Helping us reiterate these dreams and aspirations and inspiring hope anew, is the festival of Maghe Sankranti
The pursuit of happiness, the longing for better fortunes and better days is what everyone chases after. The journey to this utopia where everything seems greener and jollier is- as drilled into us by society- quite tedious. And more often than not, we find ourselves lost in transition to attaining said happiness. Engulfed by sadness and a looming feeling of failure we tend to lose hope in our bid for happier days. Helping us reiterate these dreams and aspirations and inspiring hope anew, is the festival of Maghe Sankranti.
Known as Maghi in the Tharu community and Makar Sankranti among those in the Terai region, Maghe Sankranti which falls on the first of Magh every Nepali Year marks the dawn of an auspicious phase in Nepal. The festival is celebrated as the end of an inauspicious phase, welcoming newer and brighter dawn. Scientifically, similar to the winter Solstice festivals celebrated around the world, this day, in the Nepali calendar, marks the movement of the Sun towards the Northern Hemisphere thus bringing warmer and longer days. This day demarcates the coming of the harvest/spring season.
Known as Makar Sankranti in the Terai region of Nepal, revellers celebrate this auspicious day by getting together with friends and family. The people feast upon seasonal produce such as yams, sweet potatoes, sesame laddus, Spinach (A Special spinach known as Palungo), and ghee (Carified Butter). A special dish consumed on this day is ‘Molasses’. People worship the Creator, ‘Lord Vishnu’ by offering him prayers and reciting the ‘Bhagwad Gita’.
The Newari community celebrates this day as ‘Ghya Chaku Salu’ which roughly translates to ‘day for eating molasses and clarified butter’. The Newars massage their bodies with oil; the elders pour oil over the heads of their younger ones and offer them blessings. This tradition is said to reinvigorate the body with strength and vigour.
Maghe Sankranti, celebrated as Maghi, is the biggest festival of the Tharu Community. The Tharu community marks this date as their new year. They get together and celebrate with other members of their community. A peculiar 300 year old custom that follows this festival takes place in the hills of Nuwakot, where the villagers host a bull fighting competition on open fields!
This year let us all take time to pause, new beginnings are just across the horizon, all we need is faith. Maghe Sankranti gives us just that, the faith needed to go further, take the first step and achieve greater every day.