Maghe Sangrati festival in Nepal
Maghe Sangrati, also known as Makar Sangranti is celebrated on the first day of the holy month of Magh (mid January). This day is said to be the most important for the holy bath in the convergence of the sacred rivers and streams. Usually bank of Bagmati River in the Sankhamul area below Patan is considered the most sacred site for performing this ritual. However, due to the increasing water pollution, this ritual has lost its glory.
On this day, people pay homage to various deities, especially Rato Macchindranath and Agima Ta. Apart from bathing and worship of the holy shrines, people also prepare some auspicious foods like til laddoos (sesame seeds ball cakes), beaten rice laddoos, chaku (molasses), sweet potatoes and Khichari (mixture of rice and lentils). They wake up early in the morning and take bath. Then they lit a sacred fire and offer the holy seeds, til and jau (sesame and barley seeds). After the ritual is performed, the prepared delicacies are shared with the family members and the neighbors. The sweet potatoes and tarul (yam) are boiled the previous night as per the custom. Some families also perform pujas at their homes on this day.
According to the legend, once a merchant from the town of Bhadgoan (now Bhaktapur) noticed that his sesame seeds supply hadn’t diminished despite of his thriving business. When he went to investigate the matter, he found an idol of Lord Vishnu hidden deep beneath the seeds. Since that day, the Til Mahadev idol is worshipped with a belief that god will be generous and continue the supply of the food and wealth on the Bhadgoan community. It is also the day to honor the death of Vishmapitamaha, grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas, two families who fought the epic battle of Mahabharat. It is said that he succumbed to death on his free will on this day. Hence, it is said that whoever dies on this day go to heaven and are released from the trouble of rebirth.