Two calenders are followed in the Indian subcontinent, lunar calender and the solar calender.
The followers of the lunar calender celebrate the new year in the month of Chaitra, while those of the solar calender celebrate it in the month of Vaishakh. Mesh Sankranti is the day when the sun enters the Mesh Rashi that is the Aries Zodiac.
Mesh Sankranti refers to the first day of the solar cycle year. The solar cycle year holds immense significance in the Oriya, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil and Bengali calenders.
Mesh Sankranti every year falls on either 13th or 14th of April. This year, it is being celebrated on the 14th of April.
A lot of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist festivals are generally celebrated on the same day. One among them is Baisakh, also known as Vaisakh or Vesak. This year as well, it is Baisakhi that is being celebrated on the same day.
Donations Are Of Prime Significance
It is believed that donations done on this day reap good fortune to the donor. Donating grains is considered very important. The Punyakaal starts from four hours prior to the Mesh Sankranti and lasts till four hours after the day. So, making donations within this time period is believed to be auspicious.
It is also known as a day for the remembrance of our forefathers. Not only this, the day is considered auspicious for worshiping the Sun God too. One can offer him sindoor, red flowers, rice and items made with jaggery.
Taking a holy bath also reaps good luck and well-being to the devotee.
Celebrated Across India
Though the day is celebrated throughout India, however the way it is done varies.
This new year day is known by the name Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Cheti Chand as per the Sindhi calender and Naveh in Kashmir.
Tamil people celebrate it as Puthandu and keep a tray filled with fruits. They believe that seeing this fruit-filled tray just after waking up is highly auspicious. It brings prosperity in the coming year. They also similarly prepare tray of auspicious items and seasonal fruits and other eatables that signify good luck and prosperity.
In Bihar, the day is known as Satuan and they eat jaggery and sattu on this day. In Himachal Pradesh, there is a provision of organising the Bikhouti Mela. This fair is organized in the Shiva Temple, which is situated at 8 km from the Dwarahaat, Himachal Pradesh. The people in Punjab and Haryana celebrate it as Baisakhi. They cook seasonal dishes to be offered to the deity. Giddha and Bhangra are the folk dances of Punjab which are performed on this day.
It being a new year and farmers not celebrating it in the agriculture-dominated India, is something unbelievable. Farmers celebrate it by taking holy baths, visiting temples, offering the seasonal dishes to the deity and praying for a good harvest in the new year.
Though our diverse India calls it with different names, the celebrations too vary accordingly, but the whole nation celebrates it as the Solar New Year with the same zeal and religious fervor.
Donations, shopping, puja, etc., are things that are common to all on the Mesh Sankranti day.