Makar Sankranti falls on the day of the year when the sun-considered the king of all grahas (planets)-is in the rashi (zodiac sign) known as Makar (Capricorn). This is considered the most beneficial and auspicious zodiac of the sun. The calculations for determining Makar Sankranti are done according to the solar calendar. Therefore, Makar Sankranti always falls on the 14th January according to the English calendar. It is usually the month of Magh of the Hindu calendar, the 'Tithi' or the position of the moon keeps shifting because of the difference in calculations.
During six months of the year, the days are longer than the nights. During the other six months, the nights are longer than the days. The first period is called Uttaraayana. Uttara means north. Then the sun moves north from the centre of the sky. The second period is Dakshinaayaria.Dakshina means south. The sun moves southwards now. The Uttaraayana starts roughly in the period January-February. The day Uttaraayana starts is called Makara Sankranti. That day is very auspicious. We celebrate it as a festival all over the country. People bathe in holy waters. They worship the sun-god and give away gifts. During the six following months, happy events like marriages are celebrated.
Though the festival is celebrated differently in the country, it is significant to note that Til seeds (sesame seeds) and jaggery are used everywhere. Obviously, to combat the chilly winter, til oil is used along with jaggery. Til contains oil and it is healthy. Being soft, exchanging til seeds or products made from til means an exchange of love and tender feelings.