Maghe Sankranti Festival in Nepal – Maghi Parba -Bullfighting at Taruka Village
Festivals and the Hindu community go side by side. Maghe Sankranti is another auspicious festival which is celebrated around Nepal. According to the Hindu calendar, people celebrate Maghe Sankranti on the first day of Magh. Maghe Sankranti has different importance and ways of celebration among the Nepalese community. People of the Tharu community enjoy this Festival very much. They consider Maghe Sankranti to be the most significant Festival. The government gives a national holiday on this day.
Maghe Sankranti festival is the holiest phase of the transition of the Sun. This transition phase is the most important in cultural and religious values. Maghe Sankranti or maker Sankranti is the new year of the people in the plains of Nepal. Traditionally, farmers used to mark Maghe Sankranti as the time to harvest. Famers finish all their work in the field, get home, and enjoy the Festival with their family.
Maghe Sankranti is the transition period when the cold is dragged down and the warmer spring season begins. The birds start to sing to welcome the spring season. There is a different style of celebration of Maghe Sankranti in the mountainous region of Nepal. They celebrate this Festival by cooking delicious foods, enjoying various cultural programs, and singing and dancing.
Why is Maghe Sankranti celebrated?
Maghe Sankranti festival typically falls from 10th to 15 January. According to astrology, the Sun moves from one Zod, their sign, to another every year on this day. Sun moves to the Capricorn zodiac sign called Makar, naming the Festival Maghe Sankranti or Makar Sankranti. Whenever the Sun moves from one zodiac sign to another, people celebrate it as Sankranti. There are 12 Sankranti where the Sun moves from one constellation to another.
Maghe Sankranti is the most important as the Sun travels north from Makar Sankranti. People in Nepal take this Festival as the beginning of a favorable time, so they even call it a “scared period of change.”
Nepali families consider this Festival the most auspicious and ominous day of the year. That is why they think they will get God’s blessing if anything positive happens. Maghe Sankranti festival is the sign that tells us the beginning of the spring season and the end of the winter season.
Like any other festival, Maghe Sankranti is a festival that strengthens the bond between family and community members. The entire country gets in the mood for celebration. The religious books of Hindus like Mahabharata have mentioned the importance of Maghe Sankranti. The most significant person in Mahabharata, Bhismapitamaha, chose to die on this day. People believe that whoever dies on. This day will get moksha and liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. All cultural groups of Nepal celebrate this Festival in their way.
What do people do in Maghe Sankranti?
People in Nepal mainly worship the Sun at the Maghe Sankranti festival. They celebrate the power, divinity, and wisdom of the Sun. At the beginning of this Festival, people bathe in the morning; the tub should be holy. People usually go to the river near their houses to take the sacred Makar Snan. Many people drive to Triveni to take the holy bath. Triveni is the place where three rivers meet. On this particular occasion, melas and fairs are conducted on the banks of rivers.
Another famous place that people visit during Maghe Sankranti is Dev Ghat. Devghat is at Tanuhu near Narayangath, where Kali Gandaki and Trishuli meet. Every year, thousands of people visit Devghat for Makar Snan. Another river called Kankai in Jhapa is also famous for taking holy baths.
Legends related to Maghe Sankranti
There are different legends and stories related to the celebration of the Maghe Sankranti festival. Here are some of the stores:-
- As per the legend related to Bhaktapur and Maghe Sankranti Festival, a merchant who lived in Bhagaun, businesspeople and shopkeepers were creating good businesses by selling Sesame during that time, the supply of Sesame for the entire country was done from Bhaktapur. The merchant got suspicious that the stock never ran out of Sesame. He began to search where they got all the Sesame from, and eventually, he started working in the stockpile.
- Once, when he was cleaning the stockpile, he found the statue of Lord Vishnu under the seeds. People worship the idol as Til Madhav Narayan. People believe that if they worship the statue, Lord Vishnu will bless everyone with food, prosperity, and happiness. Thus, this is why people celebrate Maghe Sankranti and worship Lord Vishnu on this day.
- Another legend is related to the holy book Mahabharata. Bhismapitamaha was the son of river Ganga and king Santanu. He was compelling and had the blessing of having control over his death. That is, no power could kill him unless he decided to die. During the great war of Mahabharata, Bhismapitamaha was lying in the bed of arrows hit by Pandavas.
- On this day, I discovered the words of wisdom about life and death. People celebrate Pandavas’ victory against Kauravs at the Maghe Sankranti festival. Due to this reason, there is the belief that people dying on this day go to heaven straight and are free from the suffering of life.
What is “Poush ma pakya, Magh ma khyaka”?
“Poush ma Sakya, Magh ma kayak” is the Nepalese quote, which means you cook on Poush and eat on Magh. There was a tradition to cook the night before and eat on the day of Maghe Sankranti. So that the saying “Poush ma pakya, Magh ma khyaka” could come true. Most people cook sweet potatoes and cassava. After taking the holy bath on the river, people massage with mustard oil. Earlier, people used to massage cows and buffalo as well.
How do Tharu Community Celebrate Maghi Parba?
Maghe Sankranti festival is the biggest Festival for the Tharu community. They perform various rituals to worship Lord Vishnu. The Tharu community calls Maghe Sankranti Maghi. On this particular occasion, the Tharu family holds a big feast. All the family members get together and perform the rituals. Maghe Sankranti is celebrated for a day all over Nepal, but the Tharu community has a grand celebration that lasts about ten days. They start the celebration from the last week of Poush to the fourth of Magh.
People all over Nepal take Maghe Sankranti as the mark of the end of winter to the beginning of spring. Traditionally, in the Tharu community, they select a person, such as Bhalmansa, as a judge giving justice, Gauruwa as the person responsible for treating people, and Chirag as a guard. Bhalmansa used to be very powerful and was often called Mahato, Mahakama, and Wadgha. So, every year on Maghe Sankranti, a new individual was selected for these works.
Some Tharus celebrate Maghe Sankranti as their New Year.
Tharu community of different places of terai like Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bake, Bardiya, and Dang celebrate Maghe Sankranti as their new year. On this day, people used to sit down with their family members and make plans for the entire year until the next Maghi. They share responsibility among the family members and assign duties to everyone. In addition, if any member has not performed their duty correctly in the previous year, the case is discussed. Every member should perform their duty for the entire year, even if unhappy.
They celebrate this Festival by purchasing pigs, boars, ducks, and hens. They also make liquor at home and enjoy the festivals. People who cannot afford to buy their pigs and boars to eat many families come together and buy them jointly. In some Nepal, Tharu people organize different problems and show their traditions.
Other things that you should enjoy during Maghe Sankranti
Along with Hindu people, Maghe Sankranti is also essential for the followers of Buddhism. Samyak Dan falls on the day of Maghe Sankranti. On this particular occasion, Shakya and Bajracharya perform the famous ritual called Samyak dan Samyak dan, which is the program for donations. This ritual is primarily performed in the Na Pukhu of Bhaktapur. Hundreds of people gather to perform this ritual.
- The new year of the Tharu people
Maghe Sankranti festival is the New Year for the Tharu people, who mostly live in the Terai region. They have more than a week of celebration for their new year. Families and communities get together and celebrate the Festival. People hold a feast and melas, invite friends, and enjoy. People dress in traditional outfits, dance, and sing to celebrate their culture. They cook different kinds of food and liquor at home and enjoy them.
Bullfighting at Taruka Village
Bullfighting is an enjoyable sport during the Maghe Sankranti festival. On the special occasion of the Maghe Sankranti festival, Nuwakot di strictly organizes bullfighting every year. In this sport, two bulls are on the ground for the fight. People watch the fight and enjoy themselves.
What do we eat at the Maghe Sankranti festival?
The Festival is the occasion to try out a lot of food. Talking about Maghe Sankranti is a unique festival to eat. You should eat some delicious foods like Til Ko Laddu (Brown Sesame seed Fudge), Chakku (Molasys), and Ghee (Clarified Butter) on Maghe Sankranti; besides this, Tilauri. Spinach and Yam’s curry are exceptional foods of Maghe Sankranti. In some parts of Nepal, a particular type of Spinach called PatnePalaungo is grown, especially during Maghe Sankranti. In addition, it truly is the essential food of Maghe Sankranti.
People in the Newari community use sesame oil to massage themselves and their pet animals. People believe that messaging their bodies with this oil and eating food on this day will make them healthier. The food of the Maghe Sankranti should be warmer in the cold weather. Newari people refer to Maghe Sankranti festivalas as a Sangrati Ghyo Chaku Sanun. Some Maghe Sankranti festivals are Tarul Khane Din, Ghee Chakukhane Din, or Tilkhane Din. Here is the vital food you should not miss in this Maghe Sankranti.
When we say Maghe Sankranti festival, eating chalk immediately comes to mind. Chakku retreated molasses patties, which can be molded in any desired shape. They have chocolate-like features but taste more delicious. Chakku is mainly sold in every shop during Maghe Sankranti. Chaaku is semi-solid, also called Gud.
TILAURI AND TIL KO Laddu
Another essential food during this Festival is Tilauri and Til KO laddu. Tilauri is a simple food made from sesame seeds and sugar, similar to chewy candy. They are generally white, whereas Til KO laddu is darker.
SAKHAR-KHAND, PIDAALU AND TARUL
Sakar khanda, Pidaalu, and Tarul are highly popular during the Maghe Sankranti festival. Every market and every vegetable shop has these vegetables, and they are easily noticeable. These foods are boiled and eaten. Tarul (Yam) can also be cooked like any other vegetable. You will hear a lot of buzz about this food around Nepal. These vegetables are found in different shapes and tastes.
Ghee is called Gheu in Nepal. Gheu is the most essential ingredient in any Nepal festival. Especially during the Maghe Sankranti festival, you must have ghee. Chaaku makes the perfect combination with superb taste. Gheu makes the food taste even better. It is also a portion of very healthy and energy-giving food in the colder time of the winter season.
We are talking about healthy food during the Festival. Maghe Sankranti festival comes with the most nutritious and tasty meal called khichdi. Khichadi is a traditional food mixup of rice and dal. This dish contains all the essential and healthy ingredients. You can milden this dish to our taste. You can eat them with Gheu chalk. Khichadi is an example of a perfect Nepal dish.
Khichadi is easy to make and tasty to have. You can pair khichadi with meat, panache, and achaar. In addition to eating green leaf, Spinach is an essential aspect of Maghe Sankranti. All the food items consumed during Maghe Sankranti are very healthy.
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