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Festivals in Nepal

Can you think of any country that has more than 365 days of festivals? Yes, you heard correctly. In Nepal, there are hundreds of festivals. There are as many festivals in Nepal as there are days in a year. Being one of the most varied nations in the world, Nepal and Nepalese participate in festivals and festivities virtually every day.

Many of you may have envisioned Nepal because of its spectacular mountains, stunning slopes, serpentine roads, magnificent green meadows, and amazing valleys. That is barely half of this breathtaking splendor. One of the best things about Nepal is the fact that you get to see one of the world's oldest civilizations in action. Festivals are an essential aspect of one's living culture and custom in order to inject newness into the monotony of planned existence.

Nepal is known as a trekking paradise, but it is also a terrific festival destination. No matter when you visit Nepal, you will undoubtedly encounter at least one of the country's amusing festivals. Although not all festivals are observed as holidays, ardent Nepalis place a high value on them.

Celebrations range from epic masked dances to big national tugs of war, which are a visual feast. Attending festivals featuring stunning chariot parades, such as Chaitra Dashain, Bisket Jatra, Indra Jatra, Rato Machhendranath, and others, will let you witness the vintage celebrations of the Middle Ages. Hundreds of devoted followers pull the 20-meter-high chariots through the crowded streets of Kathmandu and Patan.

Most festivals commemorate a god by gathering around a shrine to worship. Great processions march through the streets of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan, as well as other cities in Nepal. Bands of Newar musicians and masked dancers accompany these processions. Festivals play a vital role in Nepali culture. It is the essence of our daily lives.

 

Dashain

Dashain is without a doubt the most revered holiday of the ethnic-religious coalition. If the energy, liveliness, and pleasant weather embrace the comforting sunshine with yellow mustard and golden rice swinging in the fields while the sky is azure-filled with multicolored kites, then it must be Dashain season. People celebrate the victory of good over evil. It is a  time for family reunions, receiving Tika (rice on the forehead) and Jamara (yellowish holy grass) from elders, and exchanging presents. Similarly, the residents tidy and adorn their houses beautifully.

Dashain is celebrated in Nepal around September or October, which is also considered the greatest period for trekking in Nepal. It is a fifteen-day celebration honoring pure feminine energy, during which Hindus worship 10 various incarnations of Goddess Durga.

Dashain's key celebration days are Ghatasthapana (the first day), Saptami (the seventh day), Maha Ashtami (the eighth day), Nawami (the ninth day), Vijaya Dashami (the tenth day), and Kojagrat Purnima (the fifteenth day). If you want to witness people wearing tidy and colorful clothing, swinging on swings, and reverently worshiping insignificant pilgrimages and shrines, you should visit Nepal during Dashain, or the Autumn season. Dashain is a favorite period for treks and climbs in Nepal since the weather is clear and cold.

 

Tihar / Deepawali / Yama Panchak 

This is a celebration of lights, elegant sweets, and delicious fruits. Communities celebrate with love for various animals. Dogs are adored and given treats, while leaf bowls of rice, incense, and light are laid out for the dark messengers of Death, Crows. Laxmi, the goddess of riches, is worshiped throughout this festival. With the fervent hope that Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, will bestow her blessings, rows of lights are set on windows and doorways.The next day belongs to the cow, who represents Laxmi. On Bhai tika, sisters and brothers gather and accept tika from each other. This is known as Brothers Day. On this day, brother and sister commemorate each other, and the sister prays to Yama, the deity of death, for their brother's advancement, prosperity, and longevity.

Local Kathmandu valley residents conduct Mha Puja as part of New Year celebrations on the fifth day, which means worshiping oneself to energize and cleanse the soul in Newari tradition.

 

Buddha Jayanti / Buddha's Birthday

The Buddha's birthday falls in the Nepali month of Jeth. On this day, Buddhists from all over the world flock to Nepal to see Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. People also celebrate spectacularly in Monkey Temple, Boudhanath, and Patan.Priceless Thangkas will be displayed on the courtyard's southern wall at Swayambhunath. You have a fantastic opportunity to see monks dance in celebration of the Buddha's birth.

 

Janai Purnima(Rakshya Bandhan)

Janai Purima is the day when Hindus replace the janai, the holy thread that males wear around their necks. Brahmins (Hindu priests) flock to the sacred riverbanks on this full moon day. They take ritual baths and give ablution to the gods. They then change their sacred threads and tie yellow sacred threads around the faithful's wrists. Gunhu punhi, a soup of several sprouting beans known as kwati, is cooked as the special cuisine of the day by the Newars of the Kathmandu valley.

Richly painted lingam, the phallic emblem of Lord Shiva, is put on an elevated platform in the center of the kumbherswar (knowanti) pond to accept tribute from worshippers during Patan's Kumbeshwar festival. Another tradition held here is Byan–ja nakegu, in which rice is given to frogs in thanks for a good rain. A jujuya ghinatanghishi (kings carnival) walks through Bhaktapur as a prelude to “Saparu“ the next day. Participants dress up in outrageous costumes and dance to traditional music.

 

Maghe sankranti

The sun reaches the southern hemisphere during the holy month of Magh, and the days begin to get longer and warmer. Lord Vishnu, the preserver, is honored for his services. On Maghe Sankranti, people take an early morning bath in a sacred river, visit Vishnu shrines, and offer flowers, incense, and food to him. They read the Bhagavad, commonly known as the Song of the Gods, apply mustard oil to their bodies, and feast on rice cooked with lentils, yams, or tarul-a must-and sweets made of sesame and sugarcane paste.

On this day, people from all across the country flock to Devghat, a confluence of three rivers, to take holy baths in the river.

 

Holi Festival

If any of your friends have ever visited Nepal during the Holi celebration, he would certainly have this magnificent brilliant smile to mirror what he experienced when you use the term "Holi." Holi is a celebration of colors, a spray of water that paints the entire country. It is one of Nepal's most popular festivals.

Nepalese people celebrate Holi on the full moon between February and March in the solar calendar, and it lasts two days, one in the Hilly area and another in the Terai. Both locals and visitors are participate in this big festival. People are seen playing in their homes, lawns, and notably in the Durbar Squares (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan), sprinkling various powders and liquids, dancing, and singing. 

 

Bisket Jatra

Bisket Jatra is a week-long yearly celebration celebrated in Dhapasi, Thimi, Bhaktapur, Tokha, and other locations around Nepal. It lasts nine days and is celebrated on April 14th, with the main attraction being the drawing of chariots that are being made. In the Jatra, the two chariots symbolize two deities: goddess Bhadrakali and the furious deity Bhairav. However, the time fluctuates due to variations in astronomical locations and the lunar calendar. Bisket Jatra is also known as the "Serpent's Death Festival." The residents donate food and prayers in the hope of avoiding future difficulties and calamities. People in Thimi also pierce their tongues for religious reasons, calling it a "tongue piercing festival."


New Year 

In Nepal, it is known as "Navavarsha." Nepal's official calendar starts on the first day of the first month, Baisakh. Nepali New Year is celebrated on this first day, which normally falls in the second week of April. Because this day is also a national holiday, people go on picnics, hold get-togethers, and enjoy the day socializing in various ways.

 

Lhosar

The Losar Festival meaning New Years according to the various tibeto-nepalese calendars occurs during the months of December, February, and March. Tamu Lhosar, Soman Lhosar, and Galpo Lhosar are the three varieties of Lhosar. As part of the festivities, members of the Buddhist community gather for prayer at monasteries and stupas that have been elaborately adorned for the Lhosar ceremonies. People paint their homes in bright colors, and family and friends share pleasantries. 

 

Gai  Jatra (Cow Festival)

This cow festival is held every year in August/September. This is one of Nepal's most popular events because it combines humor, satire, comedy, ridicule, and shades of melancholy. And satires and jokes about anyone are permissible on this day. According to custom, families who have lost a relative in the previous year must participate in a parade by sending young children dressed in cow-like costumes to walk through the streets of Kathmandu led by a cow. The cow is revered as a Goddess and is also Nepal's national animal. This celebration also acts as a solace for  those who have lost loved ones by allowing them to soothe themselves through knowledge that they are not alone in their grief, and it teaches them to embrace death as a natural part of life.

 

Naga Panchami

The entire country will celebrate Nag Panchamu on the fifth day following the new moon in Nepali Saun month. The Naga is said to have mysteriously gained control of the monsoon rains. During this celebration, people would hang Naga images on their doors for good luck and tranquility, and they will prepare food for the snakes, including a dish of rice. Nagas are also seen as a symbol for protection and are thus propitiated. 

Krishna Janmastami: 

The birth anniversary of Lord Sri Krishna, believed to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu falls sometime in August/September. All the devotees assemble in Krishna Mandir, the ancient Krishna Temple in Patan Durbar Square, and other temples with the idol of Sri Krishna and offer prayers, flowers, food, sweets, and chant hymns too.

Teej

Teej Festival is a Hindu celebration for Nepalese women. It takes place in the months of August/September. Dancing, chanting traditional music, and red dresses worn by the ladies is what distinguishes Teej from other celebrations in Nepal. The day commemorates the glorious event when Parvati, the Himalayan daughter, earned Lord Shiva's hand after intense meditation and fasting. Teej begins with her mother sending gifts, food, and sarees to their daughters' homes, and groups of ladies assemble to feast. Similarly, every woman prays to Shiva to provide her husband a happy and fruitful long life.

Similarly, these are the popular Nepalese festivals that are observed in Nepalese society. During the festival season, Nepalese people enjoy spending time with their complete family members and relatives while having a lot of fun and pleasure.

 

Maha Shivaratri

All year, pilgrims, sadhus, devotees, and mendicants go to Pashupatinath, but on this day, the number of visitors to the temple is in the tens of thousands, many of them are from India or the Terai, and who begin coming a few days earlier, some camping out in the neighborhood of the temple. Shiva's sacred day begins at midnight, but devotees do not begin celebrations in until after they have passed a large number of sadhus, mendicants of various types. Devotees performing roadside penances (standing with a small trident thrust through the tongue, being buried up to the neck, and so on) are seen throughout the area. 

Even if it grows chilly in the evening, there are generally multiple fires and vibrant scenes going on until midnight, when the sacred period elapses. Devotees in Bhaktapur worship Shiva by visiting the Dattatreya Temple in Tachapal, while residents throughout the valley celebrate with bonfires and vigils.

 

Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Puja, also known as Shree Panchami, is a day set aside to commemorate the birth of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. This is a day when everyone from students to academics worship their pens and books in order to appease the Goddess and gain her favor in their studies, allowing them to become wise and learned. People also gather around the idol of Goddess Saraswati, particularly at Swayambhunath, to offer flowers, candies, fruits, and so forth. On this day, tiny children are taught to read and write, and people use chalk and pencils to write on the stones and slabs.This day, which comes between January and February, is also considered particularly auspicious for marriages since Goddess Saraswati is said to bless the newlyweds. 

 

Indra Jatra

In August/September, both Buddhists and Hindus in Nepal celebrate this festival named for Lord Indra, the God of Rain and King of Heaven. This event lasts eight days and is filled with singing, mask dancing, and joy. The chariot of Kumari — the Living Goddess – is paraded through Kathmandu's principal streets with great pomp. T During this event, the streets of Kathmandu are overrun with eager individuals ranging from performers to onlookers. People may watch elephant dances and lakhe, a popular dance performed by a guy wearing a mask.

 

Mani Rimdu  Festival

The Mani Rimdu celebration, which lasts nine days, is the most important event for the Sherpa people in the Everest area. The etymological meaning of Mani is a chanting component of Chenrezig, while Rimdu represents an auspicious red remedy. The celebration takes place during the 10th lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, which falls between October and November in English. Because October and November are the greatest hiking months in the Everest region, hundreds of trekkers from all over the world visit this location. During the Mani Rimdu festival, people rejoice and meditate.

Similarly, the Tengbuche Monastery in the Everest area, which is the major path of the Everest Base Camp Trekking or the last destination of the Everest Panorama Trekking, celebrates the Mani Rimdu festival. Buddhist monks and Sherpa people create a sand mandala diagram with sand gathered from a specific hill. After the Mandala has been colored in four days, the spectacular ceremonies will take another ten days. People dance and enjoy the festival, and monks put on exhibitions to ward off bad powers in the world. The event concludes with an unique blessing ritual performed by Tengboche Rinpoche, followed by masked dances by monks.The celebration concludes with the defeat of evil powers and the restoration of peace and prosperity.

The Mani Rimdu festival has boosted the number of trekkers and climbers in the Everest area. This monastery is popular with hikers from the Gokyo Valley. Trekking tours to the Mani Rimdu festival are also planned on specific occasions. What a wonderful blend of Sherpa cultural riches, Mani Rimdu celebration, and climbing to Everest Base Camp!!!

 

Chhath parva

Thousands of pilgrims from Nepal and India go to the holy town of Janakpur in southern Nepal to pray at the janaki temple and take ceremonial baths in the rivers and ponds. Devotees light lamps, sing songs, and spend the night before Chhath Parva on the banks of rivers and ponds to welcome the god's arrival. Devotees hurry to give prayer holy water, food, coconuts, and sacred threads as the sun's golden rays burst from the sky. You beseech the sun for protection against skin ailments.

 

Conclusion 

These were the most popular festivals in Nepal.  Visit Nepal around the time of these fantastic holiday festivities if you wish to live in a presence for merrymaking rather than skimming through the festivals of Nepal online.We strongly advise you to visit Nepal to experience the dynamism, religious meaning, history, and uniqueness of many civilizations' age-old rituals. These Nepalese festivities are built on mythical and historical foundations. Although participation in every festival may not be possible during your vacation to Nepal, why not participate in these wonderful galas worth experiencing?