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'Maghe Sankranti' being observed across country today

2021 Jan 14, 12:30,
File - Tharu girls in traditional costumes participate at a function organised to mark Maghi festival by Tharu Welfare Assembly Valley Committee at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Friday, January 15, 2016. Photo: NepalNews

Maghe Sankranti festival is being observed throughout the country today.

On this day, devotees and revellers take holy dips in rivers and ponds and worship at various temples, and savour delicacies like yam, ghee (homemade butter), khichadi and sweets.

Maghe Sankranti or Makar Sankranti is widely celebrated among all Hindus in the country. As per the astrological chart, Makar Sankranti has a special significance because from this day onwards the sun starts its ascendancy and enters into the northern hemisphere. On this day, the sun moves from the tropic of Sagittarius to the tropic of Capricorn. It is believed that the days get longer and nights shorter from today.

According to religious texts such as ‘Bhabisya Puran’ and ‘Dharma Sindhu’, devotees who observe the festival as per rituals receive special blessings and have good health.

The Newar community observes the festival as ‘Ghyo Chaku Sallnhu’ by partaking of ghee, chaku and remembering the departed souls. The festival is celebrated by partaking of ghee, chaku and remembering the departed souls. As per the rituals, senior members of the family apply oil upon the heads of juniors and offer blessings.

Likewise, a large number of devotees throng Devghat, Barahkshetra, Ridi, Panauti, Dolalghat and Kankai in Nepal, and Prayag and Gangasagar in India to take holy bath and perform shraddha (veneration).

Maghe Sankranti also has a scientific significance. Food items that are taken on this day are components of a balanced diet which increase the immunity power of a human body.

On this day, a festival is organised at Tilmadhav Narayan Temple in Taumadhi Tole, Bhaktapur, in which Deepankar Buddha is worshipped.

Likewise, the Tharu community observes this festival as ‘Maghi’, ‘Makarsankarait’, ‘Maghesankarait’ or ‘Tilasankarait’ with much fanfare and gaiety for five consecutive days. People of various communities in the Tarai region mark this day as the festival of bath known as ‘Nahan’.

Although various Tharu leaders and members of the civil society have marked ‘Maghi’ as a New Year festival, Baisakh is in fact the beginning of ‘New Year’, according to Tharu culture expert and member of Tharu Sahitya Kendra, Budhasen Chaudhary.

Chaudhary was quoted in The Himalayan Times last year as saying that people from Tharu community observe Maghi as the beginning of a new season as plans are made for managing households and farms after harvesting. He said each Tharu household recruits either new labourers or managers for farm works or makes new contracts with people from other communities for specific tasks.

Chaudhary has said that blacksmiths, tailors, barbers, priests, among people from other communities with specific professions are appointed and engaged amid the festival. However, with the change in profession of people in line with their educational skills, and also due to lack of manpower with the increasing migration in foreign employment, such traditions are gradually changing now, Chaudhary added.

During the festival, people belonging to the Tharu community hold feasts which they prepare in advance. Food items prepared from oyster, pila, fish, mutton, squab, duck, pork are consumed in the festival. Other delicacies include sweets made from molasses, puffed rice and sesame seeds.

Tharus primarily celebrate the festival as a family gathering. However, those living in urban areas have started observing the festival jointly as a fair since 2006 after the government listed it as a national festival.

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