Maghe Sankranti – Celebration of Winter and Food

Food is always a big part of our festivities and religious affairs. It holds true for probably all the cultures and religions around the world. Maghe Sankranti however is an special affair with food. Without much of rituals and ceremonies taking place, it is more about celebrating the transition of weather and season’s food offerings.

vendor chaku maghe sankranti nepalStreets vendors spring up in the streets selling items eaten in Maghe Sankranti

We follow a different calendar than the Gregorian calendar. Although with similar frame/format, the months are different and the start and end of the months do not match. Maghe Sankranti is observed on the first of Magh (which falls on 15th January) bringing an end to the gloomy days of winter or the month of Poush. It also marks the beginning of the auspicious and religious undertakings which were on hold during the past month. On this day the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey signifying the start of warmer days. It is similar to solstice festivals in other religions.

vendor maghe sankranti nepalStreet vendor selling sweet brittles,fudges and sweets

All the food associated to celebration of Maghe Sankranti are made with ingredients that are warming in nature. Sankranti delicacies signify celebration of winter fighting foods. The various communities in Nepal celebrate it in their own ritualistic way. However,Some of these foods are common to all communities.
The newar community have their own version of these items while for the Tharu community based in the central terai region, Sankranti holds a major value in their festive calendar. Maghi as Maghe Sankranti is called by the tharu community is their biggest festival. We will be talking about what food is associated with the newari community in the next post.

The essential food items of Maghe Sankranti are primarily made out of Sesame and Molasses. We list down some Maghe Sankranti essentials

Tarul ( Yam)

Yam called Tarul in Nepal is an absolute essential in Maghe Sankranti. Appearance of tarul vendors in the market 10-15 days before sankranti start bringing in the feel of Maghe Sankranti being around the corner. Tarul come in different varieties.

tarul vendor maghe sankranti nepalTarul vendors selling varieties of Tarul. The festive shopping aura of going out on the streets is exhilarating

tarul maghe sankranti nepal 1A variety of Tarul called Ghar Tarul which literally translates into ‘Home Yam’. This is the most commonly found tarul

tarul maghe sankranti nepal 2 tarul maghe sankranti nepalThis variety of tarul is called Hatthi Paila Tarul which literally translates into ‘Elephant’s Feet yam’

tarul maghe sankranti nepalThe variety of tarul called Ban Tarul which is the ‘Wild Yam’

Tarul is eaten boiled. The warm steamed flesh is eaten without any condiments or sides. We will put up how to cook tarul and set up your sankranti platter in the next post with all the recipes

Teel ko Laddu ( Sesame Seed Ball Sweet) 

Teel Laddu is a sweet snack peculiarly associated to Maghe Sankranti not often eaten other time of the year. Teel laddu come in two varieties : White and Black, using white and black sesame seeds respectively.

black teel laddu maghe sankranti nepal

Kalo Teel Laddu ( Black Sesame Sweet Balls) are often found packaged like these in the market for the convenience. Some households still insist and make this preparation at home. Black sesame seeds are mixed with liquified molasses and rolled into small balls.  

white teel laddu maghe sankranti nepalSeto Teel Laddu ( White Sesame sweet balls). White sesame seeds are mixed with liquified sugar to make these balls. 

Chaku ( Hardened Molasses block)

Chaku is a sweet made out of Hardened molasses cooked with gheu/ghee( clarified butter), milk and toppings such as dried coconuts, dates and peanuts. Like all other commercialization, chaku is readily available in the market in various shapes and sizes. Some people still make chaku at home with control over quality of ingredients which all market products often seem to miss

chaku maghe sankranti nepalChaku blocks being sold in packets at a vendor

Murai ko Laddu ( Crunchy Puffed Rice Balls)

Murai ko laddu is a sweet crunchy ball made by mixing hot molasses into puffed rice and rolled into balls. Roasted peanuts and dried coconuts are  added to Murai ko laddu sometimes.

puffed rice laddu maghe sankranti nepalMurai ko Laddu packages being sold at a vendor

These are the absolute essentials of Maghe Sankranti celebrations. We had a fun time shopping, photographing and putting together this list for you. Do share your experiences of your sankranti celebration in the comments below. Share your feedbacks too.

Happy Maghe Sankranti Folks! The Festivities officially being!

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