Makar Sankranti is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that has been observed according to the solar cycle. It is dedicated to deity Surya (sun). Celebrated each year in January. It marks the first day of the sun transit into the Makara (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. The festival is celebrated differently across various communities with colorful decoration, rural children going house to house, singing, melas (fairs), kite flying, etc. This festival marks the start of harvest in Maharashtra. Makar Sankranti is of particular significance for the newborn in the family. A special ceremony is organized for kids between the age group of one to five years called Bor (berries) Nahan (bath) meaning bath in berries. Bor nahan is a fun-filled Maharashtrian tradition performed to nurture the child’s immune system.
Reason behind Bor Nahan
- It is believed that performing Bor nahan keeps evil away from kids.
- This tradition is done so that the child gets good health.
- Scientifically speaking, as the season changes there are likely chances of the kids falling sick. So, to protect the kids from the changing season Bor nahan is done. In Bor nahan, seasonal fruits obtained in summer-like berries (बोर), sugarcane pieces (ऊस), groundnuts (भुईमुगाच्या शेंगा) are showered over the child. In normal circumstances, kids don’t eat these fruits. But during this fun game if kids are asked to pick these fruits and eat them they willingly do it. In short Bor nahan is done to prepare the child’s body for next season by nurturing the kid’s immune system.
Item required for Bor Nahan
- Black attire: The child is dressed in black attire for this ritual. A black frock or gown for the girl child and a black kurta for boy child is required.
- Halvyache dagine (हलव्याचे दागिने): Halvyache dagine basically means jewelry made out of sugar candies made from roasted sesame seeds combined with sabudana and sugar powder. One can easily find this jewelry online. Many moms also prefer making this jewelry at home. In Mumbai, the jewelry is readily available in Dadar market at a reasonable price range specifically during Sankranti.
- Aukshan plate: Aukshan is a ritual of waving lit lamp in front of the individual. For aukshan a dish is required consisting of turmeric powder and vermilion placed at the left, gold ring and beetle nut is placed on the right, unbroken rice grains are kept in the center and a lit lamp is placed just in front yet closer to the unbroken rice grains.
- A plate full of fruits like berries (bor), sugarcane pieces (uus), groundnuts (buhimugacha senga) and murmure (puffed rice). However, nowadays instead of showering the child with fruits like berries, sugarcane pieces and groundnut parents prefer chocolates and other goodies that attract kids for the fun activity.
The ritual of Bor Nahan
Much preparation is not needed to perform Bor nahan. Close relatives and friends are invited to Bor nahan. Also, small kids are invited. The child is dressed up in black attire. Along with the black attrite, the child is dolled up in traditional halvyache dagine. The child is then made to sit on a path (a rectangular wooden stool arrangement). Women do aukshan of the child. After aukshan, the child is made to sit in the center and other kids are asked to sit in circle around the child. Berries, sugarcane pieces, groundnuts and murmure are shower over the child and other children are asked to pick up the fallen items. Kids can eat these items or carry with them to their home.
Traditionally, women use to do haldi kumkum (a social gathering where married women exchange haldi (turmeric) and kumkum (vermilion powder) on this day and distribute tilgul (a colorful sesame candy-coated with sesame seeds) saying “tilgul ghya, goad goad bola” meaning “Take Tilgul and talk sweetly”. However with changing time the ritual of haldi kumkum may not be performed on the same day. Also nowadays, instead of showing the child with fruits like berries, sugarcane pieces and groundnut parents prefer chocolates and other goodies which attracts kids.
When we did Bor nahan for the first time, my daughter was just two years old was not ready to wear the traditional halvyache dagine. So making her wear the jewelry was a big task for me. Secondly, she became hostile when fruits were shower on her and when other kids started collecting the fallen fruits near her. However, the next year when she turned three and we did Bor nahan again, she enjoyed the ceremony with other kids.
- If the child is too small, it is advised to be careful and patient while you make the kiddo to wear the halvyache jewelry. Also, be careful when the child wears jewelry since there are chances of choking.
- If the child is too small to sit on path (rectangular wooden stool) you can also make the child sit on the lap of an elderly person and make him/her comfortable with the people while performing Bor nahan.
- Also, make the child comfortable in this attire before you begin with the ceremony of showing the fruits like berries (bor), sugarcane pieces (uus), groundnuts (buhimugacha senga) on the child.
Bor nahan is a fun filled Maharashtrian ritual performed during the time of Makar Sankranti on children up to five years. Scientifically, this fun filled ritual of Bor nahan helps to keep the children healthy by nurturing there immune system with seasonal fruits like berries, sugarcane pieces, groundnut etc. Bor nahan can also be viewed as a form of social gathering for close friends and family.
So, when are you going to perform Bor nahan for your kido? Let me know your experience about Bor nahan in the comment section below. Happy Makar Sankranti.
Tilgul ghya, god god bola