Makara Sankranti, also known as Makaraa Sankrānti (Sanskrit: मकर सङ्क्रान्ति) or Maghi, is a festival day
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Makara Sankranti, also known as Makaraa Sankrānti (Sanskrit: मकर सङ्क्रान्ति) or Maghi, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, in reference to deity Surya (sun). It is observed each year in January. It marks the first day of sun's transit into the Makara (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.
Makara Sankranti is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that has been observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. Being a festival that celebrates the solar cycle, it almost always falls on the same Gregorian date every year (January 14), except in some years when the date shifts by a day for that year. The festivities associated with Makar Sankranti are known by various names such as Maghi(preceded by Lohri) by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs, Makara Sankranti (Pedda Pandaga) in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu by Assamese, and Pongal by Tamils.
Makara Sankranti is observed with social festivities such as colorful decorations, rural children going house to house, singing and asking for treats in some areas (or pocket money), melas (fairs), dances, kite flying, bonfires and feasts. The Magha Mela, according to Diana L. Eck (professor at Harvard University specializing in Indology), is mentioned in the Hindu epic (the Mahabharata), thus placing this festival to be around 5,000 years old. Many go to sacred rivers or lakes and bathe with thanksgiving to the sun. Every twelve years, the Hindus observe Makar Sankranti with one of the world's largest mass pilgrimages, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event. At this event, they say a prayer to the sun and bathe at the Prayaga confluence of the River Ganga and River Yamuna at the Kumbha Mela, a tradition attributed to Adi Shankaracharya.