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Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Meaning of Makar Sankranti and Jagadguru Divas (14th Jan 2011)

Makar Shankranti 2011 and Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj Divas
Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj, founder of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat

Makar Sankranti is the first Hindu festival of the solar calendar and is celebrated with great devotion, zeal and fervor on 14 January each year. It falls on the day when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Makar (Capricorn) and when day and night are of equal duration. Offerings of rice and milk are made to Surya Dev, God Sun.

Makar Sankranti is a day of great significance and marks the beginning of auspicious times. The beginning of the period, when the sun travels northwards, is considered highly favorable for auspicious activities. It is celebrated as Pongal in the South, but in the North it is observed as Makar Sankranti. On this day, thousands of devotees take a holy dip in the Ganges and other holy streams. At Ganga Sagar, where the river Ganga enters the sea, a grand fair and festival is held on this day. Devotees in large numbers reach the Sagar Island in boats, and bathe there at a point where Ganga meets the sea. There, the pilgrims also visit the Ashram of sage Kapil, who according to our Puranas had burnt to ashes the sixty thousand sons of the King Sagar of Ayodhya. These sixty thousand dead princes were subsequently revived and made to ascend to heaven by the sacred waters of Divine Ganga, as She flowed over their ashes.

Makar Sankranti day (14th Jan) is also called 'Jagadguru Divas' and is extremely special and important, especially to the followers of Shree Kripaluji Maharaj. On this day in 1957, our beloved spiritual master was conferred in Varsanasi with the highest title 'Jagadguru' by the Kashi Vidvat Parishat, an apex body of all the supreme scholars and masters of India of the time. He was only 35 years old at the time.

In many cities in India and arond the world, the celebrations are huge. People offer thousands of their colorful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. The act stands as a metaphor for reaching to their beloved God. In 2010, Swami Nikhilanand, a pracharak of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, and a representative of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Barsana Dham was invited by Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (World Hindu Council), Gujarati Samaj of Greater Houston and Hindus of Greater Houston to be the "chief guest" at the National Makar Sankranti day festivities at George Bush Park in Houston and to inaugurate the Mass Surya Namaskar Yagya at the park and participate in the kite flying festival.

Swami Nikhilanand ji will attend the festivities this year. If you are in the area, come and have a fun day of kite flying, yoga, music & games. Kite festival will take place on Sun, Jan 16th from 10am - 4pm at George Bush Park. In case of rain, the event will be held on Jan 23rd. Bring your own vegetarian picnic lunch. Event is being hosted by VHP America, Hindus of Houston & other organizations.

After the kite flying festival, you are welcome to attend two special programs in Houston, which will include kirtan and speech by Swami Nikhilanandji. One is at 12:30pm at Durga Bari temple (one day event), and the other is at Shirdi Sai Jalaram Mandir at 7pm (7 day event).

(Above: Swami Nikhilanand of JKP Barsana Dham participating in the Makar Sankranti day kite flying festivities at George Bush Park in Houston)

(Above: Swami Nikhilanand of JKP Barsana Dham inaugurating the Surya Namaskara Yagya (Sun Salutation) at George Bush Park. The event was organized by Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (World Hindu Council), Gujarati Samaj of Greater Houston and Hindus of Greater Houston)

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