Monday, 10 June 2013

Sankramana - the festival of Harvest

Sankramana, the festival of harvest is here. I can't help getting nostalgic about the 
festivities we enjoyed back then in North Karnataka where the celebrations meant 
devouring in the  rustic and ethnic flavors, eating loads of sweets, Sajje (bajra) rotti, 
butter, ennegai palya and ellu holige and wearing new clothes. This is the festival of 
harvest, the til or sesame seed crops are brought home and it was a way of 
expressing gratitude to the elements of nature and mother earth.
Every Festival in India has a great significance, worshiping different Gods, savoring a 
particular dish during that festival. This cannot be termed as a mere custom or
 meaningless  ritual. The great Indian sages had a specific purpose behind every ritual.
 A prayer is not  to ask God to give us what we want but  to make us strong to learn
 to accept what we get. Sankramana, the festival of India, also popularly known as 
Pongal in south  India signifies the transmigration of Sun from one rashi to another.
 Makara Sankranthi  refers to transition of Sun from Dhanu rashi to Makara rashi.

Zodiac signs are calculated using sidereal times. The Sankranthi festival comes around
 21 days after winter solstice making the phenomenon of Sun's migration, i.e. Uttarayana,
 meaning northward journey of Sun. In Puranas it is stated that Dakshinayana signifies
 night  of Devathas while the uttarayana brings in the day, the auspicious period. It is also 
stated that Sun visits the house of his son Shani, who is the swami of Makara rashi.
 If you like to make the story more humane, it is stated that the son and the father
 duo don't get along very well but still make it a point  to meet each other on this day.
 How can there be story or a ritual without the Navarasa elements being thrown in!
Scientifically, the shortest day of the year is December 21-22 after which the period of
 lengthy days start.This was the original day of Sankranthi in ancient times. But because 
of the Earth's tilt of 23.45 degrees, the day of the festival has to slide over the ages.
 The Sankranthi festival originally from December 31st has slid to January 14 and 5000 
years from now it will be February end and after 9000 years it is going to shift to June!                      

This is the period of mid winter and to keep the body warm, the sesame and jaggery are 
to be consumed to keep the body warm and energetic.