Maghe Sankranti is celebrated on the first day of Magh (10th month) in the Nepali calendar. This festival might not be as much celebrated as Dashain and Tihar by Brahmins and Chettris. But, for Tharu people, this festival is very important. The reason Makar Sankranti and or Maghe Sankranti is celebrated at the first of Magh is to worship the sun. In Maghe Sankranti, people worship as Poush is the coldest month, starting from Magh, people worship the god of the sun for long sunny days. People also prepare special food items like, teel ko laddu, khichadi, chaku, tarul, etc.
In addition, it is also the new year for the Tharu community. Anyway, in simple words, we can say that Maghe Sankranti is celebrated to drive the inauspicious phase that starts from December or mid-December to mid-January away.
The Legend of Maghe Sankranti.
It is believed that in the old times, a merchant from Bhadgaun which is now called Bhaktapur was doing some kind of business and his business was booming. He sold a good amount of sesame but he was never out of stock. One day, the merchant decided to clear out his stock and see why on earth are his sesame never-ending. So, he sat down and started cleaning his one by one. And when he reached to the bottom of it. You won’t believe what he found. apparently, Lord Vishnu was sitting down at the pile of sesame. Since then, the Idol is cherished as Til Madhav Idol believing he will bring prosperity to the town of Bhaktapur.
Another legend surrounding Maghe Sankranti is that it’s said people who die on this day are bound to go to heaven. On this day during the Mahabharat, Bhismapitamaha who was the son of King Santanu, and river Ganga, was found in his bed laying with a body full of arrows hit by Arjun. This is where he found the words of wisdom relating to life and death. Hence, this is where the legend came from.
How is it Celebrated?
Those who celebrate Makar Sankranti take a holy bath also known as Makar Snan. Generally, this bath is taken at Triveni meaning where three rivers meet. Some of the famous rivers for the bath are Shankhamol, located in Patan (which is the bank of the Bagmati river) , Sachi Tirtha located at Panuti, and Dolalghat, at the Baraha Kshetra.
The Tharu people celebrate it by holding big festivals with their families. Their grand celebrations last quite long, from the end of Paoush to the 3rd of Magh. Nonetheless, the richer of Tharus buy lots of pig and boar meat to eat with their homemade alcohol. And those who can’t buy a whole themselves come together and buy one jointly.
Regardless, there’s a legend surrounding Maghe Sankranti. We will make sure to discuss it shortly. But first, let’s take a look at some delicious foods you can make at your home for Maghe Sankranti. Delicious food and laddu are eaten with ghee for the benefit of health in winter.
Foods To Eat In Maghe Sankranti
1. Sweet Potatoes & Yam.
Sweet Potatoes and Yams are steamed a day before or during the night of the last day of Poush. Then they are eaten in the early morning with some ghee. Along with sweet potato and yam, taro roots are eaten as well in the same process.
In Nepali, Taro Roots mean Pidaalu, sweet potatoes mean Sakar Khanda, and Yam are called Tarul. These are consumed with Gheu. Gheu is clarified butter made after clearing the sediment of milk found in butter. As mentioned above, these foods are consumed to drive the cold away from your body. It’s believed that if you eat it after massaging your body with sesame oil you’ll get healthier.
Maghe Sankranti is also a plea for the good of harvest for a beautiful harvesting year. So, this day, people make Khichadi at their homes and offer it to the Lord of Rice. Then, this Khichadi is served to other devotees who come to pray at the sample as prasad.
It is believed for a really long time that Lord Sahni will be happy to have been offered Khichadi at that time of the year.
To make Khichadi, you will need Lentil, rice. Ghee, turmeric powder, salt, ginger paste, and oil. With the ingredients mentioned, you will need a pressure cooker. Furthermore, the cooking process starts by adding salt, turmeric, lentil, and oil then letting the lentil cook. As soon as the pressure cooker hits around three whistles, once again, you need to add water, rice, ghee, and ginger paste.
On a small to medium heat, without covering the pressure cooker, cook it until the rice is done. Now, the Khichadi is ready to be served. You can serve it as it is. But for the best taste, serve it with some scallion or pickle/ achar.
Til Laddu is made with sesame and jaggery. This is our favorite treat from Maghe Sankranti and eating this laddu with ghee is a treat to the soul. This laddu is certainly heavenly. It is also a staple food that you must not miss on this auspicious day.
Both Black and White Sesame are used to make two kinds of laddu. I personally favor black sesame laddu because the sweetness is a little less compared to white sesame. But, they’re both great treats. The next laddu that’s eaten in Maghe Sankranti is Bukha ko Laddu. It is also known as Murmura or Muri laddu. To make it simple, bhuja is puffed rice, which is very light in weight and is crunchy to eat. Also, it’s white in color. These laddus are easily available to buy in the market. But many people prefer making it in their homes because it’s fun and honestly, tastes better than the store-bought one.
As for Chaku, it is made by boiling molasses in a large pot. Then the mixture is poured out to cool down. Lastly, it’s cooked in chee and milk with added toppings such as dates, nuts, and coconut. Unlike the til laddu, people prefer to use a storebought Chaku because it’s easier and time-saving.
5. Furaula & Bara.
While Furaula and Bara are not must-have food for Maghe Sankranti, it is widely enjoyed. Anyway so, to make furaula soak black lentils in water. Then wash off the skin and grind it. After grinding it to a fine paste add the spices you need like salt, ginger paste, and so on. Now, head up some oil in a pan, make a ball shape of the batter. And cook it in the oil until each side turns golden brown.
Talking about bara, the process of making the battery for this dish is exactly the same. However, there’s one difference. When you try to fry these baras. You have to make a ball shape and spread it in your hands. Then make a small hole in the middle of the patty using your index finger.
Fry the bara turning sides time and again. And voila, it’s ready to be served. Bara and Furaula don’t need any kind of sauces to go with it as it tastes good on their own. But, you can have it with some coriander and tomato pickle.
Malpuwa is a sweet dish made from flour and sugar batter. It tastes absolutely delicious when served hot. Making malpuwa is very easy as well and sometimes very efficient.
Anyway, so to make malpuwa use wheat flour, sugar, and a pinch of black pepper with some water. If the mixture is thin, don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to be. If you want some toppings like coconut and other kinds of nuts you can add them to the batter.
Now, after the batter is done, heat some oil in a pan. Using a round spatula pour the mixture into the pan. Don’t make the malpuwa too big. Fry it until both sides turn golden brown and it’s ready to be served. It’s so delicious that you’ll keep on wanting more and more.
Ghee is a kind of clarified butter. What ever food you prepare, it will taste 10 times better if you use ghee instead of normal vegetable oil. Also it has numerous health benefits of vegetable oils.
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