Maghe Shakranti is celebrated on the first day of Magh month of bikram sambat calendar. Maghe Shakranti is also called makar shakranti. It is the day when Sun transits from Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to Makar Rashi (Capricorn).
Maghe Shakranti or Sankranti is a beginning of new holy seasons. It indicated end of the winter season and beginning of warmthness. It lies in the mid January of english calendar. People believe that if they start any auspicious and sacred ritual starting from this day the work will be fully success. This day mark the longer days to come. Makar Sankranti is considered as the final days of winter season welcomming spring season.
Maghe sankranti is also known as Maghi in Tharu community of Nepal. It indicates the halfway of the winter season.
How Maghe Sankranti is celebrated?
On this day people take holy bath in the holy river called as Makar snan. The popular holy rivers to take bath in the Makar Sankranti are Treveni(where three rivers meet): Shankhamool, the bank of Bagmati river in Patan, Dolalghat, Baraha Kshetra, Ridi, The Sachi tirtha at Trivenighat (Panauti) etc.
In Panauti, the Makar Mela is celebrated for every 12 years for a whole magh month. It is estimated that cores of Hindu people visit Panauti, Nepal during Makar Mela.
Fairs are performed at the bank of rivers in kali Gandaki and Trishuli rivers at Devghat in Narayangarth, Kankai River is Jhapa is very famous for holy dip for Makar snan.Many people from India come to Devghat, Narayangarh and Kankai river to take a holy bath during maghe sankranti. People also worship Ajima mata and Rato Machendranath after the holy bath.
Tharu celebrate Maghe in very great way because it is considered as their great festival. They celebrate Maghi with great enthusiasm. All the family members get together and have a big feast for the festival. The grand celebration starts from the final week of the Poush month to the thir of Magh month. Tharus believe this day as end of the winter and beginning of summer. There is a tradition of Khojini and Bojhini in Tharu community. Since they select Bhalmansa(Justice giving), Guruwa(Person responsible for treating people) and Chiragi(guard), this is called Khojini or Bojhini. Bhalamansa is also called Mahato and Wadghar. However, different names are given according to different places. Tharu people from Kailali, Kanchanpur, Banke, Bardiya and Dang Districts of Nepal celebrate Maghi as the start of New Year. Tharus make decision and plan for the year to come on this day. All responsibilities of all family member are assigned. Mistakes commited by any are also discussed in the Maghi. Tharu's eat pigs, boars, ducks, hens etc. to celebrate Maghi along with home made liquor. Several traditional cultural shows are performed on the occasion of Maghi.
What people eat in Maghe Sankranti?
Tilko laddu, Ghee, Chakku, Tarul, pidalu etc. are very popular foods in Maghe Sankranti. Brown sesame seed fudge or Tilko laddu is very rich in proteins and expected to be good for health. Molasys or chakku, Ghee and Tilauri are also nutrituos food. Tarul or Yam is also popular food during Maghe Sankranti. A special type of Spinach called Patne Palungo is also one of the favorite dish during Maghe Sankranti. Newari community massage their body with sesame oil. Shakharkhanda and Pidalu are also popular along with tarul. These foods are believed to be very healthier and keeps warmer during the cold weather. People nowadays started to eat goats meat on this day.
Story of Maghe Shankranti:
A merchant of Bhadgaun(now called as Bhaktapur) was a businessman. He was a successful sesame business. He was selling a lot of sesame. However, he found out that sesame never runs out. He became surprised and found out idol of Lord Vishnu was down beneath the seeds. After that moment idol is worshipped as Tilmadhav Idol. There is a belief that worshipping the idol brings good supply of foods, healthier life and prosperiety to Bhaktapur or Bhadgaun.
It is believed that people dying on this day get Mokshya i.e. free from suffering of life and death and rebirth.
Festivals of Nepal
Nepali New Year
Aama ko mukh herne din
Buba ko mukh herne din
Udhauli Parba - Ubhauli Parba
Dahi Chewra Khane Din
Shree Krishna Janmasthami