Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in honour of God Surya. It is observed on the 14th day of the month of January and marks the transition of the sun from the Dhanu Raashi (Sagittarius) to Makar Raashi (Capricorn). One of the traditional customs associated with Makar Sankranti is the donation, consumption, and use of til (sesame seeds).
Special significance of Sesame
Sankranti and til (sesame) are synonymous to each other and this seamless co-relation is scientific and mythological too. Sesame holds special significance during Makar Sankranti. It is revered as the grain par excellence and is eaten and given away in daan too. There are several reasons why til is considered auspicious on this day. First and foremost, til is considered a symbol of prosperity and abundance. Til have long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to nourish the body and promote overall health. Therefore, it is believed that consuming til on Makar Sankranti will bring good health and abundance into one’s life.
Association with Surya Dev
Another reason for the significance of til on Makar Sankranti is its association with the sun god, Surya. In Hindu mythology, Surya is said to be the source of all life and energy, and til is believed to be a source of solar energy. Therefore, consuming til on this day is a way of honouring and seeking the blessings of Surya.
Sesame seeds – Symbols of immortality
According to Hindu mythology, the God Yama blessed the sesame seeds and hence they are regarded as the symbols of immortality. It is also believed that the sesame seed originated when drops of sweat trickled from God Vishnu and fell on earth.
Why should one bath with Til on Makar Sankranti?
In addition to consuming and donating til, bathing with til on Makar Sankranti is also considered auspicious. Til is believed to have to purify and cleansing properties and is often used in traditional Ayurvedic treatments to rejuvenate the skin and hair. Therefore, bathing with til on Makar Sankranti is seen as a way of purifying the body and mind and seeking blessings for good health and prosperity.
Why we do ‘Mahadaan’ on Makar Sankranti?
In the Hindu religion, daan of black sesame seeds is considered ‘Mahadaan’ and it is believed that this donation on Makar Sankranti removes all negativity from the house and life. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, every member of the family should take bath and then take a handful of black til along with rice and lentil in a bowl/plate, offer it to the Surya Dev and chant prayer. Later in the day, til, rice and lentil should be donated in the temple.
Til is also considered a sacred offering in Hindu rituals and ceremonies. It is often used as a prasad (sacred offering) in temples and is also used in pujas (worship rituals) to honour the gods and goddesses. Therefore, donating til on Makar Sankranti is seen as a way of seeking blessings and divine grace.
Also read-: Makar Sankranti 2023: Significance and Benefits
Health Benefits of Sesame
According to health experts, Sesame seeds are rich in oil, protein and vitamins, minerals and healthy oils. It is suggested to consume sesame during winter on a daily basis because it contains calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc, fibre, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folate which helps protect the body during adverse weather conditions. It is also a good source of protein. Also, it is one of the oldest oilseeds known to humanity. It is known for its crunch, high nutritional values, rich source of protein and has also been a part of rituals since ancient times as it is considered to be one of the purest forms of grains.
Health experts suggested that those suffering from cholesterol issue should also consume sesame, as they are high in monounsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid, which helps in lowering the bad cholesterol and increasing the good cholesterol.
Scientific importance of Sesame
There is also a scientific basis for the use of til on Makar Sankranti. Sesame seeds are rich in antioxidants, which help to protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals. They are also a good source of minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc, which are essential for maintaining good health. Therefore, consuming til on Makar Sankranti can help to nourish the body and promote overall health and well-being.
In conclusion, the donation, consumption, and use of til on Makar Sankranti is a traditional custom that has deep spiritual and cultural significance. It is believed to bring prosperity, abundance, and good health, and is also a way of seeking blessings and divine grace. The scientific benefits of til further add to its significance on this auspicious day.