Maghe Sankranti Date in the current year: January 14, 2024

Maghe Sankranti Maghe Sankranti is a Nepalese harvest and winter solstice festival. It is observed on the first day of the month of Magh in the Vikram Samvat, a historical calendar used in India and Nepal. In the Gregorian calendar, it almost always falls on January 14. Maghe Sankranti marks the winter solstice and the Sun’s move into the sign of Capricorn.

Although the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs between December 21 and 22, solstice festivals in the Indian subcontinent are typically observed in mid-January. The thing is, the date of winter solstice changes gradually due to a slow change in the orientation of the Earth’s rotational axis (axial precession), coming earlier by about 1 day in every 70 years. So at some point of time winter solstice did occur in mid-January, which is reflected in some traditional Hindu calendars.

Holidays similar to Maghe Sankranti are observed throughout the Indian subcontinent. For example, in Sri Lanka, there is a four-day harvest festival named Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. In some parts of India, this day is known as Makar (Makara) Sankranti. One of the main attributes of the Maghe Sankranti festival is taking ritual baths in auspicious rivers, such as the Bagmati River, the Gandaki (Narayani) River, and the Koshi River.

On the occasion of the festival, people eat festive foods such as laddu (sphere-shaped sweets made of flour, sugar and clarified butter), ghee and sweet potatoes. Before the feast, the mother of the household wishes good health to all family members. Besides, in different parts of Nepal, there are regional Maghe Sankranti traditions and rituals. The solstice festival is an official non-working holiday in Nepal.

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Maghe Sankranti, harvest festival, winter solstice festival, religious festival, holidays in Nepal