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Makar Sankranti (also known as Makara Sankranti), according to the Hindu calendar, marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path, which is the first change in the zodiac after the winter solstice. The festival is celebrated in various parts of the Indian subcontinent to observe the day which marks the shift of the sun into ever-lengthening days.
The festival is a seasonal observance as well as a religious celebration. Makara Sankranti is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date in local calendars every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice occurs between 21 and 22 December. Day light begins to increase around this time when the Sun begins its northward journey which marks the six month northward journey of the sun known as (Sanskrit) Uttarayaana. Makar Sankranti is the first solar festival which takes place after winter solstice which signifies the return of longer days. Therefore, the festival symbolically marks the winter solstice when the sun ends its zodiacal southward journey (Sanskrit: Dakshinayana) at the Tropic of Capricorn, in the Indian month of Pausha and starts moving northward (Uttarayaan) towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the Indian and Nepalese Hindu month of Magha on this day in mid-January. In Hinduism, Uttarayaana is the six month period which begins from Makar Sankranti.
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