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What is Uttarayana? – The Importance of Uttarayana Punyakala

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 2017 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. 

Uttarayana and Dakshinayana comprises of six months each. Uttarayana means the northern movement of the sun. 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.

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.