Updated on: Saturday, January 15, 2022, 09:06 AM IST

Guiding Light: Makara Sankranti and it's spiritual significance

Representative Image
 | PTI

Representative Image | PTI


It is a day that is celebrated all over India. The day when the Sun enters the constellation of Makara, Capricorn. It is called by different names: Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam, Maghi (preceded by Lohri) in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and so on.

This is an expression of gratitude to Mother Earth for providing us grains and sustenance in the form of food, gratitude to the farm animals, especially the cow, which is worshipped on that day. Many in India drink milk, unless the person is a vegan. Children have been nourished on the milk of a cow. We are the only mammals that drink the milk of another species. Therefore, it is not surprising that we treat the cow with respect and love like how we would treat our mothers.

Our Upanishads declare — matr devo bhava, look upon your mother as a devata on Earth. The same reverential attitude would apply to the cow. One may ask, why is an agrarian festival so important in today’s world? It is worth reminding ourselves that a society can survive without space technology, but no society can survive without agriculture. Yes, more and more Indians are leaving agriculture and becoming urbanised. That will naturally happen but agriculture will always be there as people have to eat food. Therefore, the production of food is important for the survival and thriving of our species, especially as humans we don’t eat wild plants and shrubs.

The day of gratitude and celebration of the bountifulness of the earth and others involved is a beautiful Indian festival that everyone can participate in, irrespective of the religion they belong to. We celebrate it by flying kites, lighting bonfires, bathing in holy rivers, worshipping Lord Shiva and Surya, worshipping cattle, making and distributing sweets made from sesame and jaggery and so on. If people are environmentalists, then Makara Sankranti is their festival too.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at


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Published on: Friday, January 14, 2022, 07:00 AM IST