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Dakshinayana (Sanskrit : दक्षिणायण) is the six-month period between Summer solstice and Winter solstice, when the sun travels towards the south on the celestial sphere. Dakshinayana begins on Karkada Sankranti or July 16, as it marks the transition of the Sun into Karkada rashi (Cancer).

It marks the end of the six-month Uttarayana period of Hindu calendar and the beginning of Dakshinayana, which itself ends at Makar Sankranti and the Uttarayan period begins. [1]

According to the Puranas, Dakshinayana marks the period when the Gods and Goddesses are in their celestial sleep.

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Equinox semi-annual astronomical event where the Sun is directly above the Earths equator

An equinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane of Earth's equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun's disk. This occurs twice each year, around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the equator.

A solstice is an event that occurs when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Two solstices occur annually, around June 21 and December 21. In many countries, the seasons of the year are determined by reference to the solstices and the equinoxes.

Winter Coldest of the four temperate seasons

Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate zones; it does not occur in most of the tropical zone. It occurs after autumn and before spring in each year. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. In many regions, winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures. The moment of winter solstice is when the Sun's elevation with respect to the North or South Pole is at its most negative value. The day on which this occurs has the shortest day and the longest night, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates outside the polar regions differ from the date of the winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth's elliptical orbit.


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Pongal (festival) Tamil harvest festival (mid January)

Pongal, is also referred to as Thai Pongal, is a multi-day Harvest festival observed by the Tamil community. It is observed at the start of the month Tai according to Tamil solar calendar, and this is typically about January 14. It is dedicated to the Sun god, the Surya, and corresponds to Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival under many regional names celebrated throughout India. The three days of the Pongal festival are called Bhogi Pongal, Mamata sankranti/Surya Pongal and kanumu/Maattu Pongal.

Makara Sankranti or Maghi or simply Sankranthi, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun). It is observed each year in the lunar month of Magha which corresponds with the month of January as per the Gregorian calendar and is a day the people of India and Nepal celebrate their harvest. It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara rashi (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.

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Sankranti means transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi to the next. Hence, there are 12 Sankrantis in a year.


Lohri is a popular Punjabi winter folk festival celebrated primarily in the Punjab region. The significance and legends about the Lohri festival are many and these link the festival to the Punjab region. It is believed by many that the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. Lohri marks the end of winter, and is a traditional welcome of longer days and the sun's journey to the northern hemisphere by Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. It is observed the night before Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi, and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Bikrami calendar and typically falls about the same date every year.

September equinox Astronomical event of the Solar System

The September equinox is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time between September 21 and 24.

March equinox The equinox on the Earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator

The March equinox or northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from Earth. The March equinox is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and as the autumnal equinox in the Southern.

The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms. Xiàzhì, Geshi, Haji, or Hạ chí is the 10th solar term, and marks the summer solstice. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 90° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 105°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 90°.

<i>Dongzhi</i> (solar term)

The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms. Dōngzhì, Tōji, Dongji, Tunji, or Đông chí is the 22nd solar term, and marks the winter solstice. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 270° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 285°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 270°. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around 21 December and ends around 5 January.

The term Uttarāyaṇa is derived from two different Sanskrit words "uttara" (North) and "ayana" (movement) thus indicating a semantic of the northward movement of the Earth on the celestial sphere. 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. This difference is because the solstices are continually precessing at a rate of 50 arcseconds / year due to the precession of the equinoxes, i.e. this difference is the difference between the sidereal and tropical zodiacs. The Surya Siddhanta bridges this difference by juxtaposing the four solstitial and equinotial points with four of the twelve boundaries of the rashis.

Makara is the name of a zodiac sign in Indian languages known as Capricorn in English. "Jyoti" means "light" in Sanskrit. Thus "Makara Jyoti" means "Light of Capricorn".

Maghe Sankranti Nepalese festival

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Winter solstice astronomical event of the Solar System

The winter solstice, hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. For that hemisphere, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice. Its opposite is the summer solstice. Also the Tropic of Cancer or Tropic of Capricorn depending on the hemispheres winter solstice the sun goes 90 degrees below the horizon at solar midnight to the nadir.

Daytime Period of a day in which a location experiences natural illumination

On Earth, daytime is the period of the day during which a given location experiences natural illumination from direct sunlight. Daytime occurs when the Sun appears above the local horizon, that is, anywhere on the globe's hemisphere facing the Sun. In direct sunlight the movement of the sun can be recorded and observed using a sundial that casts a shadow that slowly moves during the day. Other planets and natural satellites that rotate relative to a luminous primary body, such as a local star, also experience daytime, but this article primarily discusses daytime on Earth.

Season Subdivision of the year based on orbit and axial tilt

A season is a division of the year based on changes in weather, ecology, and the number of daylight hours in a given region. In popular culture, seasons are often divided by calendar date irrespective of weather and other deciding factors. On Earth, seasons are the result of Earth's orbit around the Sun and Earth's axial tilt relative to the ecliptic plane. In temperate and polar regions, the seasons are marked by changes in the intensity of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface, variations of which may cause animals to undergo hibernation or to migrate, and plants to be dormant. Various cultures define the number and nature of seasons based on regional variations, and as such there are a number of both modern and historical cultures whose number of seasons vary.


  1. James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 351–. ISBN   978-0-8239-3179-8.