Monday, January 13, 2014

Maaghe Sankranti Festival - माघे संक्रान्ती

The Festival of Nepal - Maaghe Sankranti (माघे संक्रान्ती)

...root vegetables are filled with Nepali markets during Maaghe Sankranti time
 Maaghe  Sankranti Festival is just around the corner, so I invite you to discover more about the most important festival in Nepal. I am so happy to share the photographs of such a colorful, vibrant and exciting time of the year in Nepal. 

Maaghe Sankranti (माघे सङ्क्रान्ति), also called Makar Sankranti (मकर सङ्क्रान्ति),
is one of the most important and auspicious religious festival in Nepal. It is celebrated in the first day of Maagh (Nepali calendar Bikram Sambat) which falls on January 14, 2014.  Nepalese celebrate the festival to mark the end of winter into upcoming spring where the temperature is getting warmer and days are getting longer.  As per Wikipedia, "On this day, the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey. Maaghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions." 

Photo courtesy - welcome Nepal - Maghe Sankranti
Devotee wake up early hour of the morning before sunrise, and take a ritual bath in many holy rivers, while singing devotional songs and offer water to Surya (sun god).  According to spiritual belief, the bath is to purify the self, soul and to fulfill all the wishes.  After the dip in the water, they visit different temples and offer flowers, sacred foods and light incense.

"Observant Hindus take ritual baths during this festival, notably at auspicious river locations. These include Sankhamul on the Baagmati near Paatan; In the Gandaki & Naarayani river basin at Triveni near the Indian border, Devghaat near Chitwan valley and Ridi on the Kaaligandaki; and in the Koshi River basin at Dolalghaat on the Sun Koshi".  To read more on this, please click here.

Photo courtesy - The Network for Freelance Journalists
Pilgrims Celebrate Maaghe Sankranti in Devghat
"thousands of pilgrims come to Devghat, Nepal to take the holy bath in the Narayani River to celebrate Maghe Sankranti.  Devghat is located at the junction of Krishna-Gandaki and Sapta-Gandaki (which becomes Narayani after converging) rivers in Central Nepal. It is 5 km from Narayangath, which is the business hub of the Chitwan district and 200 km Southwest from Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal..." continue reading more here...

In addition to holy bath and visit to the temples, people go and visit the most respected elderly relatives, friends and family and receive and give blessings. They feast on certain food items during the festival, they are Chaaku (retreated molasses), Tilauri and Til ko Laddu (a chewy candy made out of sesame seeds and sugar), Gheu (clarified butter), Khichadi (traditional way of cooking rice  with  black gram daal), Sakhar-Khand  (sweet potatoes), Pidaalu (Taro Roots), Tarul (Yam), and green leaf spinach.  All food items during the festival focus on healthy eating, are geared towards warming up the body during cold days, good nourishment, a lifetime free of disease, and purification of one's body. The pictures below are all the food items used during the festival.

Chaaku (चाकु) - retreated molasses patties in different size and shapes (dark brown package) and the lighter round packages are semi-solid jaggery (गुड) for sale during the festival
Tilauri (तिलौरी) - made from sesame seeds and sugar
Til re gud ko Laddu - (तील र गुड को लड्डु) - roasted sesame seeds and jaggery shaped candy into small balls
Gheu - (घीउ) - clarified butter - butter made clear by heating and removing the sediment of milk solids
Gud -  (गुड) - semi solid jaggery in a plastic bag for sale
Image of street vendor with two wicker basket full of Maaghe Sankranti foods


If you are wondering about the photo in the left about Chaaku, it is not captured by me, but I am happy to share the link from Xinhua News by Sunil - to see more pictures on the preparation of Chaaku, please click here.
 "Local people prepare molasses..... (Chaaku in local language) for Maaghe Sankranti Festival in Lalitpur, Nepal, Jan. 6, 2014. Molasses is usually prepared and consumed during the festival and throughout winter by Nepalese. Concentrated sugarcane juice, jaggery, ghee and nuts are the basic ingredients." 

A smiling Hindu priest (बाहुन बाजे) is surrounded by daan ko maal (gifts) given in the name of ancestors placed in saal ko paat (plates made from saal leaves), given by devotee during the festival of Maaghe Sankranti.
Generosity of giving away food items during the Maaghe Sankranti 
Here is another picture of food items offered as daan gift to unfortunate - on the auspicious day, one must give food and receive blessings.
A big event and an important day in Nepali culture  -  many devotee bring gifts of foods to the priest who performs religious rituals, chants from the holy books, and gives blessings and good luck.
Amazing varieties of root vegetables for sale in the old section of Kathmandu
....looks like an elephant feet-size yams - getting everyone's attention...
....this is time of the year, every street corners are filled with sweet potatoes, different varieties of yams and taro roots..
... in different size, shapes, and textures


I hope you enjoyed the photo tour of festival time in Nepal.  Please read more on the festival from Nepalnews.com "Maghe Sankranti observed nationwide"


Devotees across the country observed Maghe Sankranti, which is the beginning of the holy month of Magh, by thronging to various Hindu temples and taking holy dip into rivers and ponds on Monday. The festival is believed to bring an end to the ill-omened month of Poush that forbids all religious ceremonies. Maghe Sankranti is also regarded as the coldest day of the year and marks the start of warmer season.


Hindus worship Lord Shiva on the day and celebrate the festival by offering delicacies such as sweet potato, sesame seed candy, Chaku, another Nepali sweet, yam and ghee. It is believed that one becomes healthier by consuming such items on this day.


Also, the largely Hindu Newar, Tharu and Magar ethnic communities celebrate Maghe Sankranti, with great enthusiasm by organizing various programmes across the country. In the Terai region, Tharu people observed Maghi festival with new dresses, and food stuffs bought from the money they have by selling new harvests made just a month ago. The government has declared public holiday on Monday by recognizing Maghe Sankranti as a national festival of the Magar and Tharu community.


Various events were organized at Tundikhel in Kathmandu this afternoon to celebrate this special occasion. Religious fairs were also organized in Chitwan's Devghat including Baraha Kshetra where people take holy bath on the confluence of Trishuli, Kali Gandaki and Koshi River"....... continue to read the entire article by going to the link here -

http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2013/jan/jan14/news03.php

4 comments:

  1. Hello.. I am Sunil Sharma from Xinhua News Agency..Applause and thank you for giving my photo credit and our agency also.. Wish you all the best.

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    1. Thank you Suni Sharma - your photos are awesome - thank you for letting me share..... appreciate you stopping by! Please keep checking my new posting!

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