An important astronomic event happens every year in the month of June. This event is an important time marker in our lives.
As we know, the earth is tilted on its axis by 23.4 degrees. Because of this tilt and the revolution of the earth around the sun, we perceive the sun to be moving northwards and southwards between the 2 latitudes, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, successively, in its annual six monthly journey each way.
Uttarayan & Dakshinayan
On June 21st of every year, our sun reaches the northern end of its journey at the Tropic of Cancer and transits into its journey southwards towards the tropic of Capricorn. The northern journey of the sun is known Uttarayan, Uttar meaning north and the Southern Journey is called Dakshinayan, Dakshin meaning southward.
Sun – Still
21st June is the day the sun reaches the northern most point of its journey and seems to be stationary on that day at the Tropic of Cancer. It is called the Summer Solstice. Sol meaning “Solar,” and Stice meaning “stationary”.
For the people living in the northern hemisphere, this happens to be the longest day of the year.
Mid Summer Day
It is the mid summer day. A month before and after this day is peak summer in the northern hemisphere. This season in Indian languages is known as Greeshma Rthu, Greeshma meaning warm or hot. That is why we have the Hindi word ‘garam’ for hot.
In commemoration of this day, we have many sun temples in India. There is a plethora of Sun temples, almost in a straight line around 23 degrees North latitude along the tropic of Cancer, where the sun seems stationary for a few days.
Stonehenge in England
Summer solstice has been celebrated at Stonehenge in England from Pagan days.
In modern days, this day is observed as Midsummer all across Europe. It is also called St John’s day. Bonfires are lit to celebrate the hottest period of the year.
William Shakespeare, the celebrated English playwright has written a drama called Mid Summer Night’s Dream, relating to this day.
Other names in other parts
The day is similarly celebrated in other parts of the world under different names.
|Kapala Night||Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia|
|Saint Jonas’ Festival||Lithuania|