Astro StoriesTransitsMakar Sankranti: Sun’s Ingress in Capricorn

January 14, 2021by Malini Iyer0

Happy Makar Sankranti

Happy Pongal

Happy Lodi


Makar (Capricorn) Sankranti (ingress of Sun) is one of the popular Indian festivals, celebrated in different parts of India under different names. Festivals are times when I miss India a lot & become homesick


Makar Sankranti or transit of Sun into Capricorn (Cap) originally coincided with winter solstice or northward course of the #Sun, also called as #Uttarayana. Hence, the celebration. Now, winter solstice happens around 21st of December. If we followed the originally intent of the celebration, we should be celebrating on Dec 21st. Coincidentally, right now, Dec 21st is the time when Sun ingress Cap in the tropical zodiac, which is off by ~24 degrees from the actual sidereal Cap, like I have explained in other posts – so don’t get confused


From my own experience growing up in India I understand that contemporary India divorced the cosmology & astronomy from  these festivals because it didn’t fit the narrative of western sciences that was indoctrinated. Nevertheless, these festivals are important events for the community to come together. The camaraderie, laughter, joy, sharing, being silly, & genuinely connecting – regardless of your opinions, political views, class, caste, religion or color. Makar Sankranti is now celebrated more as a harvest festival – Lodi in the North & Pongal in the South where people prepare recipes from their recent harvest.


I would wait for my parents to make Pongal. Being sweet-toothed myself, I would wake up early just to have a bite of sakkarai or sweet Pongal.  This day is also celebrated as the #kitefestival. We used to fly kites on the terrace of our high rises in Mumbai – just like the picture. We were 3 little girls – Priyadarshini, Charmi & me who would ride on our brothers & fathers skills to fly the kite & then pretend-play like we were pros. All of us came from different backgrounds, spoke different languages, are different staple foods, had different belief systems, voted for different people in elections – yet we united on festivals & celebrated our uniqueness together. There were no agendas, no competition, no one trying to impose their beliefs on the other, no one trying to outsmart the other in debate about politics, no hierarchical structure, no one was the leader & no one was the follower or the underdog. We came together in a circle with no one higher or lower / better or worse (something American Indians struggle with these days). I think that’s why it is called ‘a circle’ of friends. We just were us – laughing, sharing joys & sorrows, being silly, & being in love with life & one another. Isn’t that a better world to live in?


It’s time we come together to celebrate the richness of life. It feels almost criminal to let our differences divide us. It is possible to come together as a community to celebrate our differences. Eastern cultures have done it. The West too can do it. Celebrating festivals, especially Pongal, is one way of doing it


Dheel de dheel de de re bhaiya… (literally)


P.S. the bottom picture is Mom-made Ven Pongal (left) & Sakkarai Pongal (right).. Yumm


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