Uttarayana (उत्तरायण) and Dakshinayan (दक्षिणायण) – these two terms are commonly known among Hindu people, and are of great values in their spiritual lives. Lets take a good look into the concepts to understand their meaning, importance, and the differences between the two.
Uttarayana is basically the period when the Sun travels from Capricorn to Cancer, i.e. from south to north. That’s the reason we call it Uttarayan [उत्तरायण = उत्तर (North) + आयन]. This northward journey of the Sun from winter to summer solstice consists of three seasons: winters, springs and summers. The Uttarayana period starts on January 14 on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and ends at Karka Sankranti (July 16). In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is celebrated by the name of Uttarayana.
Opposite of Uttarayana, Dakshinayana is the period when Sun travels back from North to South; i.e. from Cancer to Capricorn. Due to the southward direction of this journey of Sun, we call it Dakshinayana [दक्षिणायण = दक्षिण (south) + आयन]. We generally see rains, autumn, and winters in this period of year.
Which one is auspicious, which is not?
It is believed that Uttarayana is the day time period for God (देव), and Dakshinayana is the night for them. So, Uttarayan is considered as an auspicious period, while Dakshinayana is not.
In Hindu religion, a person who dies in Uttarayana is supposed to go to heaven. In the great Hindu epic Mahabharatha, Bhishma when moribund by Arjuna‘s arrows, and was on the verge of death, he waited till the advent of Uttarayana to shuffle his mortal body.
Although the Hindu calendar is Lunar based, but it also makes use of Solar cycle in itself; as the Sun God has a strong impact in the life of humans according to Hinduism.