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. People celebrate Maghe Sankranti on the first day of Magh according to the Hindu calendar. Maghe Sankranti has different importance and way of celebration among the Nepalese community. People of the Tharu community enjoy this festival very much. They take Maghe Sankranti as the biggest festival. The government gives national wide 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 to their home, and enjoy the festival with their family. Maghe Sankranti is the transition period, which denotes the time where 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 and enjoying different cultural programs along with singing and dancing.
Why is Maghe Sankranti celebrated?
Maghe Sankranti festival normally falls from 10th to 15 January. According to astrology, every year on this day sun moves from one zodiac sign to another. Sun moves to the Capricorn zodiacal sign called Makar, hence 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. Among them, Maghe Sankranti is the most important as Sun starts to travel in the north direction from Makar Sankranti. People in Nepal take this festival as the beginning of the favourable time, that is why they even call it a “scared period of change”.
Nepali families take this festival as the most auspicious and ominous day of the year. That is why they think if any positive thing then they will get the blessing from god. Maghe Sankranti festival s the sign that tells us the beginning of the spring season with the end of the winter season.
Like any other festival, Maghe Sankranti is the 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 greatest person in Mahabharata Bhismapitamaha choose 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 on the Maghe Sankranti festival. They celebrate the power, divinity, and wisdom of the sun. At the beginning of this festival, people take bath in the morning, the bath should be holy. People normally go to the river near their house to take the holy Makar Snan. Many people drive to Triveni to take the holy bath. Triveni is the place where three rivers meet. On this special occasion, melas and fairs are conducted on the bank of rivers. Another famous place where 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 popular to take 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. During that, time businessperson and shopkeepers were creating good business by selling Sesame. The supply of Sesame for the entire country was done from Bhaktapur. The merchant got sus pious that the stock never ran out of sesame. He began to search where they got all the sesame from, eventually, he started working in the stockpile. Once 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 then, 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 a very powerful person 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 Pandavs. On this day finally, discovered the words of wisdom of life and death. People celebrate the victory of Pandavs against Kauravs on Maghe Sankranti festival. Due to a reason, there is the belief that people dying on this day go the heaven straight and be free from the suffering of life.
What is “Poush ma pakya, Magh ma khyaka”?
“Poush ma pakya, Magh ma khyaka” is the Nepal quote which means you cook on Poush and Eat on Magh. Earlier 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 do 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 people of the Tharu community. They perform various rituals to worship Lord Vishnu. Tharu community call Maghe Sankranti as Maghi. On this special 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 of about 10 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 the spring season. Traditionally in the Tharu community, they select a person 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 among all and often called Mahato, Mahakama, and Wadgha. So, every year on Maghe Sankranti a new individual was selected for these works.
Some of 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 member and assign duty to everyone. In addition, if any member has not performed their duty properly in the previous year then the case is discussed. Every member should perform their duty for the entire year even if they are not happy with it.
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 places of Nepal, Tharu people organize different problems and show up their traditions.
Other things that you should enjoy during Maghe Sankranti
Along with Hindu people, Maghe Sankranti is also very important for the people who are followers of Buddhism. Samyak dan falls on the day of Maghe Sankranti. On this special occasion, Shakya’s and Bajracharya’s perform the famous rituals called Samyak dan Samyak dan is the program for donation. This ritual is mostly 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 mostly living in the Terai region. They have more than a week celebration for their new year. Families and communities get tether and celebrate the festival. People hold a feast, melas, invite friends and enjoy. People dress up in traditional outfits and dance and sing to celebrate their culture. They cook different kinds of food and liquor in their home and enjoy.
Bullfighting at Taruka Village
Bullfighting is a very fun sport. On the special occasion of Maghe Sankranti festival, every year Nuwakot district organizes bullfighting. In this sport, two bulls are in the ground for the fight. People watch the fight and enjoy themselves.
What do we eat in Maghe Sankranti?
Festival is the occasion to try out a lot of food. Talking about Maghe Sankranti is the special 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 is the special food of Maghe Sankranti. In some parts of Nepal, a special type of Spinach called PatnePalaungo is specially grown during Maghe Sankranti. In addition to this tarul is the most important food of Maghe Sankranti.
People in the Newari community use sesame oil to massage themselves and their pet animals. People believe that messaging your body with this oil and eating food on this day will make us healthier. The food of the Maghe Sankranti should be warmer in the cold weather. Newari people refer to Maghe Sankranti as SangratiGhyoChakuSanun. Some people call refer Maghe Sankranti festival as Tarul khane din, Ghee Chakukhane din or Tilkhane din. Here is the important food that you should not miss in this Maghe Sankranti.
When we say Maghe Sankranti, eating chaaku immediately comes to our mind. Chakku retreated molasses patties, which can be molded, in any desirable shape. They have chocolate-like features but taste more delicious. Chakku is mostly sold in every shop during Maghe Sankranti. Chaaku is semi-solid also called Gud.
TILAURI AND TIL KO Laddu
Another important food to have during this festival is Tilauri and Til KO laddu. Tilauri is simple food made from sesame seed and sugar in the form of chewy candy. They are generally of white color whereas Til KO laddu is of darker color.
SAKHAR-KHAND, PIDAALU AND TARUL
Sakar khanda, Pidaalu, and Tarul are highly popular during Maghe Sankranti festival. Every market and every vegetable shop has these vegetables and are easily noticeable. These foods are boiled and eaten. Tarul (yam) can also be cooked like any other vegetable. You will get to 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 important ingredient in any Nepal festival. Especially during Maghe Sankranti festival, you must have ghee. Chaaku make 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 winter season.
Talking about healthy food during the festival. Maghe Sankranti festival comes with the healthiest and tasty meal called khichdi. Khichadi is a traditional food mixup of rice and dal. This dish contains all the entire important and healthy ingredients. You can mild this dish as per our taste. You can eat them with Gheu chaaku. 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 this eating green leaf, spinach is an important aspect of Maghe Sankranti. All the food items eaten during Maghe Sankranti are very healthy.