Nepal Information » Festivals in Nepal

Festivals in Nepal

Few people in the world can celebrate as many festivals as the Nepali people Hardly a month passes without a major festivals or feast but the three months from August to November is a real festivals season and you are bound to see picturesque festivals if you visit Nepal during this time. Almost all of the religious festivals of Nepal are based on lunar calendar and occur at different dates every year. Here are some major festivals includes


April
Nepalese New Year's Day : - (First day of Baisakh):

The Nepalese New Year's Day usually falls in the second week of April. i .e. the first day of Baisakh. The day is observed as a national holiday. The people celebrate it with a great pomp and show. On this occasion, Bisket Jatra is held in the city of Bhaktapur.

Matatirtha Aaunsi :- (Mother’s Day) :

Mata Tritha Puja" which in English is "Mother's day". This festival falls on the last day of the dark fortnight of April or early May. It is a day when one shows appreciation and gratitude to his/her mother for her unconditional love and undying support.


Chaitra Dasain :

It also called small Dashain, in contrast to October's Big Dasain, this festival his similar in many respects and many goats and buffloes are sacrified to the goddess Durga at Kot Square near the old Royal Palace in kathmandu. It is worthwhile visiting the town of Gorkha during this festival which is celebrated with special pomp.


May - June

Baisakh Poornima (20 May 2008 Lord Buddha's Birth Anniversary): As Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the Light of Asia, the triple anniversary of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death is observed with many colorful ceremonies on this day. People celebrate the occasion with great veneration paying homage to Buddha at places kike Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath and Lumbini. Red Machchhendranath Rath Jatra: This festival is the biggest socio-cultural event of Patan. The wheeled chariot of a deity known as Bungdyo or Red Machchhendranath is made at Pulchowk and dragged through the city of Patan in several stages till it reaches the appointed destination Lagankhel. The grand finale of the festival is called the "Bhoto Dekhaune" or the " showing of the vest". A similar kind of chariot festival White Machchhendranath is also held in Kathmandu City in the month of March-April.


July
Ghanta Kharna :-

A festival commemorating an ancient victory over a particularly malevolent devil, Gathemuga. Mock funerals are held and figures burned in effigy.

Dumji :-

It is celebrated in all the Sherpa settlements. The Sherpas of Kathmandu and Helambu regions participate in dancing on this day.

August
Guru Poornima :-

Teacher's Day

Naga Panchami :-

A festival devoted to the snake gods, who most Nepalese believe ruled the Valley before the coming of people. Since snakes are believed to have power over the Monsoon rainfall, it is important that they are appeased: their image also keeps even 9and they themselves) from entering the home.

Janai Purnia :-

The festival of changing of the sacred thread which every Brahmin caste Hindu male wears around his torso.

September
Gaijatra(Cow Festival) :-

A festival to the sacred cow. Among other symbolisms of the cow, cows are believed to lead the souls of the dead to the underworld; and on Gaijatra Newar households process around an ancient path believed to mark the city walls of times past, in honor of recently deceased members of their families. It's also a carnival celebration with practical jokes - something like Mardi Gras combined with April Fool's day.


Krishna Asthami :-

Celebrating the birth of the Hindu God Krishna, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.


Gokarna Aunsi :-

Father's Day


Indra Jatra :-

This festival officially begins with the raising of a 50-feet tall ceremonial pole at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu. A weeklong traditional display of old images of Akash Bhairavs is one of the highlights of this festival. The ceremonial pulling of the rath (chariot) of the Kumari, the chariots of Ganesh and Bhairav accompany the Virgin or Living Goddess



October
Dashain:-

This is the occasion for the family reunion; a reason for someone to return home, if he or she has been away from home for a while. Government offices and schools remain closed throughout the country and people of all classes and caste celebrate the festival with equal zeal and interest. Everyone in the family gets new clothes and chickens, goats or buffaloes are killed for the feast, no matter one needs to take out loans for. Villagers also make swings with bamboo and ropes. Everyone will be in joyous mood.


The festival lasts for 15 days but the most important days are the 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th and the 10th day. The first day of the festival, which falls on the first day of the bright lunar fortnight of the month Ashwin is called Ghatasthapana-which means the " installing of a holy water vessel" in the prayer room. The holy water vessel, known as "Kalash" is installed on the bed of sand and soil. The sand bed is also seeded with grains like wheat, barley, paddy etc. The senior most male of the family performs ritual and chants prayers to Goddess Durga and waters the seeds for 9 days. The seeds germinate to yellow sprouts of about 6 inches by the 10th day. The sacred yellow grass-which is called "jamara" and the blessed red color paste-known as 'tika' are bestowed by the senior members of the families to the juniors on the 10th day of the festival.


Installation of the holy vessel and germination of "jamara" for the Royal family is still done in the ancestral palace of Gorkha which lies more than 100 miles west of Kathmandu. On the 7th day of the festival, which is called "Phoolpatee", the Royal Kalash filled with sacred water, together with 'jamara', banana stalks, sugar cane etc wrapped up with red cloth is carried by the priests of the Royal ancestral palace of Gorkha on a decorated palanquin shaded by gold-tipped and embroidered canopy, led by a military platoon of the royal priest. The carriers of Jamara walk for 3 days from Gorkha to Kathmandu. The palace and government officials, attired in formal dresses line up in the street to welcome the procession bearing the "jamara'. There will be ceremonies with artillery fires in Tudhikhel and formerly the king would attend the ceremony and now it's the President as the monarchy no longer exists in the country.


The eighth day is called the 'Maha Asthami'. Today, Goddess Durga and Kali are appeased with animal bloods. Animal sacrifices are made almost in every household and temples. There are only 5 kinds of animals considered eligible for sacrifices; goats, buffaloes, pigs, chicken and ducks. The animals must be male and un-castrated to be accepted by the goddess. There will be tantric worships and prayers.


The 9th day is called "Maha Nawami". Today, people worships the tools and machineries they use in everyday life for their job. It's common to see people worshipping their motor vehicles. Workers of the factories will worship their machines. Animal sacrifices are made for the machines and tools as well. Those who are against animal sacrifice will chop the squash or break open the coconut. People worship Lord Bishwakarma-the God of the Workers! Taleju Temple at Durbar Square which remains closed throughout the year is opened for public visit today. The military men of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace make buffalo sacrifices to appease Goddess Durga. Foreign visitors are allowed to enter the palace and witness the rituals inside. Military bands play war tunes and guns are fired. By the time the ritual of the day is over, there will be a pool of blood in the palace courtyard. Those who are not used to seeing animal bloods are advised not to attend the ceremony.


The 10th day is called "Viajaya Dashami". This is the day Goddess Durga got victory over Demons. This is also the day Lord Rama, blessed by Goddess Durga defeated the demon King Ravana of Lanka. This day represents the day of victory of good over bad. Today, the seniors of the family bestow 'jamara' and 'tika" to the juniors in the family. People also will visit their parent in-laws, uncles and aunts and other senior relatives. Presidents palace will be open for public and government officials so that they can receive 'tika' and 'jamara' from the President', a tradition of the palace still followed, although the monarchy no longer exists. The tradition of receiving 'tika' and 'jamara' continues till the 15th day as people traveling from far away may not be able to pay visit to all the relatives in a single day. The festival concludes on the 15th day, called Poornima, when the remaining jamara and holy vessel is disposed in the river.


November
Tihar:-

It is also known as Diwali or Deepavali, is the festival of lights in Nepal. The celebrations continue for five days. It is an annual festival celebrated in the bright blue days of autumn. The festival begins with the worship of crows, followed by the worship of dogs on the 2nd day. On the 3rd day, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped. On the 5th day, one's own soul is worshipped. Sisters also worship their brothers on this day. This is called Bhai Tika, and is a great day and the grand finale to Tihar.


Constitution Day :-

The new democratic constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal was promulgated on November 9, 1990. since then, this day is observed as the Constitution day.


Dhanya Purnima :-

A full moon festival celebrating the end of the rice harvest. Mani Rimdu :- It is one of the most fascinating High Himalayan Buddhist festivals observed every year, usually in November. Tengboche, the world's highest monastery located in Solu Khumbu district of Nepal, is the focal point for the celebration of this festival. The main attraction of this festival is the various masked dances of religious significance.


December
Bala Chaturdashi :-

People from all over the valley and beyond come to the temple of Pashupati to take part in a ceremony which consists of scattering seeds of different kinds and burning candles in memory of their dead relatives. The evening is the best time to observe the ceremony as you will see many pilgrims perfoming religious rites and singing and dancing. The best place to watch is from across the Banmati River which gives a good view of the illuminated temple and pilgrims worshipping. Many pilgrims from far away villages spend the night around the temple.


Seto Machhendranath :-

A cleansing ritual for the White (seto) Machhendranath, a counterpart god to the Red (rato) Machhendranath who's chariot procession is in April-May.


January
Prithivi Jayanti :-

This festival is celebrated in honor of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of Modern Nepal, with a colorful ceremony in front of the Singh Durbar Gate in Kathmandu on


February
Losar :-

This festival is celebrated in honor of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of Modern Nepal, with a colorful ceremony in front of the Singh Durbar Gate in Kathmandu on It is one of the greatest festivals of significant importance to the Sherpas and peoples of Tibetan origin. It is celebrated every year in February. The focus of this festival centers around the celebration of the Tibetan New Year. Many fascinating rituals and celebrations may be observed in Boudha and in Tibetan settlements such as the Tibetan Refugee Camp at Jawlakhel, Patan.


National Democracy Day :-

his day is officially observed as Rastriya Prajatantra Divas or National Democracy Day ( it generally falls on February 18th i.e. 7th of Phalgun as a mark of respect ot people's revolution of 1950 - 51.


Maha Shiva Ratri :-

Shivaratri or the night of Lord Shiva, is observed in March. It is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. A great religious fair takes places in the Pashupatinath Temple and thousands of people from all over Nepal and India visit the temple.


Marriage Ceremony :-

Marriage ceremonies in Nepal are cupposed to take place only at particular time of the year mid January to mid - March mid - April to mid- June and mid - November to mid - December. Astrologers select auspicious dates within these periods on the basis of the positions of the stars. On particularly auspicious days it is quite common to see several marriage processions. The marriage rituals differ in the various communities but almost always there is a procession preceded by a band. The bridegroom spends a night at the bride's house where a big religious ceremony is held during which the bride and groom walk around a fire on a platform so that the fire "witnesses" the marriage.

Nepal Fact Sheet
 
Area : 147,181 sq. km
Geography : Situated between China in the north and India in the South
Location : Latitude: 2612' to 3027' North Longitude:804' to 8812' East
Capital : Kathmandu
Population : 23 million
People : 101 ethnic groups and 92 spoken languages
Climate : sub-tropical in low lands to arctic in higher altitudes

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