Maghe Sankranti

Celebrating the end of cold days and chilly nights

Nepal is a country rich of festivals and celebrations. People get together with their family and friends, enjoy variety of food and have a wonderful time with their loved ones. Following the winter,the first day of Magh (according to Nepali calender) marks the end of cold days and nights and the beginning of warmer days. This day is celebrated nation wide as Maghe Sankranti or Makar Sankranti. The festival has different names based on the communities of Nepal and is celebrated in its own cultural way. Maghe Sankranti is also known as the festival of the Sun God. Therefore, the festival is a solar event celebrated during the day with much enthusiasm and merriment. The day falls on January 15th 2020 according to English calendar.

Traditionally known as Makara Sankranti, the festival also goes by माघेसङ्क्रान्ति (Maghe Sankranti) in Nepali, माघि(Maghe) in Mathili and घ्यःचाकुसंल्हु (GhyoChakuSanhu) in Nepal Bhasa. The term “makar” is the zodiac sign Capricorn. Sankranti represents the movement of the sun from one zodiac to another. Therefore, Makara Sankranti is the movement of the sun to zodiac sign Capricorn. The day is believed to be the harbinger of auspicious times ahead as days get warmer and therefore ideal for harvest season. Locals believe this day to be highly auspicious. It is also believed that any work started on this day is extremely fortunate and will bring about fruitful consequences.

The celebration of the festival differs from one community to another. It is celebrated with distinct names and have different rituals depending upon the community. Northern and western Nepal celebrates this day as Makar Sankranti. Tharu community celebrate this day as their New Year. The festival in Tharu community observes a weeklong festival where people gather together with their family and friends and attend community mela together. They also dress up in traditional attire.

Observant Hindus take ritual dip in holy rivers in different parts of Nepal. The day also observes various foods reserved mainly for this occasion such as sessame seed laddus, sweet potatoes, ghee and yam. The nation-wide celebration is an embodiment of different cultures living together in harmony. Maghe Sankranti is one of the major festivals of Nepal and the experience gained from it truly leaves you with a life-time of memories.