By P Charitha
Makara Sankranti is considered to be a sacred day for Indians as it marks the day when the rays of the rising Sun bring light and enlightenment for the people and the planet.
Now what is specific to Makara Sankranti you may ask? As per Indian astrology, Makara Sankranti is given great significance because this particular Sankranti marks the beginning of the Sun’s movement to the north. From this Sankranti onwards, the Sun enters the constellation of Capricorn (known as Makara in Sanksrit) and moves into the northern hemisphere.This northern transition of the Sun is called Uttarayana. From January 15th, for the next six months, the Sun will continue its northerly movement. After six months, the Sun will begin its movement to the south, called Dakshinayana. This Sankranti is known as Karka Sankranti, and falls between July 14 and July 18.
Another significant aspect of Makara Sankranti is that it also marks the end of winter and the end of an inauspicious period. This is festival is extremely important for farmers as it also marks the advent of the harvest season.
On this day, the Sun is worshipped throughout India. Til, or sesame seed and the oil is used across India as part of the rituals. In Andhra Pradesh, Telangana,Maharashtra and Karnataka, people distribute laddoos made of til or sesame seeds and jaggery. In many parts of India, people mark the festival by flying kites of all shapes and sizes.
So these are facts, which we all know. But have you ever wondered as to what the connection between sun, sesame seeds and kite flying is?
The main source of Vitamin D is made by the body with the help of sun light. The sun rays and light are rather the main source for us get the essential Vitamin D which is an essential nutrient that your body needs for many vital processes, including building and maintaining strong bones. vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” because the sun is one of the best sources of this nutrient. So that answers the first fact. Moreover, what better way can you get loads of this Vit D than by spending ample time in the Sun.
Another important scientific fact is that the body is capable of storing vitamin D up to a year, and can use the reserves for quite some time.
-The body is capable of getting its vitamin D reserves with 3 full days of sunlight.
-the best quality of sunlight is during end of winter & beginning of January, which coincides with Sankranti.
Kite-flying in olden days was generally done in the early hours of the morning, when the sun's rays were bright and just right. And during this time the weather is very windy making it the right time to fly kites. Also, during kite-flying, the human body is exposed to the sun for long hours and when the body is exposed to the sun the body processes the 'sunshine vitamin'- D . The early morning sun is considered advantageous for the skin and body. Since winter is also the time where you are prone to infections and sickness, the advent of Sankranti ends the winter season. By basking in the warm sun, the bacteria in the air and in our bodies would be cleared to a certain extent.
Moreover, what could be a more creative and fun way of enjoying and processing sunshine? Kite Flying!
Who would have ever thought that kite flying was beneficial for health? But that was the wisdom of our sages in ancient India where the festival of flying kites was conceptualised, whereby our kids get excited to go in the open, under direct sunlight, fly kites throughout the day starting from early morning, especially during Sankranti time.
Makar Sankranti is a festival where laddoos or sweets made with sesame and jaggery or chikkis as they are popularly known are distributed and eaten. To eat sweets and speak sweet words is one the main aspects. It also signifies bonding, where people are asked to bury old enmities and live in peace and harmony.
Now what is the scientific aspect of eating sesame and jaggery? Since the festival falls in winter, eating of sesame and jaggery is considered beneficial to health as it produces heat. These warm foods are good for the body in this season, thus, signifying health.
-Sesame seeds( til) have the highest amount of calcium (975mg per 100g).And calcium is needed for healthy bones.
Now connect the dots between Sunshine, Sesame Sweets and Kite flying, to understand the science behind these rituals ...