Festival that harbingers hope
The festival of Maghe Sankranti was observed throughout the country on January 15. The festival harbingered the warmth of the summer, leaving behind the chilling cold spells of winter. It is celebrated on the first day of Magh every year, to mark the auspicious occasion when the sun enters the zodiac sign Capricorn (Makar). The sun then starts on its northward journey in its heavenly course on this day, thus announcing the commencement of the Uttarayan.
Devotees thronged at the confluence of the holy rivers since early morning to beckon the spring season, and with it, new hopes and optimism. Like any other holy celebration Maghi Sankranti also has a legend of its own. It’s also the day commemorating the death of Viswapitamaha, the elderly grandfather of two families of Pandavas and Kauravas, between whom the famous battle of Mahabharat took place. He was determined not to die until the way to the region of gods opened. While lying on the bed of arrows he discovered words of wisdom on life and death. Eventually, through his free will he succumbed to death. Hence it’s believed that those who die on this day go to heaven, released from the burden of rebirth.
There is also a general belief that taking a bath in the holy rivers on this day eliminates all kinds of diseases and brings in health and fortune.
On this day, devotees visit temples and worship Lord Vishnu and offer flowers and sweets. Some people perform religious rituals, read Bhagwad Gita, the holy scripture of the Hindus and priests are invited for the special occasion.
In addition to holy bathing and worship of shrines, certain auspicious foods like till laddoos (seasame seeds ball cakes), chaku (molasys), ghee (clarified butter), sweet potatoes, khichari (mixture of rice and lentils) and green leaf spinach are taken on this day. Families come together and share these delights. Married daughters and families are invited to parental homes for festivities and blessings. Yet another occasion to renew family ties.