Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year, Makara Samkranti and the 12 Day Aditya Festival

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 14 Jan 2018 05:21 and updated at 14 Jan 2018 08:10


I have already written articles detailing how the birth, death and rebirth (described as the resurrection and also as the second-coming) of Jesus is an appropriation of the ancient traditional belief of the birth, death, rebirth, resurrection and the second-coming of the Sun, while traversing apparently in the sky of Earth here at IndiaFacts (Winter Solstice and Christmas – A Journey into pre-Christian Traditions) and here at MyIndiaMyGlory ( How the Church Shifted Christmas Day to Coincide with the Winter Solstice).

To summarize, in the Northern Hemisphere, where many of the world’s ancient civilizations are situated, we experience the Winter Solstice (now occurring on 21st December) when the Sun, as seen and felt from Earth, is at its weakest strength, giving us the shortest day and the longest night. Hence the Sun’s passage through the Winter Solstice is celebrated as the death and resurrection of the Sun. From the Winter Solstice, the Sun moves to the Vernal Equinox (20th March), growing brighter and hotter, which is the 2nd coming or second orbit of the Sun. Obviously the Sun will have more orbits and ‘comings’, since it is a natural cycle. The Abrahamic theology picks and chooses from this cycle and attribute only one birth, death and resurrection to Jesus and stops at a 2nd coming. Such picking and choosing is quite common in Abrahamism, such as its picking and choosing of Yahweh as the ONE AND ONLY ONE Abrahamic monotheist god, from among the many Gods and Goddesses like Asherah belonging to the ancient Canaanite pantheon.

The Samskrit term Samkalpa is the collective super-conscious expression of an idea or concept having a universal appeal, mistranslated to English as faith, belief or myth. The Samkalpa of a solar deity or a Sun-God, undergoing death and resurrection is first expressed in ṚgVeda, in the story of the 8th son of Aditi viz. Mārthāṇda. This was transposed to another son of Aditi viz. Mitra in the Western frontiers of Indo European speakers, viz. among the Romans. Mithra is prominently mentioned in the Avestan traditions, the Western cousins of the Vedic people to the west of river Sindhu, from where his worship spread to as far as Rome. Here the worship of Mithra became very popular in the form of Mithraism. They celebrated the death and rebirth of Mithra, the Sun-God, during the Winter Solstice. In Abrahamic theology, this Sun-God who died and resurrected turns into the ‘son of god’, viz. Jesus.


The Church openly admits that the exact date of birth of Jesus is unknown. The clues about seasons mentioned during the birth of Jesus rules out a winter season and indicates that he may be born in warmer climates, in summer or in early fall that are now experienced in March and April . It was convenient for the Church to designate the Winter Solstice as the birthday of Jesus. A few centuries ago, the Winter Solstice was occurring on 25th December. This was the reason why the birth of Jesus was fixed at 25th December. A few more centuries ago, the Winter Solstice was occurring on 6th January (celebrated as Christmas Day in Armenia) and even before that on 7th January (celebrated as Christmas Day by the Orthodox and Coptic Churches).

This is because, the Winter Solstice shifts its position in the sky by 1 degree in approximately 72 years due to the phenomenon known as the Precession of Equinoxes. It occurs due to the slow turning of the Earth’s rotation-axis. Thus, the ancient sky watchers has calculated that in around 25,920 years (72 x 360), the four nodal points in the sky, viz. the two equinoxes (the Vernal Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox) and the two solstices (the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice) apparently make one full revolution in the Earth’s sky, returning back to their original positions against the backdrop of the stars and constellations seen from Earth. The modern value of this period is 25,776 years. This period is equivalent to the two Mārkaṇdeya Mahā Yugas of 12,000 years each (one ascending and another descending) with an interval a few hundred years between them. Mārkaṇdeya Mahā Yuga of 12,000 years is mentioned in the Mahābhārata (mbh.03.182.18-22). It can be used as a time-scale to record human prehistory in the Holocene period.

The secret of the Precision of the Equinoxes and Solstices as well as the correspondence between the sky and the annual calendar was known to the ancient sky watchers. There are 365.25 days in a year (or approximately 360 days), while the sky is divided into 360 divisions. One degree shift in the position of Winter Solstice in the sky is same as a 1 day shift in the annual calendar of 360 (more precisely 365.25) days.

The 12 major divisions and the 360 sub-divisions of the sky described as Kālachakra, with its three modes of measuring time, is found in RgVeda, 1st Mandala, 164th Hymn, and 48th Verse as shown below:-

द्वादश प्रधयश् चक्रम् एकं त्रीणि नभ्यानि क उ तच् चिकेत
तस्मिन् साकं त्रिशता न शङ्कवो ऽर्पिताः षष्टिर् न चलाचलासः

dvādaśa pradhayaś cakram ekaṃ trīṇi nabhyāni ka u tac ciketa
tasmin sākaṃ triśatā na śaṅkavo 'rpitāḥ ṣaṣṭir na calācalāsaḥ

Twelve {dvādaśa} are the major-spokes {pradhayaś}, and the wheel {cakram} is single {ekaṃ}; three {trīṇi} are the naves {nabhyā}. Who has understood it {ka u tac ciketa}? On it are set together 360 spokes, which cannot be loosened {na calācalāsaḥ}.

The three naves represents the three modes of measuring time using the sky as a giant clock viz. the Kālachakra and the Sun as its ONE AND ONLY ONE dial. The three modes are respectively, (1) the daily motion of the Sun causing the day and night, (2) the annual motion of the sun causing the Uttarāyana and Dakshināyana (viz. respectively the northern and southern annual shifting of the solar path in Earth’s sky) and (3) the Precession of the Equinoxes and Solstices causing the ascending and descending Mārkāṇdeya Mahā Yugas. These three motions are due to (1) the Earth’s spinning on its own axis in 24 hours, (2) the Earth’s orbit around the Sun in 12 months and (3) the rotation of the Earth’s spin-axis in around 25,920 years respectively.

There is a difference of 4 days from December 25th to December 21st. Winter Solstice was occurring on 25th December, around 288 years ago (72 x 4) viz. in around 1729 CE. The Armenian Christmas on 6th January is the remnant of an older Christmas date, made to coincide with an older Winter Solstice when it was occurring on 6th January, around 1152 years ago (72 x 16), in around 865 CE. Similarly the Christmas date of 7th January celebrated by the Orthodox and Coptic Churches is the remnant of an older Christmas date, made to coincide with the Winter Solstice when it was occurring on 7th January. This was around 1224 years ago (72 x 17) or in around 793 CE. There never was any fixed date for Christmas. The objective was to appropriate the highly popular Winter Solstice celebrations, observed by most of the cultures worldwide. Hence the Christmas was occasionally shifted to coincide with the slowly shifting Winter Solstice.

There is thus an urgent need for the world to now return back to the roots and celebrate the end of the year season of Winter Solstice, as the festival of the Sun-Gods rather than as Christmas.

The Twelve Day Ādityā Festival

The sons of Aditi are designated as Ādityās, the Vedic equivalent of Sun-Gods. ṚgVeda mentions about the 7 Ādityas as Varuna, Mitra, Aryama, Bhaga, Amśa, Dhātri and Indra with Mārthāṇda as the 8th. Another name of Mārthāṇda is Vivasvat. Later Vishnu was added to the list making it 9. Finally the number became 12 and listed as Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, Bhaga, Amśuman, Dhāta, Indra, Vishnu, Puśān, Tvaṣta, Parjanya and Vivasvat. These 12 Ādityās preside over the 12 divisions of the sky.

The 12 Day festival of Ādityās is proposed to start from 21st December, the Winter Solstice Day and then proceed for 12 days, ending on 1st January, the New Year Day. Each day will be celebrated in dedication to one of the 12 Ādityās. Below is an example of how Aditya Festival of 12 days can be conducted from 21st December to 1st January on every year:-

21-Dec Vivasvat (Mārthāṇda)
22-Dec Parjanya
23-Dec Tvaṣta (Tvaṣtr)
24-Dec Puśān
25-Dec Mitra
26-Dec Varuna
27-Dec Aryaman (Aryama)
28-Dec Bhaga
29-Dec Amśuman (Amśa)
30-Dec Dhāta (Dhātri)
31-Dec Indra
01-Jan Viṣṇu

Which Āditya needs to be celebrated in which day can be flexible or it can be synchronized pan India or world-wide, with some guidelines and consensus arrived at through different traditional communities. Waking up early in the morning and observing the rising sun with prayers made to the Āditya chosen on that day, needs to be part of the ritual that can be easily observed by all practicing Hindus willing to celebrate the 12 day Āditya Festival. Apart from this, other Pūja and prayers can be performed in temples or in individual houses by the Purohitas.

The 12 days starting with 21st December to 1st January also have the significance that it constitute the present as well as 11 older days in which the Winter Solstice occurred, justifying the celebration of the other 11 Ādityās in these days along with the celebration of Vivasvat on the current Winter Solstice Day on 21st December. The Winter Solstice is also the start of the Uttarāyana motion of the Sun (the northern movement of the zenith of the Sun’s orbit in the sky of Earth) as explained earlier. In this period, the length of the day grows and the length of the night shrinks, until both the day and night becomes of equal duration as we reach the Vernal Equinox. This period is considered as holy by Hindus. The Kuru warrior Bhiśma chose to die during the holy period of Uttarāyana, after his fall during the Kurukśetra War according to the Mahābhārata.

Shown below is an Āditya Festival Configuration where Vivasvat is honored on 21st December, Mitra on on 25th December, Indra on 31st December and Viṣnu on 1st January.


Familiarizing with the 12 Ādityas

Vivasvat (Mārthāṇda)

Mārthāṇda is born as the 8th son of Aditi, the sky goddess. He is born dead but later sprang to life. Aditi, the sky goddess shuns Mārthāṇda when he appeared dead (symbolizing sunset) and takes him back when he is resurrected (symbolizing sunrise). Aditi sets aside him for the cycle of birth and death, representing the daily, annual and Precessional motions of the sun, all of them cyclic in nature, giving rise to the sunrises and sunsets, the Uttarāyana and Dakshināyana as well as the ascending and ascending Yugās respectively. Mārtāṇda is etymologically derived from mārta meaning “dead or undeveloped,” (from the root mri -> mrta) and aṇda meaning egg. Vivasvat is the later name of Mārthānda. He is also the Sūrya Nārāyana.


Parjanya is the rain giving Āditya (son of Aditi). He fertilizes the earth. As per Atharva Veda, he is the father and Pṛthvi the mother of all beings. His other wives are Bhūmi and Vasa the sacred cow. Parjanya is the udder and lightning are the teats of the rain-cow and rain is her milk. He is also the rain-bull controlled by Indra. He is the father of arrow or reed which grows rapidly in rainy season. He is also considered as a protector of poets and an enemy of flesh-eating fire.


Tvaṣṭṛ is the artisan, the architect or the fashioner, one among the 12 Ādityas. He is the Purusha, a visible form of creative energy who emerges from the naval of the invisible Vishvakarman. He is also the Hiranyagarbha, Prajāpati and Brahma. He makes things like Indra’s Vajra weapon. He guards Soma. He creates bodies of men and women. He is the Garbha-pati, the lord of the womb and is invoked for by those desiring an offspring. His wife was Hiranyakashipu’s daughter. Their son was Triśiras, killed by Indra. Tvaṣṭṛ then creates Vṛtra who too was killed by Indra. Saranyu was Triśiras’s twin brother. Triśiras is also known as Viśvarūpa. Tvaṣṭṛ’s daughter Saranya marries Vivasvat. Their children are Yama and Yami, the twins and the first humans. In the Mahābhārata, Tvaṣṭr is sage Śukrā’s son, with the name Rathakāra. Tvaṣṭr made the three worlds using the pieces of the sun.


Pūṣan is the lord of marriages, meetings, journeys, roads and the feeding of cattle. He conducts ātman into the other world. He protects travelers from bandits and wild beasts. He protected men from wicked men. He is the guide leading one towards rich pastures and wealth. He carried a golden lance, a symbol of activity. His chariot is pulled by goats. He drives the Sun in its course across the sky. He is also regarded as Kavi. Pūṣan is mentioned as losing a teeth during the Daksha Yāga.


Mitra is the friend and assistant of Varuna. Both of them together are the lords of social contracts, oaths, covenants, treaty, agreement and promise. He presides over bonding and alliances and hence also represents friendship and companionship. Vedic Mitra was worshipped by the Avestans (the Daityas) as Mithra and his worship spread to as far as Rome where he is worshipped as the god who died and later resurrected, a symbolism which was appropriated into Christianity in the myth of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Mitra is the guardian of Ṛta. In the Brāhmanās, Mitra represents the sun at dawn and Varuna the sun at dusk. Here Mitra represents the priesthood and Varuna represents the royalty. Mitra and Varuna are young, wearing glistening garments, and are the guardians and rulers of the whole world. Varuna is harsh due to his punishing nature while Mitra is mild and friendly. They along with Indra are the sustainers of mankind. Mitra is likened to Savitr. Viṣnu is able to make his three strides because of the Ṛta guarded by Mitra.


Varuna is the chief of the Ādityas, whose name means to surround, cover, restrain, bind or check (from root vr – vri). He ordains all things. Thus he personifies the Universal Law viz. Ṛta, the inherent order or the inherent rhythm of the Universe. He is the lord of the sky, the cosmic ocean as well as the terrestrial ocean, seas and all waters. Varuna upholds the moral law and punishes those who errs. Varuna and Mitra are often mentioned together. They live in a golden palace where honey flows. The Sun is their eye. They leads the 7 Ādityas. They both are the lords of social contracts and oaths. Varuna is the patron deity of the physicians. He is thus the Samudra Nārāyana or Dhanvantari.


Aryaman is the third most prominent Āditya after Mitra and Varuna. His name indicates that he is the "close friend", "play-fellow" or "companion". He represents the mid-morning solar disk. He is the protector of mares. The Milky Way (aryamṇáḥ pánthāḥ) is his pathway. Indra is asked to obtain boons and gifts from Aryaman.


Bhaga means the lord or patron. He presides over wealth, good-fortune, prosperity and opulence. He is the distributor of wealth among his followers. He represents the Sun at dawn with goddess Uṣas being his sister. He also occasionally presides over marriages. Bhagavān, which is an epithet of many gods is derived from the name Bhaga.


Amśuman is the lord of the wind. He arrives in a chariot in the Shita (Winter) season. The sun takes the form of Amśuman in the month of Āṣāda (now in July) with 15 rays. The word Amśa means a portion. He represents a mild Sun.


Dhāta or Dhatṛ means the creator and hence represents the creative aspect of the Sun. He is thus equivalent to Prajāpati and Brahma.


Indra, the best one, is the most popular son of Aditi mentioned in the four Vedas and the chief of the Ādityās, a title he gained from Varuna. Indra is the slayer of Vṛtra the obstructer of human progress, there by bringing rains and progress to humanity. Vṛtra means obstacle or eclosure. He also slays Triśiras. Both are sons of Tvastar. Viṣnu is Indra’s companion like Mitra is Varuna’s companion. Indra is the king of Svarga. He is the lord of lightning (Manyu) and thunder. He presides over storms, rains and river flows. He is also known as Śakra, the powerful one. He is mentioned as Meghavāhana (who use the clouds as his vehicles), Devarāja (the king of the Devas) and as Devendra (the best among the Devas). He is also known as Vāsava (the lord of the Vasus). He is hailed as Vajrapāni (the holder of the Vajra weapon which symbolizes the thunder-bolt. Indra is often represented as a bull. Indra is invoked in battles as a heroic leader. He milks the cloud-cows, giving rains to humanity.


Viṣnu is one among the prominent Ādityas, mentioned prominently as a close friend, brother and assistant of Indra. He helped Indra to kill Vŗtra. He is the one who enters everywhere (from the root viś). He resides in the highest abode where the departed ātman can reside. He supports the heaven and earth along with Indra. Both Viṣnu and Indra together produces the sun, the source of all energy and light. In Yajurveda, Viṣṇu is described as the Supreme Being Nārāyana. Atharva veda mentions about the Varāha who rises up goddess Pŗthvi from the depths of cosmic ocean. The mighty deed of Viṣu is his three strides by which he measured the terrestrial and upper regions, because of which he is called Trivikrama.

New Year

Coincidentally, the Winter Solstice once coincided with the New Year Day viz. 1st January, in around 864 years ago, viz. in around 1153 CE. It is very clear that the tradition of starting the beginning of the year with Winter Solstice is responsible for the date of January 1st now celebrated worldwide as the New Year Day. The Church tries to explain away it as the date of the circumcision of Jesus. Since the date of birth of Jesus is unknown, it is anybody’s guess how much little the Church knows about the date of the circumcision of Jesus, based on the Jewish custom of circumcising a baby boy after birth.

There is another tradition of starting the New Year with Vernal Equinox, which is occurring now on 20th March. But a few centuries back (around 792 years ago, in 1225 CE) it was occurring on 1st April. This date is currently considered worldwide as the start of the Financial New Year. Much earlier than this, the Vernal Equinox was occurring around 14th (or 15th) April which is currently celebrated a traditional New Year by Hindus as Vishu in Kerala, as Bihu in Assam and as Vaishakhi (Baishakhi) in Northern India. This was around 1800 years ago in around 217 CE.

Makara Samkrānti

Around 1728 years ago, the Winter Solstice was occurring on January 14th, coinciding with the crossing of the Sun, in the sky of Earth, to the Makara Rāśi (the zodiac sign of Capricorn), one of the 12 divisions of the sky or the Kālachakra. This is called Makara Samkrānti or Makara Samkramaṇa. In memory of that old date of Winter Solstice, the Hindu tradition still celebrate Makara Samkrānti as the start of Uttarāyana. This needs to change. Hindus need to celebrate the Uttarāyana at 21st December, which is the true Winter Solstice Day and the true start of the Uttarāyana. Many rituals meant for celebrating the Winter Solstice are now celebrated during the Makara Samkrānti in January 14th. These needs to be shifted to 21st December. Our ancient Ṛṣis’s intent for celebrating Makara Samkranti was to celebrate the Winter solstice and thus to celebrate the death, resurrection and rebirth of Mārtānda symbolizing the lowest solar heat & light felt during Winter Solstice and the subsequent rise in the heat & light, post the Winter Solstice day. By not shifting celebrations from January 14th to 21st December, the Hindu tradition too is in the same state of the Church which can't shift Christmas from 25th December to 21st December even though Winter Solstice has now shifted from 25th December to 21st December.
Ṛṣis as well as the Hindu scriptures are unanimous in mentioning the need for celebrating the festivals in the correct seasons to generate the necessary positive outcome and to increase the prosperity and well being of the society.

Traditional scholars are seriously discussing this issue and it is hoped that this will be soon resolved. The festival of Ādityās will then begin soon, resulting in the spiritual renascence of this world which is now witnessing a collective spiritual ascend!


1. - Clues to the Birth Date of Jesus - By Larry R. Lasiter
2. - Biblical Evidence Shows Jesus Christ Wasn't Born on Dec. 25
3. - Christmas Day around the world
4. - On the Adityas
5. Popular Dictionary of Hinduism – Werner Karel
6. RgVeda – The Seven Sons of Aditi and Mārtānda – 10.72, 02.27
7. Vishnu Purāna – Chapter 50
8. - Linga Purāna
9. - Vedic Mythology - Anthony Macdonell

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