Makar Sankranti: One festival, many celebrations




Rajeev Ranjan, Subh Kirti Singh


A factoid is an item of unreliable information that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.


One of such factoids is "India is a state with many nations". Intellectuals, students, or laypeople often use this statement to justify anti-India sentiments. It is a typical example of a factoid that manifests the underlying desire to break India. This 'many nations theory' was coined by historians and intellectuals who were skeptical of the Idea of India, and today also many people accept it without challenging its intellectual hollowness.


The underlying unity of India manifests in its every sphere. In a geographical sense, the Indian subcontinent is a distinct physical entity from the rest of Asia (or the world). Our Vedas and Upanishads are revered throughout the country. The underlying current of unity can be visualized by understanding the rituals and festivals of India. When Adi Shankracharya decided to established four Matha (monasteries), he chose four different places located in four different directions (Disha) of the country. It's a reflection on the understanding of our visualization of this nation as a single common entity (the Jambu Dwipa). When Buddha decided to give his first Sermon he chose Sarnath for this purpose. It is a place near Varanasi and in ancient time it was known as Sarangnath, a famous Hindu pilgrimage site associated with Lord Shiva (sarang means snakes, nath means lord). The reason behind the decision of Buddha was that during the old days two roads or patha criss-crossed the entire length and breadth of India i.e. Dakshinapatha and Uttarapatha and it was easier to spread the message to the larger audiences from this place. It is one of the greatest examples of our understanding of this nation as one unified entity and not an assembly of many nations as communists and colonialists would like to believe.


We have just celebrated Makar Sankranti. The festival is marked throughout India with different names such as Panduga in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam, Makar Sakranti in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Lohri in Punjab, Vaishakhi in Punjab, Haryana, etc. This festival is one of the many beautiful examples of our living unity since time immemorial.


As Edmund Burke said society is a contract between the living, dead, and unborn and it is our moral and ethical responsibility to respect this contract. We must pass on the values and ideas of India to our future generations. Present Nation-state " the Republic of India" with a constitutional morality might be a 73-74 years old entity but India as a nation is thousands of years old. The desperate attempt by a few to break India from its past (taken from Germany where it has declared 1945 as a zero year so that they could forget their terrible deeds of the past) must be resisted because it is the ultimate strength - moral and spiritual - which unites India.


Makar Sakranti is the manifestation of this unity and strength of India.


(Subh kirti is Doctoral Candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Rajeev Ranjan is an independent thinker.)

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