The Maghe Sankranti Festival of Nepal
The Maghe Sankranti Festival is a traditional Nepalese festival welcoming longer days and worshiping the sun. The festival is a vibrant and colorful occasion where families come together to celebrate and enjoy traditional Nepalese delicacies.
Maghe Sankranti in Nepal
Nepal is a county of festivals. One of the biggest festivals in Nepal is Maghe Sankranti. We celebrate Maghe Sankranti on the first of Magh in the Vikram Sambat calendar (14th or 15th of January) which brings an end to the winter solstice containing the month of Poush. The date of Maghe Sankranti changes every year as the Sun begins to rise in Makar Rashi.
It is a religious festival in Hindu culture. This festival celebrates the welcoming of longer days by worshipping the Sun. During the festival, the observant take a ritual bath (notably at an auspicious river location), and families get together to enjoy traditional foods.
Traditional Food of Maghe Sankranti
Maghe Sankranti is an occasion where delicious and traditional locally sourced food is enjoyed like Tilaura, Chakku (Molasys), Ghee, spinach, and Yam’s curry. These foods are rich in flavor and are commonly only enjoyed as part of a special occasion so families ensure they savor every mouthful. Yam (Tarual in Nepali) and sell roti fulaura which is made from wheat and flour is regarded as a very important food of Maghe Sankranti.
It is believed that eating these food items such as Gheu Chaku (Ghee), Spinich and yam help us become healthier and keep us warm during cold weather. Some people call Maghe Sankranti the Ghiu Chaku Tarul Eating Day. People belonging to the Tharu community in western Tarai districts celebrate the Maghi festival with lively gatherings full of music and traditional dancing. Maghi is the biggest festival of Tharu people, which marks the community’s New Year and the festival is celebrated for a week.
Volunteers Joining in on the Festival
On this special occasion, we ensured our Nepal volunteers got a chance to join in with the festivities. We arranged special dishes for the festival, giving the volunteers the opportunity to try local delicacies they’d never tried before. At lunchtime, we met at the dining hall to celebrate Maghe Sankranti. Adding to the celebration, it was the birthday of one of the participants and as usual, we celebrated the birthday of the participant with Nepali Rituals.
Before the celebration, we gave a brief introduction to the festival including how, why, and when we celebrate it. During the information session, the kitchen team presented plates full of special dishes and put them on the table. Everyone was ready for a lifetime experience. We started with the birthday celebration. As seniors, Mr. Rajesh and her wife Mrs. Bandhana put Tika on the birthday girl’s forehead and gave blessings for long and healthy life.
After the birthday celebration, we started to celebrate the Maghe Sankranti. Rituals were done according to seniority. First, Mrs. Bandana performed rituals with Mr. Rajesh by putting mustard oil on the head and giving a tika blessing and a special dish. It is believed that this oil makes cold go through the feet. In the same way, all the participants got to do the rituals of the festival.