EYE ON VEDIC FESTIVALS: SUN IN CAPRICORN: MAKAR SANKRANTI JAN. 14
Sun moves into Capricorn on Saturday, Jan. 14th and it is a larger event that than you might imagine and we will have a few articles this week about it. In the Vedic calendar it is the real beginning of the New Year where the days start lengthening and more light descends on the planet. Surya, the Sun God, is regarded as the symbol of divinity and wisdom, and is one of the most important planets (heavenly bodies) of the zodiac and our daily lives. It represent a kind of new year and “new beginning” for which we want to strengthen the Sun within in our lives.
Surya actually means self, representing in our Jyotish (Vedic Astrology) charts both the big Self, and our little individual egos. As The Self, or Atman, Surya stands for and represents that divine quality that all of us have within us. Thus, it is good to give some attention to this element within ourselves So it represents a day to celebrate our individuality and the Divinity within. The equivalent for Westerners would be for us to clean a closet out on Friday, Jan. 13th and take stuff to the dump or give stuff to the 2nd hand store which becomes symbolic of discarding the old and then on Jan. 14th to celebrate our own individuality as well as the Divine within and revisiting our New Year’s resolutions or making a list of intentions if we did not get to it on Jan. 1st when the Western culture tends to do so.
Apart from a harvest festival Makar Sankranti is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the ‘holy phase of transition’. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified this day onwards.
In India, 4 days are often celebrated in some parts of the country with different rituals. The symbolism in Maharashtra is very significant. Millions of people take a dip in places like the Ganga and worship and pay respect to Saraswati. It is a time of peace, prosperity and happiness following 6 months of darkness as the sun and light increases in our lives. In some parts of India, Jan. 13th, know as Bhogi is a day when people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn, people light a bonfire with logs of wood, other solid fuels and wooden furniture that are no longer useful. The disposal of derelict things is where all old habits, vices, attachment to relations and material things are sacrificed in the fire of the knowledge of Rudra. It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating divine virtues.
So think of Friday and Saturday as a time to release the old, to release the past and move forward. As my friend Daniele Lepke noted:
As we flip the calendar, we need to keep flipping our mind as well.
Often, our diaries are full with memories.
See that you don’t fill your future dates with past events.
Learn and unlearn from the past, and move on.
Enjoy the rich symbolism and ritual of the Makara Sankrati, the Sun moving into Capricorn. Again a very Happy and Blessed New Year to You.
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