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What is Uttarayana? – Meaning - Importance - Uttarayana Punyakalam 2019


In Hindu tradition, one human year is believed to be one day for Gods. For Gods, it is Day during Uttarayana and it is night during Dakshinayana. Uttarayana starts on Makara Sankramana Day usually January 14th or 15th. Uttarayana in 2019 begins on January 14.

Please note that there are many scholars in India who believe that the Uttarayana Punyakala or winter solstice falls on the 21st of December. But this has been ignored. 

Please not that sun's northern transit or Uttarayana in North Indian calendars begins on December 21, 2018. But Uttarayan festival is observed on January 14.

Uttarayana Meaning

Uttarayana means the northern movement of the sun.

Importance of Uttarayana Punyakalam

Uttarayana and Dakshinayana comprises of six months each. The period starting from Capricorn Zodiac (Makara Rashi) up to Gemini Zodiac (Mithuna Raasi) is called as Uttarayana. The period when Sun leaves Gemini Zodiac is known as Kataka Sankramana and this marks the end of the Uttarayana period. This happens annually on July 15th or 16th.

Uttarayana is referred as Devayana, as it is the daytime for Gods, and most of the auspicious ceremonies and rituals are performed only in this period by certain Hindu communities.

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.

Bhishma in the Mahabharata who was lying in a bed of arrows chose this period of Uttarayana Punnyakala to leave his body and merge with Brhaman. It is said that those that had lived according to Dharma and die during Uttarayana Punyakala, will not have punarjanma or rebirth.

It is believed that performing various rituals on the day using ellu or Sesame (Til) will be highly beneficial. Feeding and helping the poor on the day is considered highly meritorious.

Uttarayana Starts From

Uttarayana starts from Paush (end) or Magh month in Hindu Lunar Calendars.

In Tamil Nadu, it begins from the first day of Thai Masam.

In Kerala, it begins from the first day of Makara Masam.

Uttarayana Months

Uttarayana Months in Hindu Lunar calendar followed in North West and certain regions in South India are:

Paush end
Magh
Phalgun
Chaitra
Vaishakh
Jyeshta
Ashada
beginning of Shravan

Uttarayana Months in Tamil Calendar are:
  1. Thai (mid Jan to mid Feb)
  2. Masi (mid February to mid March)
  3. Panguni (mid March to mid April)
  4. Chithirai (mid April to mid May)
  5. Vaikasi (mid May to mid June)
  6. Aani (mid June to mid July)