In a release in Nevada (USA) today, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, expressed warmest wishes to Hindus on this auspicious ancient widely observed festival, which finds mention in Mahabharata.
Rajan Zed urged them that in addition to celebrations and rejoicing on Makar Sankranti, they should each take a vow of undertaking at least one charitable project during the coming year for less fortunate members of the community. Charity was duty of all of us and it should be undertaken with modesty and sympathy, Zed added.
On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Sun enters into Capricorn (winter solstice) and is believed that on this day Surya visited Shani, Lord Vishnu destroyed Asuras, Ganga was brought down to earth, Bhisma decided to die, etc. It is also considered as the start of the auspicious/holy phase and represents purification of soul.
This major harvest festival includes ceremonial dips in Ganges, Ganga Sagar, and other holy streams; visiting temples; helping the poor; praying to Surya and other deities; kite flying; decorating the cattle; congregation of families; lighting of bonfire; rangoli drawing; participating in melas-dances-singing; etc. This is considered first of the big bathing days.
Makar Sankranti is known by many names in various parts of India and adjoining countries like Bhogali/Magha Bihu, Magey/Magh/Maghe Sakrati/Sankranti/Skranti, Maghi, Makar Sakrat, Makara Samkranti/Vilakku, Moha, Pi Ma Lao, Pongal, Parbon/Poush Sankranti, Sakraat/Sangkran/Sankranthi/Sankranti/Songkran, Shishur Saenkraat, Suggi, Thingyan, Uttarayan/Utran, Uttarayana Sankranti, etc.
Traditional savories served on the occasion include boondi-mithai, chhena pudding, chikkis, dahi-chuda, gul-polis, halwa, kheer, khichri, murukku, payasam, til-gul laddu, til-paati, vadai, yellu-bella, etc.
Makar Sankranti falls on January 14.