Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Uttarayana – Hoisting of Flag at Temple

The term Uttarayana is derived from two different Sanskrit words "uttara" (north) and "ayana" (movement) thus indicating the northward movement of the Sun. This movement begins to occur a day after the winter solstice in December which occurs around 22 December and continues for a six-month period through to the summer solstice around June 21 (dates vary). The raising of the Flag at the Temple at this time denotes functions leading up to Makar Sankranti (Pongal) to be celebrated on January 14, 2015.

During the winter solstice the southern hemisphere tilts towards the sun and the rays of the sun appear to fall directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. The southern hemisphere experiences the longest day and shortest night and the northern hemisphere experiences the opposite, i.e., the shortest day and longest night. 

Raising Flag at Arunachaleswarar Temple

The northern hemisphere now tilts towards the sun and the rays of the sun appear directly over the Tropic of Cancer. From our perspective on Earth, the sun has apparently travelled between the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer, Uttarayana.The return journey is called Dakshinayana. 

Uttarayana means the end of the days of darkness in the northern hemisphere. The six months of darkness at the north pole ends and the six months of light begin. These six months of human time are considered to be one “day” of the Devas. The Devas awaken from their slumber and shower their blessing on us. 

The first month of Uttarayana, the pre-dawn of the devas, we spend euologising the Gods, with song, and prayer. We line our streets with the festive kolams as welcome to this wonderful period as we publicly display our joy. We strive to celebrate all that is important during this time like the viviha and the upanayana. We begin new ventures with the hope that the Devas witness these life passages of ours and shower their blessings on our efforts. Vaikunta Ekadashi, or Moksha Ekadashi is during this period, the dawn of the devas, when Lord Vishnu awakens to embrace his devotees and grant them moksha from the cycle of rebirth

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