Today is Makara Sankranti. We do have set rituals that accompany these festivals. Do we understand the essence of these festivals or is it too mechanical in nature? Do we have an answer for our kids who would like to know its significance?
We celebrated Bhogi yesterday at our apartment having a bonfire. Kids just loved it. These festivals indeed bring us all together as a family to mark its importance but the essence of it is lost somewhere. What will our future generations carry forward when the soul of the festival is forgotten? When the spirit is lost, importance also faints. Maybe that is why kids like to be confined in the four walls and play video games than to be on the roof flying kites.
My grandmother once said while you burn old things on bhogi. Do remember to also discard your vices along with the things in the fire. She said this does not only mark a new season but also a new beginning to inculcating good thoughts. It stayed with me. Every time I celebrate it, it reminds me to start afresh at all levels.
Sankranti is the movement of the Sun from Dhanu Rashi into Makara. It sets the completion of harvesting days and calls for an elaborate 4 day celebration. One of the days is marked to recall the role played by the animals in harvesting and in our lives. Forget about paying respects, we indulge in betting on cock fights, bull fights, elephant mela etc etc. We torture them more than respecting them.
Sankranti in Sanskrit is derived from the word Sankramana meaning commencement of movement. Now “Movement”, that’s an interesting word. Isn’t it? Anything that has life has a beginning and an end. Gita says Jatasya hi Dhruvo Mrutyh,Druvam Janma Mrutyascha. Movement takes place in Space. Now Space is still. So, we can say movement is supported by stillness.
Numerous Planets are hung in that space revolving around that one Sun which makes life possible. Gita says like the Sun that illumines the whole universe, there is only one Atman that illumines the entire field of physical activity (ref:Chapter 13, shlok 33). Movement, however it be, can only be enjoyed by the One who has experienced the stillness of his being. Would you want to disagree on this? If the movements in our lives are unfavourable, we experience lopsidedness. Latest study shows one in every 10 Indians are depressed (ref: article,Times of India dtd 29th March 2015 read”One in 10 Indians depressed and do not ignore the subtle symptoms”). Depression,stress and anxiety are no longer foreign to us. Trying to calm our mind and disciplining it for an hour or so each day will help us to create a balance. Else, we might be forced to get introduced to stillness as we grow old. We should befriend the stillness when we have control on the movement.
We are taught to pay respect to the Sun who contributed to our existence on this planet on Sankranti. Is it not necessary to pay attention to the SELF which is the source of our existence? Ponder on it.