January 15th 2014 saw the celebration of Maaghe Sankranti Festival here in Nepal. The festival is primarily a Hindu festival but is celebrated across Nepal and wishes farewell to Winter and welcomes the warmer temperatures of Spring. Bring it on is what I say! True devotees take a dip in the nearest river before sunrise to cleanse their body and soul. I wish them well if they took a dip in the Punyamata River that flows through Banepa, it’s rather polluted and I question how much cleansing could be going on. Other customs are to visit respected elders and give and receive blessings. This is done by the eldest female in the household rubbing oil onto the crown of the head.
Lok’s wife was a busy lady as a result! And Lok also visited his aunt to receive a blessing from her too. The festival also includes feasting on various deep-fried and sweet foods (of course). It is said these foods warm up the body during these cold days.
A bit more info on the breakfast items: til ko laddu is made from boiled molasses, sugar and sesame seeds – really really sweet! I suspect the ghee is meant to cut the sugar content but to me, it was all too sweet and fatty for my tastes.
The little pancake was more of a batter patty with fennel seeds, very sweet but not as sickly sweet as the til ko laddu. I ate the patty! The sakhar-khand curry was made from sweet potatoes, an auspicious vegetable to have at this time of year. As it happens, it is also in season. A very large breakfast and I suspect we had our fill of fat to do us a week over! I went for a long walk afterwards … oh yeah we had the day off work!
Later in the day, I walked Leah and Christian (Danish volunteers) down to the fabric store. I probably need to negotiate a commission arrangement as they were the 5th people I had brought to the store since I went there two weeks ago. They give a discount though which is good. We were welcomed warmly and treated to deep fried tarul which is like a potato but they call it a yam. More deep fried foods! Leah wants some pants made but the tailor was closed so we will have to go today. And, I found out the tailor is a LADIES tailor which explained why she and her workers howled with laughter when I brought the three Austrians to her to get some pants made – two of them are guys. But graceful as ever, she measured and went about her business, and the guys are picking up their pants tomorrow. I guess us westerners are easily forgiven our faux pas.
On the way back from the fabric store, we popped into a Newari gathering in the celebration hall where we do our yoga every morning. It was just wrapping up but we still got to hear some singing and dancing, and official photo of the important people. We were served tea and biscuits as special guests. Had we known we were to be special guests, we would have been better dressed!
To round off the day, dinner was extra special. We had a chicken curry to mark the special day along with our Dhal Bhat which included rice, dhal, spinach greens, soy beans and tarul. We ate lots yesterday! But made up for it with yoga this morning as usual.