HERD Foundation Celebrates Kite Flying Festivities For Makar Sankranti

January 14 is celebrated as Makar Sankranti Festival each year all over India. It is said to be one of the most ancient of Hindu festivals. Devoted to the Sun God the day heralds the change of seasons and welcomes the soon-to-come spring time. The festival is associated with communities cutting across the country who all follow diverse traditions with great enthusiasm. The one tradition in common above all, all over, is that of flying kites!!

HERD Foundation HR unit had the staff celebrating the kite flying festivities with great fanfare. Members were invited to go up on the office terrace to enjoy flying of colourful kites.  Soon everyone was busy drawing strings on the paper kites and attempting to get them up in the air to adorn the sky. Colourful kites were to waft amid music and cheers from the staff members.

Wondering why the tradition of flying kites is associated with Sankranti, soon many thoughts began floating around. Some had been taught traditionally that since winters brought in the cold along with illness, the sun offered relief. While it is common to lounge in the warmth of the winter sun to be rid of the chill and disease causing germs, kite flying added a new dimension to enjoying the sun. In fact the act of flying kites is said to be a more proactive way of enjoying the sun.

A yet more symbolic reason on offer is that flying kites up in the high skies is to reach up to the heavens on Makar Sankranti day to offer obeisance and thankfulness to the gods. It is also seen to be a signal to help awaken the Gods who as per mythology go to sleep for six months. Makar Sankranti is the day they wake up and the blue skies are dotted with colourful kites to welcome them.

Taking these reasons with a pinch of salt, the fact remains that all across the country kites fly high on this day. Regarded as the first big festival of the calendar year, (the Hindu New Year is in March on Gudi Padwa day), young and old people participate with great fervor for this annual ritual. Preparations for the celebrations begin days in advance to stock up kites, strings and all other needed paraphernalia.

Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated with great joy by rich and poor alike. The festival marks the onset of spring and thereafter summer after the cold winter which makes it’s a harbinger of good times ahead. The festival in particular gets everyone out in the sun offering health benefits and enjoying special treats prepares especially for the day. The sun offers medicinal support, exposing people with good doses of Vitamin D.

HERD Foundation staff enjoyed the day amid gaiety, laughter and music in the sun, enjoying fun, special fare and togetherness in a spirit of bonhomie offered by the Human Resources unit. Special thanks are due to Nisha Mishra, HR Manager and Latika Vadher, HR Executive for contributing to the success of the event.

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The Significance of Uttarayana

Uttarayana

Uttarayana – Tilting of Earth vis-a-vis Sun’s Reach    

One of the oldest expositions in astronomy is our very own Surya Siddhanta that lays down rules with regard to the motions of celestial bodies. The treatise informs about actual positions of luminaries in the sky, giving their locations along with calculations of solar eclipses and solstices. One may be surprised to learn that it also gives information on the lengths of the Earth’s diameter and circumference!

Surya Siddhanta or the Sun Treatise defines Uttarayana as the period between the Makara Sankranti occurring around January 14 and Karka Sankranti that falls around July 16. Uttara meaning North and Ayana meaning movement indicates the northward movement of the Sun on its celestial course. This is then the period that is celebrated all across our country as an auspicious time.

Today, we are at the threshold of Uttarayana when the Sun’s movement in relation to Earth shifts from its southern run to its northward progression. Spiritually inclined people readily identify this transition as a phase positively affecting their consciousness levels, facilitating them to thrive inwardly. The first half of Uttarayana until the equinox in March is a period that is more amenable to such awakening.

The human body is of course a cosmos in itself. All that occurs in the external realm manifests in subtle ways in the human body too. For many of us such transitions go unnoticed. But conscientious human beings can sense alignment to such movements that positively affect their bodies and bodily functions. Especially yogis and sensitized beings keep themselves attuned to such cosmic movements.

Makara Sankranti then is a festival that celebrates our oneness with the universe. It reminds us that we are part and parcel of the cosmos and that our human life is in conjunction with celestial movements of time and space. It may be likened to an enlightening phase bringing on universal fulfillment creating significant impacts on human system functioning. Yogic practices continue to teach people the significant relevance on human bodies as also attainment of spiritual processes.

Even as we might begin to fathom at celestial and spiritual connotations of this day, it is remarkable that it is celebrated with such gusto throughout the length and breadth of our country. Literally the first festival of the New Year, it pre-empts harsh winters coming to an end, is the harbinger of harvest and symbolizes joyous rites and rituals. It is a day best lived by children spending time flying kites – a tradition of our times.

Oneness with Nature

Oneness with Nature