Today's Beautiful Gem: `The Sun's Chariot turns back!' by M. Udayakala

"The sun's chariot is turning to the north;
The light of life is coming to the north;
The wailing winter is gone; gone at last;
The spring will arrive with blossoms to last.

"May barns be full with grains of wheat and rice!
May homes be full with children's songs and cries!
May life be full with joy and fulfillment!
May earth be full with peace and contentment!"

Note: Jan 14 is Makara Samkraanti as well as the harvest festival
of Pongal in the Hindu calendar. The sun, in its apparent motion,
enters the makara raas'i (Capricorn) on Jan 14. It is the beginning
of the UttaraayaN or winter solstice. However, I am always puzzled.
The winter solstice occurs around Dec 23 and the vernal equinox
around Mar 22. The makara Samkraanti occurs on Jan 14 and the solar
new year to coincide with the equinox on Apr 14. How is it that we
have in the Hindu calendar this difference in the dates amounting
to more than three weeks? Were the dates of the solar events
originally right and somehow errors crept in later? Historians
specialising in ancient history, Vedic scholars, astronomical
historians and astrologers out there! May be one of you has an
answer. Let me wish you all a happy Samkraanti and Pongal!

Om Saantih! Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao