to get blessed by the Sankranti Devi and the vermilion-lime red colored water (called aarati) is waved to ward off evil eyes.

 

In North India, particularly in Punjab, "Lohri" is celebrated at this time. Sugarcane juice, jaggery (brown sugar lumps) and sesame seed sweets are distributed. Huge bonfires are lit and sweets and rice are offered to the fire God.

 

KUMBHA MELA AND MAKARA SANKRAANTI
Allahabad (Prayaag) in Uttar Pradesh is the scene of this mammoth annual bathing festival. Prayaag is located at the confluence of the three rivers Ganga (known as Ganges), Yamuna and the under current, mythical river Saraswathi. This bathing festival and religious fair known as the Magha Mela begins on Makara Sankranti day which is also the first important Snaan (holy bath) or bathing day of this festival and continues for about a month or month and a half thereafter. Every six years, the Maagha Mela is upgraded to Ardha Kumbha Mela or the half kumbha mela. Every twelve years it is called the Maha Kumbha Mela, and the Maha Maha Kumbha Mela occurs once in 144 years. The next, Maha Maha Kumbha Mela will be celebrated in 2012. A dip in the holy river at any time of the day is considered auspicious, but there are various times of the year and various years when it is even holier. Maagha Mela is one such time. The Maagha Mela has been happening for centuries. Popular legend traces the origin of this bathing festival to the beginning of the Universe. The devataas or celestial beings and rakshaas (protectors who later turned to be demons) were squabbling for 12 days over the valuable pot of Amrita (nectar of immortality). Vishnu, the preserver took it away from the site of the quarrel and was flying along, carrying the pot. In his hurry four priceless drops of nectar fell at Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. These Teerthaas (holy places) literally acquired a reputation where human beings could wash their sins away to cross over to the celestial world. Makara Sankranti is considered to be the holiest among all holy days.

 

LORD AYYAPPAN and MAKARA SANKRANTI
Lord Ayappa is the reincarnation of Lord Dharma Sastha. Dharma Sastha was the son of Mohini and Shiva, destined to destroy Mahishi, the demon who became vicious to the Devataas and the Rishis, after obtaining a powerful boon from Brahma. King Rajasekharan of Pandalam found a human child with a golden bell around his neck (Manikantan) crying "Ayyo" "Appa" while he was on a hunting expedition. Thus this baby was named Ayyapa and also Manikantan. The temple of Lord Dharma Sastha at Sabarimalai was renovated by King Rajasekharan at the request of Ayyappan. On Makara Sankranti day there was a terrible storm which hindered visibility. When the rain abated giving way to fog, Ayyappa was seen merging into the idol of Lord Dharma Sastha in the sanctum sanctorum, while the king was contemplating to crown him as his successor. The king was heart broken and implored Ayyappan to take the reigns of the kingdom. Ayyappan however went into eternal meditation for the betterment of the world and assured to wake up from his meditation every year at the time of Makara Sankranti to see the world. He also suggested to the gathering that the people could adorn his idol with all the ornaments that they had made for his coronation ceremony. Lord Ayyappan closed his eyes and entered back into meditation. From then on Makara Sankranti has been celebrated with pomp and glory by devotees observing this ritual (vrata) for 41 days. Tradition continues till date for devotees to carry "Irumudi Kattu" (pooja items in a twin bag carried on the head) and visit Sabarimalai (Sabari hills) to pray to Lord Ayyappa. Makara Sankranti pooja is an important occasion in all Ayyappa temples on this holiest day. It is on this day that Makaravilakku (the Light of Makara), a mysterious divine light is seen on the Kaantamalai hill—also called Ponnambalamedu—and disappears. Thousands of devotees assemble on this day just to watch the divine light. Wherever Hindu from Kerala are settled there is sure to be an Aiyappan Temple raised!

 
When Sankranti is celebrated in this manner, people feel the change in values deep in their hearts. One begins to understand that the real wealth is in the goodwill and friendship of one's relatives, friends, neighbors and employees. One's wealth is the land on which the food is grown, the cattle which helps ones cultivation of the land, and also provide milk. One begins to have greater appreciation, love and respect for those living beings that enable one to live. It is a day of thanks giving to everything that makes ones life evolves. In Tamil Nadu the month of Thai begins on this Sankranti day and as the saying goes 'Thai pirandaal vazhi pirakkum" which means, "when the Month of Thai is born, paths will open up" meaning opportunities will come along. The month of Margashirisha is considered a solemn or austere month and no new ventures are undertaken. People wait for the birth of the month of Thai, to start new businesses, conduct weddings and other auspicious activities.

 

It is important to understand the true meaning of the celebration of Sankranti; not only it is a fun and festive occasion, but also a time for one to reminiscent on the deeper meaning and truth of this event. One should contemplate on the deeper truths of ones personal life, of nature, of the outside world, of the deeper meaning implied in the relationships between oneself and others and of the 'Atman' which is the 'Divinity' within, invisible to ones physical perception.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
[Dr. Raghunathan's valuable contributions in editing the text is acknowledged]
[Dhanurmasa references by courtesy Sri Lakshmi Temple Boston, Ma. Feb-2001]
Considerable assistance has been taken from the publications of the Divine Life Society in preparing this article. 

THE ORIGIN OF LOHRI FESTIVAL
(By courtesy  Bala from Atlanta)

There is a large tract of semi-arid terrain lying between the rivers Chenab and Ravi called the Saandal Bar. (It now falls in the districts of Sheikhupura and Faislabad.)
The people of this area were known to provide the stiffest opposition to the Muslim marauders.
They never paid any taxes; rather, they openly defied the authorities and indulged in looting the royal caravans and treasures.
'Saandal', a warlord of Bhatti Rajput clan led these tribals.
Prince Jahangir, the heir apparent, fired with zeal to prove his prowess carried out campaigns to consolidate the Mughal authority in the region. He captured and executed Saandal and his son,Farid. Their skins were peeled off and hung at the Delhi gate of the Fort of Lahore to instill a sense of fear amongst the rebels.
However, the son of Farid, Abdullah or Dullah as he is fondly called, remained unfazed and continued his defiant activities. Dullah earned notoriety in the eyes of authorities. Like Robin Hood, he looted wealthy landlords and Imperial officers and distributed the booty amongst the poor. He came to be regarded as a father figure for the distressed and oppressed. and became a living embodiment of the chivalrous and secular, socio-cultural character of the region.
Dullah was the contemporary Sri Guru Arjan Dev, the Fifth Sikh Guru, who too sacrificed his life at the altar of humanity at Lahore.
It is believed that Dullah had restored the prestige of an innocent girl whose modesty was outraged by a Mughal general. Dullah had adopted this girl as his daughter and arranged her marriage in the Jungles of 'Saandal Bar'.
As there was no priest nearby to chant the Vedic Hymns and solemnise the marriage Dullah had lit a bonfire and composed an impromtu song: Sundari Mundariye…… The bride and the groom were asked to take pheras of the bonfire as Dullah sang this hilarious song.
The 'ho's are in chorus…..
Sunder mundriye ho!
(Oh, you pretty lass)
Tera kaun vicaharaa ho! (Who is your protector, you pitiable one? )
Dullah Bhatti walla ho! (There's this man called Dullah, from Village Bhatti)
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho! (Dullah's getting her married as his own daughter)
Ser shakkar payee ho! (He gave 1 kg sugar)
Kudi da laal pathaka ho! (The girls is wearing a red suit!)
Kudi da saalu paatta ho! (But her shawl is torn!)
Saalu kaun samete ho ! (Who will stitch her shawl?)
Chacha gaali dese ho! (Her Uncle will scold her)
Chacha choori kutti ho! (The uncle made choori{a Punjabi dish}!)
zamidara lutti ho!lThe landlords ate it!)
Zamindaar sudhaye ho! (Dullah gave the landlords lots more to eat!)
Ginn-ginn bhole aaye ho! (Lots of innocent guys came)
Ek bhola reh gaya! (One innocent boy got left behind)
Sipahee pakad ke lai gaya! (The police arrested him!)
Sipahee ne mari itt! (The policeman hit him with a brick!)
Phannve ro te phannve pit! (Now, you may cry or howl!)
Sanoo de de lohri te teri jeeve jodi! (Give us our Lohri & may you live long as a couple!)

Til (Sesame seeds) and Rorhi (a form of sweet jaggery in Punjabi) are meant to keep the body warm.
These two terms Til+ Rorhi combined to form Tilrorhi, which was eventually corrupted to ----- Lohri.



What is Makara Sankranti?

Posted by World Hindu News | Jan 14, 2916|IndiaDivine.Org
Almost all Hindu festivals are dependent on the position of the moon; however, Makara Sankranti is based on the position of the sun. The sun enters the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) on the day of Makara Sankranti.
All the tithis (dates) of Hindu Dharma’s festivals vary every year; however, Makara Sankranti falls mostly on 14 January (occasionally on 13th or 15th January). Every eighty years, the difference created due to the revolution of the earth around the sun is made up by pushing ahead.
Since time immemorial, demons have been troubling humans as well as Deities. When such situations arise, God incarnates and slays the demons. It is said that Sankranti, a Deity, slayed a demon, Sankrasur, on this day.
Makara Sankranti is celebrated to let go of our differences with each other and increase love (prema bhava) in us. Spiritually, this day is very conducive for sadhana and to imbibe the Chaitanya in the environment.
Sankranti is considered a Deity. According to a legend Sankranti killed a demon named Sankarasur. The day followed by Makara Sankrant is called Kinkrant or Karidin. On this day, the female deity (devi) slayed the demon Kinkarasur.
Importance of Makara Sankranti
1. Worldly Importance
In Bharat, Makara Sankranti is celebrated to let go of our differences with each other and increase love (prembhav) in us. One way people come close together on this day, is by distributing sweets to each other. These sweets are typically made of sesame seeds.
2. Spiritual Importance
a. On Makara Sankranti from sunrise to sunset, the environment is full of Chaitanya. Thus, a seeker doing sadhana (spiritual practice) can derive the maximum benefit of the increased Chaitanya. Due to the Chaitanya, tejtattva (Absolute Fire Principle) also increases in seekers.
b. The day of Makara Sankranti is very conducive for sadhana.
Spiritual Significance of Sweets Made Out of Sesame Seeds
a. Before distributing sweets made out of sesame seeds, they should be kept in front of an idol or a picture of a Deity on one’s altar. This helps retain the Shakti (Divine Energy) and Chaitanya (Divine Consciousness) in the sweets.
b. When distributing sweets made of sesame seeds, bhav (spiritual emotion) and Chaitanya is awakened in us.
c. All the members of the house derive the benefit of the increased Chaitanya in the environment.
d. The prembhav (love) in people increases and they are able to overcome negative thinking and replace it with positive thinking.
e. According to Ayurveda, eating sesame seeds in winter is beneficial for our health. Spiritually, sesame seeds and sesame oil have the ability to absorb and emit Sattva frequencies more than any other oil. Hence, during Makara Sankranti, sesame seeds are favorable for good sadhana (spiritual practice) to happen.
f. Importance of sesame seed sweets: Sesame seeds have the ability to absorb and emit high amounts of Sattva frequencies. By consuming sesame seed sweets, inner purification happens which helps improve one’s sadhana. By distributing these sweets to each other, there is an exchange of sattvikta, which helps increase everyone’s sattvikata.
Hindu festivals are great opportunities to imbibe the increased amount of positive energy and Deities’ principle in the environment. However this is possible only if one celebrates the festivals as per the guidance of Hindu Dharma. By adhering to Dharma we can derive the maximum benefit of each festival thereby purifying ourselves as well as the environment.
How is Makara Sankranti Celebrated?
Different regions in Bharat (India) celebrate Makara Sankranti in different ways. The following are some examples of the various rituals that are performed on this day.
The period from sunrise to sunset is meritorious. A Holy bath at any Holy place on the banks of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Krishna, Godavari, etc., on this day, yields great merits.
The period from Makara Sankranti (14 January in 2014) to Rathsaptami (6 February in 2014) is called a Transition period (Parvakal or Sandhikal). Any offerings / donations (daan) and meritorious acts done during this period definitely yield fruit.
White sesame seeds (til) are used extensively while celebrating Makara Sankranti. People prepare sweets made of sesame seeds and distribute them to others. Sesame seeds have the ability to absorb and emit high amounts of Sattva frequencies which in turn facilitate spiritual practice.
Women celebrate this day with an event known as ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ or ‘Haldi-Kunku’. They apply turmeric and kumkum (vermilion) on the forehead of other women at the site of the ajnya-chakra, apply perfume (attar) to hands-forearms-feet, offer 13 types of sattvik gifts (vaan), sprinkle rose water on them, offer sweets made of sesame seeds and do the ritual of offering a sāṛī and/or a piece of cloth to a female Deity or to a married woman (Oti).
Methods of Celebration of Makara Sankranti
1. Benefit of highest merit acquired by a Holy dip on the day of Makara Sankranti: The time from sunrise to sunset on Makara Sankranti is auspicious. A Holy dip during this period carries special significance. Those who take a Holy dip in the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri at the Holy places situated on the banks of these rivers acquire the highest merit.
2. Makara Sankranti Offering: Importance of making an offering during an auspicious period: The period from Makara Sankranti to Rathsaptami is an auspicious period. Any donation and meritorious deeds in this period prove more fruitful.
Substances offered on Makara Sankranti: An offering of new vessels, clothing, food, sesame seeds, pot of sesame seeds, jaggery, a cow, a horse, gold or land should be made depending on the capability. On this day, married women also make some offering. They take things from unmarried girls and give them sesame seeds and jaggery in return. Married women organise a ceremony of haldi-kumkum (applying vermilion and turmeric to the forehead) and gift articles to other married women.
3. Importance of haldi-kumkum ceremony performed by married women on Makara Sankranti : Performing haldi-kumkum(Turmeric powder and vermilion) ceremony is in a way invoking the waves of dormant Adi-shakti in the Universe to get activated. This helps in creating impression of Sagun (Materialized) devotion on the mind of an individual and enhances his bhav (Spiritual emotion) unto God.
A. Steps in haldi-kumkum ceremony
A 1. Applying Haldi-kumkum :
Applying haldi-kumkum to a suvasini (A married woman whose husband is alive) activates the dormant Principle of Sri Durgadevi in her and bestows well-being to the applier suvasini.
A 2. Applying Perfume :
Fragrant particles emitting from the perfume please the Principle of the Deity and bestow well-being to the applier suvasini within a shorter period.
A 3. Sprinkling Rose-Water :
The fragrant waves emitted by the rose-water activate the waves of the Deity and purifies the environment, and the suvasini who sprinkles it gets greater benefit of the activated Sagun Principle of the Deity.

Magh Mahina 2017 – Magha Month 2017 in North Indian Hindu Calendar

Magh Mahina is the eleventh month in a traditional Hindi calendar followed in North India. Magh Month 2017 begins on January 13, 2017 and ends on February 10, 2017. This calendar is followed mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Chhattisgarh and other North Indian states. A month in these regions is calculated from the day after Purnima or full moon to the next Purnima. The current year in the Hindi Calendar is Saka 2073.
Mauni Amavasya, Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja and Ratha Saptami are observed in this month.
Note - It must be noted that Magh month in calendars followed in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka begins on January 28, 2017 and ends on February 26, 2017.
Chaturthi Vrat or Sankashti Ganesh Chaturti in Magh Month 2017 is on February 14. The Chandrodaya or Moonrise time as per North Indian calendars is  8:27 PM.
Magh Mahina 2017 Krishna and Shukla Paksha
Magh Month Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) is from January 13, 2017 to January 27, 2017.
Magh Month Shukla Paksha (waning phase of moon) is from January 28, 2017 to February 10, 2017.
Magh Month Ekadasi Vrat in North India
Shattila Ekadasi – January 23
Jaya Ekadasi – February 7
Magha Month Pradosh Vrat in North India
Pradosh – January 25
Pradosh – February 8
Magh Amavasi in Hindi Panchang in North India
Magha Amavasya is on January 27, 2017
The Amavasi begins on at 4:55 AM on  January 27, 2017 and ends at 5:41 AM on January 28, 2017. Mauni Amavas is on January 27
Magh Purnima in Hindi Calendar
Purnima is on February 10, 2017. The Purnima begins at 7:08 AM on February 10 to 6:00 AM on Feb 11. Purnima Vrat is on February 10.
Festivals and auspicious days in Magh Month 2017 in North India
Makar Sankranti - January 14
Gupt Navratri - January 28 to February 5
Basant Panchami – February 1
Ratha Saptami – February 3
Bhishma Ashtami - February 4