Maghe Sankranti: Sikkimese Festival of Joy and Happiness

A scene of Maghey Mela at Ranipool 
Maghe Sankranti is the commencement of the holy month of Maugh, which usually falls in the mid of January. It brings an end to the inauspicious month of Poush (mid-december) when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. On this day, the sun leaves its southernmost position and takes off for its northward journey, so Maghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in many other traditions. While, the day of Sankranti is considered as the coldest day of the year, it blots the upcoming warmer weather. Though, it is rejoiced by the Hindu Nepalese in Sikkim, the festival is greatly observed by all the ethnic communities. This day is said to be the propitious day for holy bathing in spite of the chilled weather conditions. This ritual usually takes place at the union of sacred rivers and streams known as Triveni. Sikkimese people usually visit Triveni of Teesta and Rangit, the two holy rivers of the state near Melli to take holy bath and to pray for a better year filled with peace and prosperity. After a holy dip on the river, the devotees put Tika of Ban Tarul (Dioscorea Hamiltonii) on their foreheads.
In addition to holy bathing and worship of shrines, certain auspicious foods like till laddoos (seasame seeds ball cakes), chaku(molasys), gheu (clarified butter), sweet potatoes, khichari (mixture of rice and lentils) and Simal Tarul (Tapioca) are taken on this day. Edibles like sweet potatoes, ban tarul and tapioca are regarded as Kandamuls (things that are grown under soil) by the Nepalese of Sikkim and other Indian States. The day is also regarded as the New Years Day among the Limboo community of Sikkim.
Rotey Ping; The major attraction of Maghey Mela at Ranipool 
Historical Importance of Maghe Sankranti in Sikkim:
The study of Sawai and Khado (the writings of some contemporary writers) and the History of the Gorkhas reveals the fact that in 1788-89, the Gorkha General Jahar Singh crossed the Chiabhanjyang pass, taking the Sikkimese forces by complete surprise and made a lightening raid on Rhabdentse. The capital was caught napping and the most disorganized abandonment of any capital imaginable took place. The Gorkhas under Purna Alley captured Southern Sikkim through Elam. Another Gorkha force, more numerous and powerful than the former ones under Damodar Pandey, subsequently re-inforced the Gorkhas, they spread themselves all over the country, prying into every crick and corner of Sikkim, they sent out parties to pry and prowl about all the valleys of the river Teesta and its tributaries. A fierce battle took place between the Sikkimese forces and the Gorkhas that ultimately led to the victory of the latter. Hence, after ensuring their sway over the Western and Southern parts of Sikkim, the victorious Gorkha soldiers celebrated their triumph at the confluences of River Teesta and Rangit. They washed their blood stained Khukris on the river and had taken a rinse in the river, they sang, danced and took all wild foods like ban tarul, sweet potatoes etc. on the day of Maghe Sankranti. Therefore, it is said that to commemorate their victories over Sikkim and other Himalayan States of Kangra, Kumaun, Garwhal and so on the Indian Gorkhas celebrate the day of Maghe Sankranti every year. But, the Nepalese version of the celebration is silent about the victories made by the Gorkha forces in the Indian States. Hence, it is not clear to ascertain that it is celebrated by the Indian Gorkhas to commemorate their victories over the Himalayan Sates including Sikkim.
People busy in buying materials during feast
One can witness people enjoying swings, dance and many other games like dice, ghurni etc at the feast organized by various organizations throughout Sikkim. These feasts are locally known as Maghe Mela. Every rural Sikkimese is an aficionado of such Maghe Mela to visit and to have fun. The important of such feasts can be seen at Jorethang, Saramsa, Rorathang, Singtam and even at Triveni at the Bengal side. Apart from the historical controversies, Maghe Sankranti has now become a festival of unity and brotherhood in the state of Sikkim. People of diverse ethnicity can be seen enjoying swings and Tambola in the various feasts throughout the State.