Maaghe Sankranti Festival

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.  

Magghe Sankranti breakfast (from left clockwise):  hard boiled egg, til ko laddu with ghee, deep fried roti, pancake with fennel seeds and sakhar-khand  curry.

Magghe Sankranti breakfast (from left clockwise): hard boiled egg, til ko laddu with ghee, deep fried roti, pancake with fennel seeds and sakhar-khand curry.

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.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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6 Responses to Maaghe Sankranti Festival

  1. Nepta and Joe says:

    Hi kate.I thought that Ireland had a lot of holidays! Sounds like some very nice traditions in Nepal.Just finished the book you gave me at Christmas about the hockey goalie/CBC presenter.Very enjoyable read.Could see a lot of Pierre in the book.He really enjoyed the hockey eventhough he wasnt a great goalie. Talk later, Joe.

  2. Grace Coffey says:

    Wow – chicken twice in one week – t.g. for holidays! gx

  3. Oh how I wish I could be there with you. We celebrate maaghe sankranti in our house to this day:) It’s interesting to see the parallels between maaghe, thanksgiving, the harvest and the new year. I love how everything comes from farming essentially! Miss you Kate xoxo

  4. Pingback: A day of celebrations today in Nepal | Bowen to Bangladesh

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