Speech of Hon’ble Governor of Sikkim Shri Shriniwas Patil on the occasion of Maghey Mela held at Jorethang, South Sikkim on 15th January, 2014.
Hon’ble Area MLA, Shri Madan Cintury, Members of the Jorethang Maghey Mela Celebration Committee, Officials of the State Government, Distinguished Guests, and dear friends.
It gives me immense pleasure to be a part of this Jorethang Maghey Mela, 2104. I am informed that this celebration in Jorethang in South Sikkim is the biggest of its kind in the region, which indeed is a matter of pride for the State.
As every one of is aware, Makar Sankranti holds great meaning and symbolism to people of the whole of India. It is one of the festivals that unites people of all regions. It is celebrated in wide indigenous ways with unique names and flavour.
Sankranti is a Sanskrit word which refers to the transition of the Sun from one Rashi to the other. Makar Sankranti in turn refers to the transition of Sun from Dhanu Rashi (Sagittarius) to Makara Rashi (Capricon). According to our Indian Lunar Calendar, this day also marks the movement of the Sun from the Tropic of Capricorn towards the northern hemisphere, or in other words from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana. In terms of the Nepali Calendar, Makara Sankranti marks the beginning of the holy month of Magha, therefore, it is also known as Maghey Sankranti. It is believed that this transition brings an end to the inauspicious month of Poush and it is an occasion for celebration. It also signifies the beginning of the harvest season.
People in the Northern parts of India celebrate this festival by taking a holy dip in the river Ganges and by praying to Surya the Sun God. In Maharastra too, where I come from, people celebrate this festival by preparing Laddoo made up of Sesame seeds alias Til and Jaggery. People also wish each other by saying “Tilgul ghya gor gor bola” , which means one should eat the Laddoo made up of til and jaggery, and utter sweet words.
I am informed that in Sikkim, Makara or Maghey Sankranti has a strong religious and local flavour and all communities participate in its celebration. Many take a holy dip in our rivers and streams and pray for a better year filled with peace and prosperity. After the holy dip, devotees put on a tika made up of Ban Tarul, a wild tuber on their foreheads. It is really interesting to note that on the occasion, people make offerings to the Gods and deities and consume a wide variety of boiled home grown Kandamuls such as Sweet potato or Sakarkhanda and other tubers. They also join in the community festivities in various melas held all over the State known as Maghe Melas.
Such Melas or fun fares, I am told, can be seen at Jorethang, Rorathang, Singtam, and Ranipool and in various parts of Sikkim. Besides major attractions, such as swings, circuses, adventure sports etc, the melas also offer an insight into our tradition and culture with ethnic dance performances and songs as well as, selling of local cuisines and traditional arts and crafts. They are a major tourist attraction.
On a side note, I am informed that juwari, a traditional vocal performance, which were popular in these melas in earlier times has now died out. However, I am sure that the organizers of this Mela will make efforts to revive this interesting musical tradition.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the Organising Committee of Jorethang Maghey Mela, 2014, the biggest Mela in the State, for their serious efforts and wish them great success. I am confident that the organization of such melas will not only provide an opportunity for commerce to our local communities but also help to preserve our traditions and culture for posterity.