A common festival of all Nepalese: Maghe Sankranti (Makar Sankranti) celebrated on the 1st day of Magh, is an indicator of social unification. This festival reminds us of our national history as well as religious value and beliefs of all people from the different ethnic community. The day is so vibrant with the foods items and rituals. We celebrate the festival by preparing “Tillauri laddu”(sweets out of sesame seeds(til) and jaggery(Sakhar,Velly), “Ghee”,”Chaku”(chewy sweet made out of Jiggery), “Vuja laddu” “Tarul”(yam), “Sakharkhanda”(sweet potato), and making offering to God. Similarly, different varieties are prepared from “mas dal”(black gram) such as “Furaula”, “Khichadi”(delicious meal prepared using Mas dal, Ghee rice adding spices to add taste) and different other delicious dishes.
The attraction of the festival is its focus on healthy and warming diet in the chilling winter. On this day the sun changes its direction from south to north and has significance on zodiac signs. This also indicates the start of longer daytime and shorter nights and a slight indication of coming spring. On this day people take sacred bath gathering around different rivers and holy places. Some of those places are Devghat, Ridi, Baraha Chetra. People also gather at the banks of Mechi, Mahakali, Saptakoshi, Saptagandaki, Bagmati, Kankai having temples and Dhovan(intersection of two rivers).
Different ethnic people celebrate Sankranti in different ways.
In Tharu culture, this day is considered as an important festival as they celebrate it as Naya Barsa(New Year), often called “Maghi”. Waking up early in the New Year they take a scared bath and worship Shivaji. They put white tika on their forehead, take blessings from their elders and exchange wishes with family and relatives. There is also a tradition of choosing Agua(leader) of the community. They also take this day as the day to prepare new rules and regulations to guide social behavior. The cultural songs and dances act as flavor to this festival. Children to elderly are seen enjoying “Jhrum” and “Sakhiya” dances. In Newari tradition, this festival is called “Ghee, Chaku Salhu” as ghee, Chaku is important variety for this day. There is a traditional belief that application of “Toriko tel”(mustard oil) on bodies and sunbathing helps to be healthy and live a longer life. In Kirat culture, this festival is called “Kaha Kafekwa Tahanam” which is believed to have been started by King Yalamber to celebrate New Year as “Yale Sambat”. Limbu, Rai, Yakha, Sunuwar, Sural, Girel, Thami, Baram, Dhimal celebrate this festival. This day is celebrated with much delight. So, Maghe Sankranti is a great festival representing culture, tradition, and values of all Nepalese people which are celebrated differently in different regions.