Maghe Sankranti: A Holy Festival of Nepal

Maghe Sankranti (Nepali: माघे सङ्क्रान्ति) is a Nepalese festival, celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists alike, observed in the very first month, January, Or Magh (10th month of Nepalese calender). The celebration is supposed to bring an end to the ill-fated period in the religious circle occurring in the month of Poush (9th month of Nepalese calender) when celebration of festivals are forbidden. It also marks the return of Spring.

On this day, the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey. Maghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions.

~N.P. Manandhar

Observant (mainly Hindus) are supposed to cleanse themselves on this very day. The first bathe of the day starts as a ritual bathe at scheduled river locations around the country.

  • Sankhamul at the Bagmati, Lalitpur
  • Gandaki/Narayani river basin at Triveni, near the Indian border
  • Devghat near Chitwan
  • Ridi on the Kali Gandaki
  • Koshi River basin at Dolalghat, on the Sun Koshi
Crowd of observant at river basin preparing for a holy bath

Crowd of observant at river basin preparing for a holy bath

The process of cleansing is a metaphor, suggesting of removing ills and evils from one’s body and mind. This holy ceremony is a way of bidding farewell to the inauspicious month of Poush and inviting the holy month of Magh. Sweet meats and other vegetarian delicacies are prepared, shared and relished on this day. The eldest matriarch of each household wishes good health to all family members.

It’s also known as Chasok Tangnam for Kirat tribe  and Maghi for Tharu tribe.

What does the Legend say?

According to Mahabharata (Ancient Hindu-Sanskrit scripture),

King Bhisma, the one who had the power to control his own death, happened to choose to die on the day of Maghe Sakranti.

It is believed that the one who dies on this very day might achieve Moksha or salvation, a permanent release from rebirth cycle (according to Hindu mythology, a person takes another form of being after his death, as a continuous process).

~Gallery~

Nepalese observing Maghe Sankranti..

Chaku on sale on market

Chaku (molten molasses) on sale on market

Chaku (molten molasses) syrup

Chaku (molten molasses) syrup

Crowd of observant at river basin preparing for a holy bath

Crowd of observant at river basin preparing for a holy bath

Imagery of King Bhisma Mahbharata

Imagery of King Bhisma on the Carit from the Hindu mythology, Mahabharata

Kathmandu market during Maghe Sankranti

Throngs of people crowd the market of Kathmandu prior Maghe Sankranti

Observant taking holy bath at the Narayani Rier Basin

Observant taking holy bath at the Narayani Rier Basin

Sel Roti, a Nepalese delicay eaten during auspicious occassions

Sel Roti, a Nepalese delicay eaten during auspicious occassions

Set of delicacies eaten during Maghe Sankranti

Set of delicacies eaten during Maghe Sankranti

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