This New Moon culminates on January 12th at 8:59 pm PST, making the approximately 24 hours proir the window of the New Moon. In the Vedic system new moons are for going inward, for rest and introspection, and it is only a few days after that we are called to act upon and express the fruits of this time.
This New Moon is in the last degrees of Sagittarius in the lunar house called Uttara Ashadha. Uttara Ashadha is translated as ‘later victory’ and is connected to success over time that is won by patience and perseverance. It is connected with Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, indicating the time of this New Moon is best used for examining our obstacles and reflecting on how we will overcome them through our slow and steady efforts.
January 14th marks the first festival day of 2021 known as Makar Sankranti. Sankranti is the day each month where the Sun enters a new sign, but this particular one is the most celebrated, as it marks the Sun’s transit into Capricorn. This is the Vedic calendar’s equivalent of Winter Solstice. This difference in dates is because of the difference between the zodiacs- Vedic calendar uses sidereal and and Western uses tropical. They are about 24 degrees difference, in this case indicated by the 24 days difference between the winter solstice and Makar Sankranti. They are both marking the Sun’s Northern movement, the elongation of the days, and the beginning of Uttarayan, the 6 month cycle of the Gods which is considered the more auspicious time of the year.
Most Vedic Holidays follow the lunar calendar but this is one of the few solar holidays, meaning it is on almost the same day every year, January 14th or 15th. It is a day for the worship of the Sun, deified as Surya. It is also considered a new year, so worship of Lakshmi can also be done.
It is more commonly known as a Harvest Festival and is celebrated in one way or another throughout India. Though still winter in parts of India, sugarcane is harvested at this time of year. Makar Sankranti and the days surrounding it are a time of gratitude, for giving thanks to nature and the animals for the successful harvest.
It is considered particularly auspicious to take a bath in the Ganga on this day, or to do puja to the Sun, Laskhmi, or a pacification ritual for Saturn, in many ways the opposite energy of the Sun. Houses are also cleaned and decorated with flowers, and in parts of India the sky is filled with kites.
We can honor this Vedic return to the light by ‘cleaning house’ literally and figuratively, decorating our lives with beauty, honoring the Sun, and offering thanks and praise for the bounty of our harvest. In recent times where our blessings at times may have felt less abundant, the practice of remembering gratefulness becomes even more important.
Love and Blessings,