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What is Sankranti in Hindu Calendar?

In Hindu calendar, Sankranti is the occasion in which the sun enters a zodiacal sign or Rashi. There are twelve Rashis through which the sun traverses in a year. Two of the Sankranti are very important – Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti. Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of Uttarayan – sun traverse towards north. Karka Sankranti marks the beginning of Dakshinayana – sun traverse towards south.

Mesha Sankranti is also very important in some regions as it marks the beginning of New Year in Odisha, Kerala (Vishu) and Tamil Nadu (Chithirai 1).

There are two methods by which a Rashi is marked – Sayana and Nirayana. In Sayana method rashi and nakshatra starts from the Vernal Equinox – March 21. In the Nirayana method, Zeta Pisum a fixed star in Revati Nakshatra is considered as the starting point. Though the starting point in the Nirayana system is always fied, the position of the Vernal Equinox gradually changes.

As a result, the entry of the sun in Makar Rashi, according to the two systems, takes place on two different days.

In the Sayana system – the sun enters Makar Rashi on December 22. In the Nirayana System the sun enters Makar Rashi on January 14. (a day early or a day later)

For a devotee the numerous system and calculations are of no value. Sankranti in Hinduism is the worship of Sun (Surya) – who is the Pratyaksha Brahman – Visible God. It is this realization that made our ancestors chant the Gayatri Mantra dedicate to Surya.

The Tula Sankranti occuring in October is of great importance in Karnataka. The rituals dedicated to Kaveri river are organized on this Sankranti.

A month begins with Sankranti in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Sankranti is of great significance in Odisha, each Sankranti has an importance significance in a region. The most famous are Pana Sankranti, Raja Sankranti etc...