Fri, 23 Feb, 2024

Maghe Sankranti

By Osheen Shrestha

Picture Courtesy: Ashmita Kunwar
Maghe Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated on the first day of Magh according to Bikram Sambat calendar. The other name of Maghe Sankranti is Makar Sankranti. This festival falls in winter season and was celebrated this year on 15th Jan 2016. Sankranti is celebrated as the beginning of the holy month of Magh. Sankranti is a Sanskrit word which indicates the transmigration of the sun from one rashi to another. Maghe Sankranti is one of the major and holy national festivals of Nepal. Nepal government declares a public holiday on this day so that citizens can celebrate this festival with their loved ones.

On this day, people take holy bath known as Makar Snan in holy rivers. People bath namely in Triveni - the place where three holy rivers meet. Holy Bagmati river is considered as a sacred place for such occasions. Sankhamol area is believed to be among the most sacred sites for taking holy bath in Bagmati river. Due to the ever increasing water pollution, the practice of taking bath in these sites has seen a steady decline. But Nepalese people still go to these sacred places in the early hours of dawn in order to sprinkle and purify themselves with the holy water.

Maghe Shankranti has its own story. It is said that a simple merchant from Bhaktapur was doing a good business and he also had good sales of sesame seeds. But surprisingly the stock never ran out. One day while cleaning the stock pile he found the Idol of Lord Vishnu down beneath the seeds. Since then, the Idol is worshiped as Til Madhav Idol. It is believed that worshiping the idol would bring supply of food, prosperity and wealth to people.

It is believed that Bhismapitamaha, the son of river Ganga and King Santanu in the tales of Mahabharata, had control over his death. On this day Bhisma, lying in the bed of arrows all hit by Arjuna, discovered the words of wisdom. So, it is believed people who die in this day directly go to heaven and are freed from the suffering of life and death.

Furthermore, Maghe Shankranti also is celebrated with some dedicated delicious food items eaten in this day. Till ko laddu,  chakku, ghee, tilauri, spinach and yam’s curry is cooked as special food in this day. A special type of Spinach called Patne Palungo specially grown in Nepal and yams are regarded as very important food items for this day. People of newar community call Maghe Sangranti as “Ghyo Chaku Sanun”. On this day, people of this community massage their body and head with sesame oil. It is believed that massaging the body with sesame oil and eating these food items helps us become healthier and warmer during the cold winter. Some people call Maghe Sangranti as “Ghiu Chakku Tarul Day”.

Maghe Sankranti is one of my favorite festivals. I get to eat my favorite food items. This year, I enjoyed my day with my family and loved ones.