MAKARA SANKARANTHI - IMPORTANCE
Sankranti or Sankranthi marks the transition of the Sun into Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. Traditionally, this has been one of many harvest days in
India. This refers to the transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi (sign of the zodiac) to another. Hence there are 12 such sankrantis in all. However, the Sankranti festivalusually refers to Makara Sankaranti, or the transition of the Sun from Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to Makara rashi (Capricorn).
It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year (or may be sometimes on 15 January (leap year).
According to the Puranas, on this day Surya (Sun) visits the house of his son Shani (Saturn), who is the lord of the Makar rashi (Zodiac Capricorn). Though the father and son duo did not get along well, the Surya made it a point to meet his son on this day. He, in fact, comes to his son’s house, for a month. This day thus symbolizes the importance of the special relationship between father and son.
It is believed that the person, who dies during the period of Uttarayana, becomes free from transmigration (rebirth). So this day was seen as a definite auspicious day to start a journey or endeavours to the higher realms beyond.
It was on this day when Lord Vishnu ended the ever increasing terror of the Asuras(Demons) by finishing them off and burying their heads under the Mandara Parvata. So this occasion also represents the end of 'negativities' and beginning of an era of righteous living.
From Makar Sankranti starts the ‘day’ of devatas (Gods), while dakshinayana (southward movement of the sun) is said to be the ‘night’ of devatas, so most of the auspicious things are done during this time. Uttarayana is also called as Devayana, and the dakshinayana' is called Pitrayana.