Dr K K Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
The word Sankranti means “change of direction” and the sun change its direction north wards on the day of Makar Sankranti.
The period, beginning from 14 January (Makar Sankranti) lasting till 14 July, is known as Uttarayana (“Uttar” North and “ayan” movement towards). It is also the last day of the month of Maargazhi, which is the ninth month of the lunar calendar. The Bhagawad Gita deems it as an extremely sacred and auspicious time when Lord Krishna manifests himself most tangibly. Bhisham Pitamah in Mahbharata also waited for this period (not day) to relieve his body. Uttarayana is considered to be the holiest half of the year. In Bhagavad Gita, the Lord says, “I am Uttarayana among the Ayanas.”
In chapter 8 shloka 24 Lord Krishna has said “Those who know the Supreme Brahman attain that Supreme by passing away from the world during the influence of the fiery god, in the light, at an auspicious moment of the day, during the fortnight of the waxing moon, or during the six months when the sun travels in the north.”
The earth, farthest from the sun at this point of time, starts its journey towards the sun, thus ending the coldest month of the year (peak winter), Paush, and announcing the start of the month of Magh.
As per the “Puranas” Dakshinayana (The other six month period) is the night of the deities whereas Uttarayana is their day. It’s the time to take a dip in the Ganges at sun rise and at sunset and say good bye to winter foods.