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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Nepal Celebrates Maghe Sankranti to Bid Farewell to Winter

KATHMANDU – Thousands of people in Nepal celebrated on Thursday the end of winter solstice with Maghe Sankranti, among the most popular Hindu festivals in Nepal, despite the severe COVID-19 crisis in the country.

The festival, also known as Maghi or Makar Sankranti, is held every year on Jan. 14 to mark the ascent of the Sun into the northern hemisphere, and its transit through Capricorn, or Makar.

“Today (Maghe Sankranti) is considered a holy day to bathe in sacred rivers and lakes to offer thanks to the Sun and wash away sins,” Dipendra Adhikari, a Hindu priest in Bhaktapur – located 16 kilometers east of Kathmandu –, told EFE.

As part of the festivities, thousands of devotees took bath in sacred water bodies, such as ponds and rivers, and prayed in temples, and shared traditional sweets made of sesame and brown sugar among family and friends.

According to tradition, consuming products such as “ghee,” a traditional form of clarified butter; sesame seed sweets, vegetables, and yam, after taking a sacred bath, helps foster good health.

With more than 244,000 confirmed cases and nearly 2,000 deaths sue to the novel coronavirus, Nepal suspended all international travel for most of last year resulting in its tourism activity, one of its largest sources of income, coming to a halt.

Although the authorities at Devghat, one of the country’s main pilgrimage sites, did not organize the usual celebrations during this festival due to the pandemic, the country’s important rivers and other localities witnessed thousands of devotees coming to take part in the celebrations.

This year the number of devotees in Devghat fell by 40%, after more than 200,000 Hindus gathered at the site last year, Kiran Poudel, an official of the region’s Development Committee, told EFE.

Meanwhile, President Bidya Devi Bhandari extended her best wishes to all the Nepalese citizens at home and abroad on the occasion of the Maghe Sankranti.

“I hope that this festival will help to preserve and promote the original cultural traditions and to further strengthen the broader national unity by enhancing mutual unity, friendship, cooperation and harmony among Nepalis of different geographical regions, castes, languages and cultures,” Bhandari said in a message to the people.

 

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