SAN GRAND, sankranti in Sanskrit, is the first day of each month of the Indian solar calendar, based on the shifting of the sun from one house (rasi) to another. From quite early in human history, the sun, and its satellites, the planets, came to be regarded as objects endowed with celestial mind, a definite personality and the capability of influencing the destinies of human beings. They became the deities whose favourable intervention was sought by men in their affairs.

The worship of Surya, the Sun god, was a feature of Vedic times, and it has continued one way or another in the Indian tradition. A popular form has been the observance of Sankranti with ritual performances such as fasts, bathing at holy places and distribution of charity. In the Sikh system, the only object of adoration is the supreme Being. No other deity is acknowledged. In the Sikh metaphor, the Guru is the Sun which illumines the mind of the disciple.

Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan composed Baramahas or calendar poems with stanzas devoted to each of the twelve solar months. Guru Nanak in his poem describes the natural landscape from month to month along with the yearning of the bride (devotee) for God, the Beloved. In Guru Arjan`s stanzas is rendered the mood of the devotees in each month. To quote Guru Nanak : The month of Chet (Chaitra) is marked by Basant (Spring) and blossoming, but the human mind, even in such a season, will not effloresce without union with God achieved through meditation on the Name under the Guru`s instruction.

Guru Arjan in the stanza on Chet observes that meditation on the Name in this month would bring boundless bliss; the Name is received through the grace of the saints ; living without the Name renders life futile and brings suffering. The Lord pervades all existence. Both of them in the end say that each moment, day or month spent in meditation on the Name brings bliss. Besides the Name, no other propitiation or worship will help. But, in course of time, the practice of celebrating the Sangrand (Sankranti) entered the Sikh way of life, if only to provide an occasion for the recitation of one of the Baramahas.

Special divans take place at g^urdwaraswhen Guru Arjan`s Baramahais read in addition to the performance of usual services. Devotees turn up in large numbers and bring offerings, especially of karah prasad. Individuals who cannot join the recitation in gurdwaras, may say the Baramaha privately. In homes where the Holy Book is ceremonially installed special services will be set up to mark the day and families will gather to listen to the Baramaha being recited from Scripture.