Maghe Sankranti Festival in Nepal
Maghe Sankranti is the first day of the tenth month of Nepali solar calendar on which people prepare and eat ghee chaku along with varieties of food items.
Sankranti means transmigration of the Sun from one constellation of the zodiac to another constellation in the solar calendar. All together, there are 12 constellations which translate to 'rashi' in Vedic calendar. In Maghe Sankranti the Sun turns from Dhanu (Sagittarius) Rashi to Makara (Capricorn) Rashi.
Nepalese people celebrate Maghe Sankranti or Makar Sankranti on the first day of the tenth month of the Solar calendar. Maghi is another name for this festival. Different communities of Nepal celebrate this day differently. The Tharu community of Nepal celebrate this day as their New Year.
Ghee - Chaku is the famous food item for this day. People prepare the food items with sakhar on the previous night. i.e on the last day of Poush. So in Nepali, there is the famous saying "Poush ma pakya, Magh ma khyaka''. People also made different sakhar items too. Along with it they also eat Yam Tumblr (tarul), and sweet potato (Sakhar Khanda).
Newa community worship Ajima Mata and Rato Machendranath. They celebrate Ghya: Chaku Sanlahu, along with family members and their relatives. Also, Magars celebrate this auspicious day by inviting married daughters and worshiping them.
Special events on this day
Every year on Maghe Sankranti, Taruka village of Nuwakot organizes a Bullfight. Different communities organize numerous fairs on the bank of Kali Gandaki and Trishuli rivers at Devghat. People from India visit Devghat and the Kankai river to take holy baths during Maghe Sankranti. Kankai River in Jhapa is also a very famous destination for holy baths. In different cities, people visit nearby rivers and take a Makar bath.
New Year of Tharu Community
Tharu villages traditionally make preparations for the entire year during Maghi. Each family member is responsible for his or her own tasks. Furthermore, if any family member commits a mistake while carrying out tasks, the elders and leaders address and settle it during this celebration. Tharu people bathe and massage their bodies with mustard oil on the same day, according to an ancient belief. They also buy livestock like pigs, boars, ducks, and hens, as well as home-made booze, to commemorate Maghi. Similarly, Tharus celebrates their new year in Maghi by putting on a variety of traditional cultural acts.
Mythology of Maghe Sankranti
According to Hindu mythology, Bhishma Pitamah, a major character in the Mahabharata who was the son of goddess Ganga and king Santanu, abandoned his body after refusing King Shantanu's blessing to manage his death. So, on this day, Bhishma Pitamah got the words of wisdom of life and death from Lord Krishna and attained Nirvana while lying in the bed of arrows all hit by Arjun. People who die on this day are said to travel to heaven and be free of the sufferings of life, death, and reincarnation.
According to another local tradition, a merchant from Bhaktapur never ran out of sesame and began making a fortune from it. After seeing that he never runs out of sesame, the merchant inspected his stockpile and discovered Lord Vishnu's Idol beneath the seeds, which is now revered as Til Madhav Narayan. It is still widely believed that worshiping Til Madhav Narayan's idol at Nyatapola will bring food, prosperity, and fortune to Bhaktapur.