Makar Sankrant, Sankranti, Lohri, Uttarayana, Pongal are the festivals of cultivation, celebrated throughout India and they mark the beginning of harvest season when new crops are worshiped and shared with relish and Sankranti, celebrated in North India has a special significance as it marks the worship of warm winter foods, signifying their importance at a time when the body needs them the most.
And according to Hindu calendar, there are 12 Sankrantis in a year and Makar Sankranti or Til Sankranti as it is called in many places, holds a special place among them as it is the most auspicious one and this festival is also mentioned with reverence in Bhagwat Gita and Mahabharata.
Sesame or til which holds special significance during Makar Sankranti is revered as the grain par excellence and is eaten and given away in daan.
As per Hindu mythology the god Yama blessed the sesame seed and hence they are regarded as the symbols of immortality and the seed was supposed to have originated when drops of sweat trickled from Vishnu and fell on earth.
But why is this tiny little seed valued so much?
According to nutrition specialist Shruti Sharma, “Sesame is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, healthy oils and it contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, zinc, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6 and folate. It is also a good source of protein.”
Til, Teel or Sesame is one of the oldest oilseeds known to humanity and not just for its crunch and taste, sesame has been a part of rituals since ancient times.
Here are some surprising facts about sesame which shows why it holds so much significance in Indian culture and religion.
-Sesame seeds support a healthy digestive system and colon as they are rich in fiber and they help in healthy functioning of the intestines.
-Rich in copper and anti-oxidants they are said to relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis.
-Magnesium found in sesame gives relief against respiratory disease and asthma.
-Rich in zinc and calcium, it maintains bone health.
-Rich in protein, sesame is a must have for vegetarians.
-Sesame seeds are high in the monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which helps in lowering the bad cholesterol and increasing the good cholesterol in the body.