The full moon known as this year’s Harvest Moon — a moon that appears bigger and brighter than usual due to its close proximity to earth — rises tonight coincided with a minor, penumbral lunar eclipse for many people in Asia and Africa. That won’t happen again until 2024.
Today, the summer solstice and full moon coincide — a rare event, indeed, that hasn’t happened in nearly 70 years, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. It’s a once-in-a-generation pairing: the start of astronomical summer and emergence of the full “Strawberry Moon.” June’s full Strawberry Moon got its name because the native American Algonquin tribes knew it as a signal to gather ripening strawberry fruit.
Chhath Puja is one of the few all-women celebrations observed by the women folks of the family without the necessity of a male priest and the utterance of Sanskrit mantras. Source of the festival could be in the fertility cult prevalent during the hoary matriarchal/matrilineal days of the country and in the Harappan civilisation.
Makar Sankranti is about nature, energy of the sun, harvest of new crop, and progress of mankind. It marks the end of Malmaas, an inauspicious month in the Hindu (Panchang) calendar, and the transition of the Sun to the zodiacal sign of Makar (Capricorn) to herald a change in season.
Today, the northern hemisphere is experiencing the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice marks the shortest daylight period, but it’s not the day of the latest sunrise or earliest sunset. In the mid-latitudes the earliest sunset occurs in early December, while the latest sunrise is not until early January.
People of eastern Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Orissa worship Goddess Laksmi on Kojagori Purnima night — the full moon night in the month of Ashwin of Bengali calendar, just four days after Vijaya Dashami or Dusshera — the last day of the Durga puja in the month of October. Kojagori Purnima coincides with Nabanna or the harvesting festival or season which commences from this day when the harvested grains are consumed in households.
Today is the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s all due to Earth’s tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21. Some predicted that today would also mark Earth’s doomsday, thanks to a longstanding rumor that the Maya calendar ends on December 21, 2012.