Uttarayan is the northern transit of Sun or Lord Surya and sun enters the Makar Rashi or Capricorn. Uttarayan 2022 date is on January 14 in Gujarati calendars.
The day is popularly known as Makar Sankranti or Sankranti. In South India, the northern transit of the Sun is known as Uttarayana Punyakalam for a period of six months and is believed to be the daytime of the Devas.
The term Uttarayan is popularly used in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The transition of the sun, or Surya Sankranti, into Makar or Capricorn, is considered highly auspicious and meritorious. According to Saint Jaimini, 12 hours and 46 minutes pre-and-post Sankranti are considered sacred.
During this period making donations and helping the poor is believed to bring merit to the donor.
Symbolically, the northern path is considered to be the path of Moksha.
In Uttarayan, millions of people take a holy dip at the sacred rivers especially in Ganga and Yamuna especially at Prayag or Sangam of Allahabad. Thousands of people also take a holy dip at Gangasagar in Bengal.
Grains from the new harvest are used to cook a dish known as ‘khichdo.’ Another important ritual is the exchanging of a mixture of sesame seed and jaggery by friends, relatives, and neighbors.
The exchange of sesame and jaggery symbolically suggests people forget and forgive all past ill will and fights and to start afresh on Uttarayan.
Special sweets and delicacies like laddoos, undhiyu, Tal-sankadi, chiki, surati jamun are prepared during the festival.
Uttarayan is essentially nature worship and Surya or Sun God is worshiped on the day. Cows, ox and other domesticated animals are also given a bath and fed sweets and fresh grass.
Special pujas are done for the well being of domesticated animals and plants as man’s existence depends on them.
Thousands of kites take to the sky during the period and kite flying competitions are also held in many regions.
People gather on rooftops and terraces to fly kites on this day.
Kite flying enthusiasts from different parts of the world arrive at Ahmedabad to take part in the international competition.
The festival has become so popular that there is an entire market named after kites Patang Bazaar in Ahmedabad.
But how kite flying got attached to the Uttarayan festival is a mystery. Kite flying has been part of the Uttarayan festival for more than 1000 years.
The kites are believed to have arrived in Gujarat through Muslim traders.