Makara Sankranthi festival is celebrated all over India on 14th of January, every year. From this day in the Tropic of Capricorn, Makara Sankramana as it is called, the Sun moves from South to North, and, so this summer solstice day is celebrated as an auspicious festival. This northward journey of the Sun is also known as Uttarayana. Swami says that on this day, one must be more concerned with one's own journey that is nearing its end with every sunrise. The entry of the Sun into Capricorn has physical, ethical, social and moral significance. North signifies the direction towards Himachala. Himachala is made up of two words: Hima and Achala. Hima means that which is pure and white as snow. Achala means that which is firm and unshakable. Swami says that in a heart that is pure and steady, the sun of intellect enters. There is no need to undertake a journey in the external world. One's northward journey means to turn the intellect inward, towards the heart. This journey is called the quest for liberation. 

Swami reminds us that all rites associated with festivals have an inner meaning. On the Sankranthi day, every home is swept clean and auspicious designs are drawn on the floor with flour. In the middle of the design, a lump of cow dung is placed with a big yellow flower. Swami says that cow dung symbolises the cow, the "Go" which Gopala feeds and fends. "Go" also means individual souls. The inner meaning behind drawing of the designs is that the individual beings are under the loving care of God.

On this day, people traditionally prepare a special dish, called pongal, which is made of sweet rice cooked in milk. This is considered sathwic (pure) food, which promotes pure thoughts and humility. What we take in through our senses, through our thirst for variegated experiences of the objective world, is all considered food. Swami says that every particle of this intake has to be sathwic, so that one's progress towards Self-realisation is quick and fruitful.

One yearns to escape the consequence of birth and death. One constantly desires peace and joy. Swami says that for this, one must cleanse the mind. Every bad habit has to be replaced with a good one, until all vices are eliminated. The heart must be drained of egoism. Swami asks us to make this our resolution on this Uttarayana festival day. 

Further reading: