Festivals of Nepal

Nature At Its Best

Nepal & it's festivals

A multicultural nation. with over 60 ethnic groups, more than 50 festivals are celebrated in Nepal every year. Also known as the land of festivals, Nepal rejoices in both national and religious festivals equally  and are celebrated with the same enthusiasm and galore.

 

Major Festivals in Nepal

Dashain

Dashain is the 15 day long national religious festival of Nepal. It is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese people throughout the globe. It is not only the longest festival of the country but is also the one which is most anticipated. The festival falls around October-November, starting from the bright lunar fortnight and ending on the day of full moon. Amidst the 15 days the most important days are the 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th and the 10th. The fifteen days of celebration occur during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Dasain is also popularly referred to as Badadashain, Dashera, Vijaya Dashami etc.

Throughout the country the goddess mother is worshiped in all her manifestations. This festival is also known for its emphasis on the family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together. All government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed during prime days of the festival.

To truly enjoy and understand the Nepali culture, the festival time is most opportune one. Fishtail Tours & Travel therefore, brings you special festival tour program who want to understand the real culture & festival of Nepal.

This is the most pleasant season with mild temperature and usually clear and sunny days.

Tihar

This Hindu festival is also known as the "Festival of Lights." Candles, lanterns and colored tinsel are used to decorate homes over a three day period. The first day is the main festival of light where people welcome the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, into their homes for good fortune in the coming year. The following day is for self blessing wishing towards a healthy and happy for year. On the final day Sisters make offerings to their brothers.

Tihar is also known as Diwali in terai region of Nepal. It is one of the greatest celebrations in Nepal throughout the country. It is a five-day-long Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal which comes soon after Dashain.

In Nepal all hindu ethnic groups celebrate this festival with there own little variation . Among the Newars, it is known as Swanti. The festival is celebrated from Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna to Katrik Shukla Dwitiya every year. Tihar in general signifies the festival of lights, where diyas are lit both inside and outside the houses to make it illuminate at night. The five-day festival is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crow, cow and dog, who maintain an intense relationship with the humans. People make patterns on the floor of living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals outside of their house, called "Rangoli" which is meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities.

Chhath

Chhath is an ancient Hindu festival and only Vedic Festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya and Chhathi Maiya (ancient Vedic Goddess Usha). The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.

The Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath festival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.

The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun.

Fagu Purnima (Holi)

The ancient Hindu festival of Holi falls on late February or on early March. Named after the mythical demoness Holika, it is a day when the feast of colors is celebrated. Fagu is another name for Holi where Fagu means the sacred red powder and Purnima is the full moon day, on which the festival ends. People can be seen wandering through the streets either on foot or on some vehicle, with a variety of colors smeared over them.

Families and friends get together and celebrate the occasion with a lot of merry making. This springtime celebration is also an outburst of youthful exuberance in which throwing colors and water balloons (lolas) on passer- by is acceptable. But, the Indian community, that is, the Marwari class who have settled down in Nepal for centuries and the people of Terai celebrate it a day later with more pomp and ceremony.

The days prior to the last don't have a lot happening except, the installation of the ceremonial pole called "chir', on the first day. It's a bamboo pole, fringed with strips of cloth representing good luck charms. It is said to symbolize the tree on which lord Krishna hung the milkmaids' garments while they were bathing, unseen as they thought, in the Jamuna River of northern India. As the pole is put up in the street at Basantapur, the festivities and worship commences for the week.

Maha Shivaratri

The ancient Hindu festival of Holi falls on late February or on early March. Named after the mythical demoness Holika, it is a day when the feast of colors is celebrated. Fagu is another name for Holi where Fagu means the sacred red powder and Purnima is the full moon day, on which the festival ends. People can be seen wandering through the streets either on foot or on some vehicle, with a variety of colors smeared over them.

Families and friends get together and celebrate the occasion with a lot of merry making. This springtime celebration is also an outburst of youthful exuberance in which throwing colors and water balloons (lolas) on passer- by is acceptable. But, the Indian community, that is, the Marwari class who have settled down in Nepal for centuries and the people of Terai celebrate it a day later with more pomp and ceremony.

The days prior to the last don't have a lot happening except, the installation of the ceremonial pole called "chir', on the first day. It's a bamboo pole, fringed with strips of cloth representing good luck charms. It is said to symbolize the tree on which lord Krishna hung the milkmaids' garments while they were bathing, unseen as they thought, in the Jamuna River of northern India. As the pole is put up in the street at Basantapur, the festivities and worship commences for the week.

Buddha Jayanti

The festival is celebrated on the day of Lord Buddha, who was born in Lumbini. On the full moon day of Baisakh (approximately May), Buddha's birth, enlightenment and salvation are applauded both in and outside the Kathmandu Valley. Preparations are made for the festival at Swayambhunath and Bouddhanath Stupas in advance. Monks and devotees perform various activities like dance to celebrate the festival.

Bala Chaturdashi

Generally, the festival falls in the month of December. Families having lost their members or relatives stay vigil at the Lord Shiva temple during the whole night, lighting oil lamps and singling songs. In Kathmandu, people throng the Pashupatinath temple. Having a ritual morning bath, they walk through the forest, scattering seven types of grain along the paths and over the Linga (Phallic symbol) of Lord Shiva to give merit to their kinsmen. It is also believed that scattering seven types of grain on this day would also cleanse the sins of Bala, a mythological man, who had been transformed into a demon

Bibah Panchami

The festival is celebrated as the day of marriage of Ram, the hero of an epic Ramayana, and Sita, the daughter of King Janak. It is believed that King Janak had proposed a test of strength for the suitors of his daughter. The suitors had to string the great bow of Lord Shiva. Various warriors, kings and others had tried to lift the bow. But it was Ram who easily lifted the bow. When Ram tried to string the bow, it shattered into pieces. Then Ram and Sita were married in Janakpur.

Yomari Punhi

December is the harvest season. Farmers prepare Yomari Punhi and offer it to the gods for providing abundant harvest. Yomari is a kind of special cake made from the flour of new rice. The cake is steamed with melted sugar and it is offered to the gods.

Maghe Sakranti

The festival is celebrated on the first day of the month of Magh (approximately January). As the sun enters the southern hemisphere in the holy month of Magh, days start becoming longer and warmer. People take a bath early in the morning and go to the temples of Lord Vishnu and offer flowers incense and food to Him. On this day, the Bhagawat Gita (Holy book of Hindus) is also read to please the gods.

Saraswati Pooja (Basant Panchami)

The festival falls in the spring, the loveliest time of the year. Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, is worshipped at her temples in various parts of the country. In Kathmandu, People also throng the Nil Barahi shrine near Lazimpat. People from various walk of live, especially students and teachers, offer flowers, food items and other gifts to the Goddess Saraswati.

Lhosar

Various ethnic communities such as Sherpas, Tamangs and the people from the Tibetan origin celebrate the festival in February to welcome their New Year. Buddhist monks perform dances and offer prayers for good health and prosperity at monasteries. People exchange various goods and gifts among them. Buddhist families also host feasts and perform dances.

Chaitre Dashain

The festival is marked every year during March-April. The festival is celebrated to praise the victory of the hero of the epic Ramayana over Rawan, an evil King of Lanka (Sri Lanka). It is believed that the Goddess Durga's power had helped Ram to achieve his victory. So, the Goddess Durga, the source of power, is also worshipped on the occasion.

Ghode Jatra

The festival is celebrated in the month of April. Outsiders often get amazed to see the fine horses of the Nepalese Army. Horse race competitions and other activities are organized at Tundikhel (Open Air Theatre).

It is said that the horse festival or Ghode Jatra began after the people of Kathmandu were able to bury a demon under the soil of Tundikhel. They say that the demon may rise again and cause trouble to the world if he is not trampled on each year. On the occasion, President of Nepal, Prime Minister and all top political leaders, dignitaries, top-level officials, the living Goddess Kumari and many others observe the festival.

Janai Purnima

Generally, the festival falls in the month of August. Brahmins and Kshetris chant Gayatri mantra and change their sacred thread (Janai). In addition, both the Hindus and Buddhists tie a red or yellow thread around the wrist. It is believed that the thread can protect the people from evils. Devotees also visit Gosaikunda in Rasuwa district and Kumbheshwar temple in Patan.

Gai Jatra

This festival of cow is celebrated every year in August/September. This is one of the most popular festivals in Nepal (celebrated by Newar community) as it is full of humor, satire, comedy, mockery and shades of sadness too at the same time. And on this day satires and jokes on anybody is legal. As per the tradition, the family who has lost a relative during the past one year must take part in a procession by sending young boys in cow like attire and walk through the streets of Kathmandu. This festival also purges many who have lost their loved ones as they get to console themselves as to they are not the only ones who have been bereaved and it also teaches to accept death as a part of life.

Teej

Witness all Nepalese Hindu women in 'Red' dancing and singing in typical Teej special folk tunes, gathered in streets, temples, all in holy and fasting mood. The festival is traditionally dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, remembering her union with Lord Shiva. It is a three-day-long celebration that combines splendid feasts as well as rigid fasting. Teej also welcomes and celebrates arrival of monsoon after a season of summer heat.

Teej is a festival celebrated by Nepali women for the long life of her husband and long and firm relationship between them until the death of this life and all the lives to come. Teej is observed for marital happiness, wellbeing of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul. The folk tunes all over, red and green outfits, ornaments, dances and happy faces of women here brings in tourists from all over to witness the celebration in here.

Indra Jatra

Indra Jatra is one of the most joyful and happening festivals of Kathmandu. It is a week-long festival worshipping living goddess Kumari of Kathmandu valley and Indra, king of all the gods in heaven. A large wooden pole is erected to symbolize the beginning of the Indra Jatra. The chariot of Kumari is pulled out through the old skirts of traditional Kathmandu. The elephant dance, the demon Lakhe dance and the Akash Bhairav sky dance are regularly demonstrated open in public throughout the festival. In the evening, lamps are lit in the name of the King god Indra. The homemade rice beer is distributed in public by the God keepers on the three days of chariot pulling. Every night at the courtyard of the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, the group mask dance re - enacting the mother goddesses is performed in public. On the last day of the celebration, the tall wooden pole is pulled down to the ground and towed to the riverside to set in the fire hence marking the end of the festival.

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