Makar Sankranti (also known as Makara Sankranthi or Sakraat) is a harvest festival celebrated throughout India. On this day, the Sun begins to move from the southern to the northern hemisphere. According to the Hindu calendar, the transition of the Sun from the constellation Sagittarius to Capricorn signifies Sankranti. Another significance of this festival lies in the Hindu belief of ‘tamaso ma jyothirgamaya’; it means that ‘you go from darkness, which personifies ignorance, to light, which personifies wisdom’.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated on January 14 every year. It falls in Magh month, as per the Hindu calendar. The traditional calendar is based on lunar positions, but Sankranti follows the solar calendar. So while most Hindu festival dates vary from year to year, Sankranti is celebrated on the same calendar day. After this festival, the days start becoming longer and nights shorter, for six months. This period is called uttarayan. Nationwide Celebrations The festival acquires a local flavour in different parts of India. In Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, it is referred to as Makara Sankranthi.
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana celebrate the festival as Pongal. In Gujarat, it is known as Uttarayan.In Assam, the harvest festival is observed as Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu. In Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar, it is called Khichdi. The people of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab observe the first day of Magh as Maghi, and celebrate Lohri on the previous day. Kashmiris call the festival Shishur Saenkraat. In Nepal, it is known as Maghe Sankranti.