Uttarayan – Uttarayana Punyakalam

Uttarayana, or Uttarayan, marks the beginning of Sun’s northern transit. In 2013, Uttarayan begins on January 14 as per traditional calendars followed in South India. A year in traditional Hindu Solar Calendar is divided into two parts – Uttarayana and Dakshinayana. Uttarayan Punyakalam, a period of six months, begins on Makar Sankranti (January) and is considered highly auspicious. It is believed to be the day time of the Devas and is known as Devayana. Uttarayan also signals the onset of spring throughout the northern hemisphere.

Please not that sun's northern transit or Uttarayana in North Indian calendars begins on December 21, 2012. But Uttarayan festival is observed on January 14.

A human year is believed to be equal to one day of Gods. The six months of Uttarayan is the day time of Gods (Devas). In Uttarayana period the days are longer and the six months is considered highly auspicious part of a year. Marriages, Grihapravesha, Upanayanam, and such other auspicious event are held only during this period in some communities.

The day which marks the beginning of Uttarayan is observed as a major Hindu festival in Gujarat and Maharashtra – these two regions follow the solar calendar. People in Maharashtra and Gujarat make sesame balls and ‘gur’ and distribute it among neighbors, relatives and friends. In Gujarat, grain from the recent harvest is used to cook ‘khichdo’ – a special Uttarayan dish.

A major activity during the period in Gujarat is the Kite flying. An International Kite Festival is organized in Gujarat on Uttarayan.

The day that marks the beginning of Uttarayan is popularly known as Makar Sankranti or Sankrant in many parts of India.