Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sankranti, a festival of Yellu-Bella

Makara Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for Hindus. It is celebrated in different parts of the country with different names and forms.
According to pontiffs Ram-gopal and K. Marthandaiah, Makara Sankranthi is derived from two words — Makara and Sankranti. Makara means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition. Every month, there will be a Sankranti when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. There are 12 signs of zodiac, but the most important one is Mesha (Aries). On this day, the Sun moves from Dak-shinayana (south) to Uttara-yana (north). In other words, the Sun enters Northern Hemisphere on January 14.
From this day, the six-month long Uttarayana begins which is considered as very auspicious to begin any work and days become longer than nights.
Sankranti is also a harvesting festival. As ours is an agricultural land, farmers depend on cattle, rain and sun. They show their gratitude towards them in this festival.
Offering puja on harvesting festival gives peace, happiness, prosperity, wealth, goodness and harmony and an abundant harvest. Also, families gather and share the joy.
In Karnataka, Sankranti is popularly known as Yellu-Bella festival. Yellu means tila (Se-same seeds) and ‘Bella’ is Jaggery. A mixture of sesame seeds, jaggery, dry coconut and groundnuts is distributed to relatives and friends which signifies the adage ellu bella tindu, ollolle matadi ! (eat Sesame seeds, jaggery and speak good words). Sugarcane stalks is also featured in festival.
Consuming Yellu-Bella will enrich the mineral contents in body. And dishes like pongal are also prepared using rice, jaggery and moong dal.
Another important event of this festival is a bonfire in which cattle and buffaloes are decorated with various colours and are made to jump over fire.
Makara Sankranti signifies the end of winter and arrival of spring and also marks the end of farming season where farmers perform puja to crops. It also sets start a series of festivals during the calendar year.
In Mahabharata, Bhi-shma who fell to the arrows of Arjuna in the war chose to die during Uttarayana because it is believed that the doors of heaven will open during utta-rayana and those who die in this period will attain Moksha.
The Puranas say that on this day Sun visits the house of his son Shani (the lord of Makara rashi). As Sun and Shani do not get along well, they make it a point to meet on this day. The Makara jyoti appears near Sha-barimala Ayyappa temple which symbolises the beginning of Uttarayana.
[Tuesday 13th January 2009]

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