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Dakshinayana (Sanskrit : दक्षिणायन) 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 Karka Sankranti or July 16, as it marks the transition of the Sun into Karka rashi (Cancer).

It marks the end of the six-month Uttarayana(sanskrit: उत्तरायण) 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 the instant in 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.

Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan or Maghi or simply Sankranti, also known in Bangladesh as Poush Sankranti, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun). It is observed each year the day Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac which corresponds with the month of January as per the Gregorian calendar. 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.

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

Vaisakha is a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds to April/May in the Gregorian Calendar. In Indian national calendar, Vaisakha is the second month of the year. It is the first month of the Vikram Samvat calendar, Odia calendar, Punjabi calendar, Assamese calendar and the Bengali calendar. This month lies between the second half of April and the first half of May. Regional calendars used in the Indian subcontinent have two aspects: lunar and solar. Lunar months begin with Chaitra and solar months start with Vaisakha Sankranti. However, regional calendars mark when the official new year is celebrated. In regions such as Maharashtra which begin the official new year with the commencement of the lunar year, the solar year is marked by celebrating Vaisakha Sankranti. Conversely, regions starting the new year with Vaisakha Sankranti, give prominence to the start of the lunar year in Chaitra. In Vedic calendar, it is called Madhav and in Vaishnav calendar, it is called Madhushudan month.

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.

The Tamil calendar is a sidereal Hindu calendar used by the Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It is also used in Puducherry, and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu farmers greatly refer to this. It is used today for cultural, religious and agricultural events, with the Gregorian calendar largely used for official purposes both within and outside India. The Tamil calendar is based on the classical Hindu solar calendar also used in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Odisha, Rajasthan and Punjab This shows Hindus were well versed about planetary movements.

The traditional Chinese calendar divides 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°.

Dongzhi festival is a traditional holiday of China that has a long history and specific customs. Dongzhi means the arrival of winter. The history of Dongzhi was arrived since the Han Dynasty and it became important until Tang and Song Dynasty, when they decided to officially made a day to worship their god and ancestors. In the present days, in some regions of China, people still gather around to eat a special meal or to visit their ancestral tombs.

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 Sun 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 per 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

Maghe Sankranti is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Magh in the Vikram Sambat (B.S) calendar bringing an end to the winter solstice containing month of Poush. Tharu people celebrate this particular day as new year. It is also regarded as the major government declared annual festival of the Magar community. Maghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions.

Winter solstice Shortest day of the year

The winter solstice, also called the hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice, occurs when either of Earth's poles reaches its maximum tilt away from the Sun. This 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. Either pole experiences continuous darkness or twilight around its winter solstice. The opposite event is the summer solstice. Depending on the hemisphere's winter solstice, at the Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn, the Sun reaches 90° below the observer's horizon at solar midnight, to the nadir.

Inuit astronomy

Inuit astronomy is centered around the Qilak, the Inuit name for the celestial sphere and the home for souls of departed people. Inuit beliefs about astronomy are the shaped by the harsh climate in the Arctic and the resulting difficulties to survive and hunt in the region. The stars were an important tool to track time, seasons, and location, particularly during winter.


Chaturmas is a holy period of four months, beginning on Shayani Ekadashi—the eleventh day of the bright half, Shukla paksha, of Ashadh —until Prabodhini Ekadashi, the eleventh day of the bright half of Kartik in Hinduism.

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. 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.

Jur Sital or Maithili New Year is the celebration of the first day of the Maithili new year. Maithils eat bari with bhaat today. This day which usually falls on 14 April on Gregorian calendar is celebrated by the Maithils in Mithila region of India and Nepal. This is also called Nirayana Mesh Sankranti and Tirhuta new year. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Tirhuta Panchang calendar used in the Mithila region.

Mesha Sankranti Solar New Year in the Hindu calendar

Mesha Sankranti refers to the first day of the solar cycle year, that is the solar New Year in the Hindu luni-solar calendar. The Hindu calendar also has a lunar new year, which is religiously more significant, and falls on different dates in the Amanta and Purinamanta systems prevalent across the Indian subcontinent. The solar cycle year is significant in Assamese, Odia, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Bengali calendars.

Persian astronomy or Iranian astronomy refers to the astronomy in ancient Persian history.


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