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.