The popular festival of Makar Sankranti is also known Uttarayan in
Gujarat. The sun travels from Sagittarius to Capricon (Makara Rasi) and this transition is known as Makar Sankranti. In 2016, the date of Uttarayan in Gujarat is January 14. Uttarayan is the movement of the sun northwards (uttara) from the Tropic of Capricon to Tropic of Cancer. The northwards travel takes about six months and is the daytime of Devas.
The Uttar path of Surya or movement of sun towards north is considered highly auspicious and it is also the path of path to mukti.
Gujarat, Uttarayan is famous for the kite festival. Kites of different colors and shape the skies during this period. Numerous kite flying competitions are also held during this period.
Grains from the new harvest are used to cook a dish known as ‘khichdo.’ Another important ritual is the exchanging of mixture of sesame seed and jaggery by friends, relatives and neighbors. The exchange of sesame and jaggery symbolically suggests people to forget and forgive all past ill will and fights and to start afresh on Uttarayan.
Cows, ox and other domesticated animals are also given a bath and fed sweets and fresh grass. Special pujas are done for the well being of cattle and plants as man’s existence depends on them.