Festival and Events of Nepal

There are numerous festivals in Nepal which reflects the Culture of Nepal with the true essence of past traditions of Nepal. Nepal visit cannot be complete without taking part of festival here if one wants to explore Nepal’s culture in a real way. Every month of a year has a festival, so no need to be think about particular month to visit the Nepal for participating into the festival.

MAGHE SANGRANTI (January): As the Sun enters the southern hemispheres, people in Nepal celebrate Maghe Sankranti on 14th January. On this very day people take early morning bath if possible in a holy river of Bagmati, put on the best of clean clothes and visit Lord Vishnu’s temples to pay their homage to the god with puja items like flowers, license, fruits etc. At home they read Bhagwad Gita, a sacred Hindu book. Messaging entire body with mustard oil is regarded as very auspicious on this particular day. Nepali family enjoys a hearty delicious meal comprising rice cooked with lentils, yams and sweets like laddu made from seasame and sugarcane paste etc. On this day people in huge numbers gather around Devghat in Chitwan to take a dip into the meeting point of river Kali, Gandaki and Trisuli. Such action is believed to free devotees from sins, cleanse their soul and make them closer to god. This day onwards days get longer and warmer.

BASANTA PANCHAMI (February): Basanta Panchami is also called Shri Panchami or Saraswoti Puja and is celebrated on 13th February in the honor of Goddess Saraswoti, goddess of knowledge and learning. This day is very special for students. They take early morning bath, wear clean clothes, worship their books and visit temple of goddess Saraswoti with puja items. Students believe that worshipping the goddess on this day broadens up their knowledge horizon and their studies will progress further fruitfully. Parents who have toddlers at home take them to temples and make them write on the walls of the temple. This day also bears cultural and religious significance for Buddhists who prioritize this day for worshipping God Manjushree. At Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu official announcement is made indicating the arrival of spring. Astrologically, Shri Panchami is an ideal day for couples to tie a marriage knot and also for new born babies’ name-giving sacrament called nwaran.

Lhosar is New Year for Sherpas and Tibetans. They openheartedly enjoy it from 9th to 11th February with delicious feasts, family, relatives, friends, music and dance. They wear finest of clothes and jewellery and exchange gifts with each other. At monasteries priests perform ritual ceremony to bring auspiciousness. Bouddha and Swayambhu stupas are adorned with colorful attractive decorations and so are the houses. People throw roasted barley flour, also called tsampa, on the air as a sign of welcoming their New Year.

MAHA SHIVARATRI (March): Maha Shivaratri takes place on 8th March. On this occasion, devotees pay their utmost homage to Lord Shiva. Hindus all over the world gather in Pashupatinath temple to pay their tribute to his almighty. The temple will showcase a worth watching crowd of naked sadhus with ash covered bodies and people lined up in thousands. Majority of Hindus take fasting. In the evening or at night they worship Lord Shiva with all the necessary puja items. Hindus at home make bonfire and sit by the fire.

GATHEMANGAL or GHANTAKARNA (April): Celebrated on 8th April, Gathan-muga holds special significance to Newari community of Nepal. Gathan-muga is also called Gathemangal or Ghantakarna. At the time when Newari community used to rely heavily on agriculture for livelihood, they were very superstitious about evil spirit spelling evilness onto their harvest and so they consulted with Tantric to permanently ward off this fear. People way back then were told to put on iron rings on fingers and hammer iron nails into door lintels to drive away evil spirit. As the time progressed, this practice also gained popularity and finally took the form of a festival named Gathan-muga.

NEW YEAR (April): According to Nepali Bikram Sambat calendar, Bhaisakh 1st or 14th April is Nepal’s New Year’s Day. National holiday has been declared on this very day. Nepalese organize parties or get together at homes and full heartedly celebrates the day with good food, music and dance. Many make resolutions for coming year.

BUDDHA JAYANTI (May): 23rd of May being the birthday of Gautam Buddha is celebrated by both Buddhists and Hindus as Buddha Jayanti. People in Kathmandu visit Swayambunath, Boudhnath and other temples of Buddha to pay their homage to Buddha. Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha, is beautified with amazing decorations. Buddhists from all over the world gather here to celebrate the occasion.

TEECHI (May): Teechi is a very special festival for Upper Mustang people. It is celebrated on the last week of May and continues for three consecutive days. Legend has it that when evil Man Tam Ru destroyed humankind and brought about enormous natural catastrophe, Doorjee Sonnu came to rescue. Doorjee Sonnu was the incarnation of Lord Buddha. Doorjee Sonnu’s victory over the evil was celebrated by Upper Mustang people as Teechi. On this day Choedhe Monastery organizes festival dances.

RED MACHHENDRANATH JATRA (June): In the ancient time Kathmandu Valley went through severe famine threatening the lives of ordinary people. God Red Machhendranath was requested to bring in rains. When rainfalls cascaded down the valley with the blessings of the god, the local people as homage to the god started celebrating Red Machhendranath Jatra during the month of June. Chariot seated with Red Machhendranath is roamed all around the valley. People come before the chariot to worship his almighty with puja items.

GAI JATRA (August): 20th August is the day when Nepal embraces the reality of life and death with humor. People grieving the loss of their dear ones gather together and go for a procession on street dressed like cow and other comical characters. This binds people and makes them see that no one is immune to pain and sorrow in life and everyone must take reality of life and death into their stride. Ancient history has it that a queen after the death of her son went into depression. King wanted to get his queen out of her sorrow and so he introduced a festival called Gai jatra where bereaved families were presented before the queen. This made the queen realize that so many other people were also in the similar pain like hers and despite that people went on with their lives holding on to the memories of their lost ones. This helped her ease her pain. People on this day can make satirical comments at any one even the government. Street dramas are organized criticizing renowned public figures and government system. Several newspaper and magazines publish satirical articles. But on this day everyone is forgiven.

TEEJ (September): Teej is a very important festival for both Nepali married and single women and is celebrated on 3rd September. Married women put on their bridal wears which is red sari and put on their best makeup to look stunningly beautiful. This day is regarded as the day when Lord Shiva’s marriage proposal to Parvati was accepted by her father, Himalaya. Therefore, Nepali regard this day very auspicious. Women visit Lord Shiva’s temple to perform puja and offer prayers for their husbands’ longevity, happiness and prosperity. They take very strict fasting living only on water for the entire day. Hindu belief has it that if single women please Lord Shiva, they will have good husband. At night women gather, sings songs of their sorrow and pain and dance to melodious tunes. Teej is a complete women’s day.

INDRA JATRA (September): On 17th September Kathmandu valley celebrates Indra Jatra to please God Indra for his blessings to mankind. A chariot carrying a statue of God Indra is pulled along the streets of Kathmandu valley by youthful men. People nears the chariot to worship God Indra with puja Items. Another chariot carrying Goddess Kumari, Lord Ganesh and Lord Bhairab is also dragged along the valley. People in Lakhe attire performs Lakhe dance.

DASHAIN (October): Dashain is the biggest festival in Nepal. It is celebrated for 11 consecutive days during the months of October. Major events of Dashain are Ghatasthapana, Phool Pati, Mahaastami, Nawami and Vijaya Dashami. It is a celebration of Goddess Durga’s victory over demon Mahisasur. On Ghatasthapana jamara, green-colored plant, is planted in majority of the Nepali household. Phool Pati announces the advent of Dashain. On Nawami animal sacrifices are made to please various forms of goddess Durga. On Dashami people dress up beautifully and visit their elders to receive tika from them. Tika is red vermillion mixed with yogurt and rice. Elders put tika on the forehead of their juniors and give them blessings. Children during this ritual are gifted with money. Kite flying highlights the occasion with fun and joy. Families gather together after tika for a delicious feast and play card, sing and dance for pure entertainment.

NEPAL SAMBAT (November): Nepal Sambat is New Year for Newari community in Nepal and is celebrated on 2nd of November. It follows Lunar calendar. Newari community enjoys this day with good food, best clothes, music and dance.

TIHAR (November): Tihar is also one of the very important Nepali festivals. It is also called festival of lights. Nepal during this time of festival in the month of November looks amazingly breathtaking with its colorful and attractive decorations. It is celebrated for 5 days. First day is termed as Kag puja in which crow is worshipped with puja items and food. Then next comes Kukur puja and similar ritual is followed. After kukur puja, Nepali celebrates Laxmi puja, Gobardhan Puja and then Bhai Tika. After thoroughly cleaning, houses are lit with candles and electronic lights to please Goddess Laxmi and to have prosperity, happiness and harmony in the family with the blessings from goddess Laxmi. Bhai Tika is ceremonial ritual for brothers and sisters. Sisters put tika and offer food, fruits, sweets and gifts to their brothers praying for their longevity. Brothers on the other hand also put tika on their sisters’ forehead and present them gifts.

Leave a Comment