From the perspective of a human observer when the sun enters the Northern Hemisphere it is called Uttarayana. And when the sun enters the Makar Zodiac the day is called Makarsankranti. From this date the day begins to get longer. It is a festive day for householders to earn punya (merits) by donating food materials to sadhus and offering grass to cows. People also rejoice by flying kites and eating sweet balls of sesame.
For several decades the sadhus of this Faith go begging for alms on this day. Even today, Makarsankranti is a day of donation for devotees and well-wishers.
Swamishri in Mumbai
On 14 January 2000 Swamishri celebrated the festive occasion of Joli in Mumbai. An evening assembly was arranged on the grounds of 'Kaamgaar Kridabhavan' near Elphinstone station. The assembly had commenced at 5.45 pm with dhun and prayers. The evening program was charged with speeches by Pujya Viveksagar Swami and Pujya Adarshjivan Swami on the glory and significance of the Joli festival and Swamishri's sacrifice for the social, moral and spiritual welfare of the devotees respectively. The program agenda was interspersed with lively dances by balaks (children) and kishores (teenagers).
Swamishri was devotionally honored with an array of garlands. He was offered a shawl made of kites, a kite-card with a prayer by the women's wing, a garland made of 80 paper kites (pasti) and a flower garland.
Then Swamishri blessed the assembly of 15,000 dignitaries, devotees, and well-wishers by elaborating on the glory and significance of Uttarayana and Joli Festival. Swamishri said: "Today, we are celebrating the festival of Uttarayana. People throughout Bharat hold this day in high esteem and a day of punya (merit). From today the sun begins its march in the northern sky… Towards God as we say it. So it is a day of offering charity (punya-daan), devotion, doing Satsang and selflessly serving others. The merits of doing noble work for society, the nation, one's religion and for one's family blesses one's soul with spiritual elevation. People nourish sentiments of pleasing God and attaining inner elevation, that is, attaining God's divine bliss in His abode - Akshardham. This is the true achievement of human birth. And this satsang (spiritual association), service, devotion is to be done always but not only on this day alone…"
His blessings climaxed with the call for Joli. Swamishri stood up, with a saffron cloth bag (joli) around each shoulder, and described the tradition of asking for alms in villages. And then Swamishi's sonorous call of 'Narayan Hare, Sachidanand Prabho' rang out throughout the huge ground. Fifteen thousand devotees responded with thunderous clapping and joy. Then, for the next 65 minutes the devotees enthusiastically filed past Swamishri, offering their donations in a saffron cloth bag.