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Sankranthi -
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Sankranthi is the point of time when the Sun leaves one zodiac sign and enters the next. Every time the Sun enters a Rasi (zodiac sign), Sankranthi occurs. This marks the beginning of a Soura masa. The period between two successive sankranthi is a soura masa. There are 12 solar months in a year the names of these months are that of the zodiac signs i.e. in order Mesha, Rishaba, Mithuna, Karkataka, Simha, Kanya, Thula, Vrischika, Dhanur, Makara, Kumbha and Meena (each of which comprises 30 degress forming a circle of 360 degrees).

The Karkataka Sankranthi when the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, marks the beginning of Dakshinayana (this is normally around the 16th July) whereas the Makara Sankranthi which falls 6 months after the Karkataka Sankranthi, when the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn marks the beginning of Uttarayana (which is normally around 14th January).

There are two ayanas (punya kalas) in a year Uttarayana and Dakshinayana. During Dakshninayana the Sun is moving south and during Uttarayana the Sun is moving north. There are other punya kalas Vishuvath punya kalas are the Mesha and Thula Sankranthi; Vishnupada punya kalas are Rishabha, Simha, Vrischika and Kumbha Sankranthi; Shadashiti puna kalas are Mithuna, Kanya, Dhanus and Meena Sankranthi. Generally no auspicious events are celebrated during approximately 6 hours before and after these punya kalas. However, for Dakshninayana / Uttaranyana and Vishuvath punya kalas, pakshini is to be observed. Pakshini means, two nights and a day or two days and a night depending on whether the punya kala occurs during the day or night (middle of the pakshini). The entire pakshini period is avoided for auspicious events.


This marks the beginning of Uttarayana when the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. This is the point when the Sun starts its northward movement. This period is considered auspicious for all events while the Dakshinayana is banned for some auspicious events like Upanayana. Thus Makara Sankranthi is significant and is celebrated with joy by one and all.

It is also the day when crops are harvested and the fresh produce is used to prepare delicacies. One is supposed to observe fast, bathe in the sea or river or well and offer oblations to the departed souls. Dhana is given (charity).

The items prescribed during various sankranthi are:
Mesha Sankranthi Goat; Rishabha Cow; Mithuna Food and Clothes, Karkataka Ghee and milk; Simha Umbrella and gold; Kanya Household articles; Thula Til and milk products; Vrischika Light; Dhanus Clothes and vehicles; Makara Firewood and Agni (fire); Kumbha Cow, water and fodder; Meena Land, garland of flowers.

Based on the exact time of Sankramana, the characteristics of Sankranthi purusha ( an imaginary character representing the Sankranthi) are drawn up. These characteristics indicate the general picture for the ensuing year from the sankramana. Makara Sankranthi purusha lakshana is believed to be the dominating characteristics for the whole year.
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