Saturday, January 5, 2013

Why is tilgul offered on Makar Sankranti

The spring festival of Makar Sankranti in terms of cosmic movements signifies the movement of the Sun from one constellation (Sagitarius) to another (Capricorn). Since the Sun God is the God of Light, this significant movement entails auspicious beginnings as there are more hours of light and fewer of darkness.

Legend of Makar Sankranti
As per mythological legend, a demon named Sankarasur harassed the people a great deal. The people prayed to the Gods to be rid of the evil demon. Subsequently Goddess Sankranti took form and destroyed the demon. The overjoyed people thereafter lived in happiness and worshipped the Goddess. 

Makar Sankranti festival traditions
On the day of Makar Sankranti it is considered auspicious to have a bath in the sea or river. After the bath, rice and sesame seeds are offered to God. The festival of Makar Sankranti is considered a special festival for women. Married women put in 5 clay pots: cotton, wheat, sugarcane, carrot pieces, berries, whole supari pieces, sesame seeds and money. These pots are given to 5 married women. By this gesture it is believed that one will always do good deeds. "Tilgul Gya, Godgod bola" (take tilgul, speak sweetly) is the popular greeting on this day.
Reason behind offering tilgul on Makar Sankranti day
There is a major reason for offering tilgul on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. One’s soul should be as tender as the sesame seed and one’s voice as sweet as jaggery. One should have love for each other, respect for one’s elders and affection for one’s neighbours. 

One of the health benefits of sesame seeds arise out of applying its warm oil on one’s body. So also, warmth should thus be expressed in one’s thoughts, words and deeds: this is the aim of giving and receiving tilgul.

Ratha Saptami traditions and rituals
The tradition of giving tilgul continues till Ratha Saptami and a special puja is done of the Sun God on this day after a ritual bath during which seven arka leaves with rice & turmeric are placed on the head along with the chanting of a verse to invoke the Sun God. On the arrival of Ratha Saptami the Sun God sets off a 7 horse chariot, with Aruna as the charioteer (Aruna is the Sun God’s son by his second wife Vinata). The arrival of the sun on the horizon is thus known as Arunodaya.

There is also a significant meaning of this symbolic image of the Sun God in the chariot: the chariot signifies the mind and one’s thoughts are represented by the horses. The mind cannot make Divine progress unless correct thoughts are within it. By controlling the reins of the horses (thoughts), the mind (chariot) is steered in the right direction. Food is offered to poor people on this day after offering the food to the Sun God.

It is believed that the night sky on Ratha Spatami has a formation of stars which resemble a chariot.

The 2013 Ratha Saptami date is February 17th.


  1. Thank u Vandana...gr8 information.i was searching for this connection between til and sankranti and boy! am i glad.
    i had done something similar long time back and decided to add this connection to my blog. Would u mind if i provide this information in the form of a link?

  2. Shivani, thanks very much for visiting my blog. Glad to know you got the information you were looking for. You are free to give a link to this information at your blog in the form of a link. You can also see the link at the beginning of the blog which is to my other blog & contains further details of the festival.