Festivals in Nepal begins with something religious and moves with spontaneous spirit into a pleasant family feast as for a Nepalese religion has been influenced and has always been the core of Nepali culture.
Festivals are manifestation of cultural sensibility of any particular society at its beat. Festivals, through acts and performance of rites and rituals and rituals, are fact not only a way of appeasing of gods and goddesses, but also for warding off evil, for pastoral and agricultural prosperity, longevity, happiness and good health of human life. it also helps in strengthening familial and societal ties by way of gathering, merry-making and socializing.
We all the Nepalese believe that in Kathmandu they are celebrating festival every next day. Most festivals honor a deity with worshippers crowding around a shrine to worship. Great processions win through the streets of the three old cities, kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan and other cities of Nepal. These processions are accompanied by bands of Newar musicians and masked dancers. Some time idols of Gods and paraded in gigantic wooden chariot Rath unique to Nepal. Festivals are an important part of Nepalis society. It is the essence of their everyday life.
These are the most commonly celebrated festivals in Nepal:
In the holy month of Magh the sun enters the southern hemisphere, and the days begin to grow longer and warmer. Lord Vishnu the preserver is thanked for his efforts. On maghe sankranti people take an early morning bath in holy river, visit the shrines of Vishnu,and present flowers, incense and food to him. They read the Bhagwad,Gita also known as the song of the Gods, apply mustard oil over their bodies, and enjoy feast rice cooked with lentils, yams or tarul-a must-and til ko laddu, sweets oade of seasame and jaggery (sugarcane paste). People from many parts of the country rush tp Devghat, a confluence of three rivers, to take holy bath in the river on this day.
Sherpas and Tibetans welcome their New year with feasts, family visits and dancing. Families put on their finest clothes and jewelry and exchange gifts. Buddhist mon in th ks offer prayers for good health and prosperity, and perform dances at the monasteries. Colorful prayer flags decorate streets and rooftops, and the colors seem especially brilliant at the Bouddha and Swayambhu stupas. Crowds of celebrants at Boudha bring in the new year by throwing tsampa (roasted barley flour) into the air.
Basanta panchmi (shree panchami)
Basanta panchami of Shree panchmi honors the deities of knowledge and learning. Hindus honor the goddess Saraswati and Buddhists the god Manjushre. Basanta panchami announces the advent of spring, with official ceremonies at Hanuman Dhaka. The day is also considered one of the auspicious in the year to get married. On this day upper caste Hindu boys are given their first initiation as it is dedicated to learning. Most popular is the especially school children, line up from sunrise. People also flock to the kunda in patan. Ceremonies associated with the instruments of art and learning books, pans, brusher, etc. take place at home. Traditionally, children are given their first alphabet lesson this day.
All year pashupatinath attracts pilgrims sadhus, devotees and mendicants, but on this day the visitors are in the reans of thousands, many are from India or the terai ane begin arriving a few days before, some camping out in the vicinity of the temple. Shiva’s sacred day begins at midnight but devotees don’t really begin streaming in, past a tremendous Variety of sadhus, mendicants of various types and deformities, devotees performing roadside penances (standing with a small trident thrust through the tongue, being buried up to the neck etc.)And metro the scared lingam inside the temple and then bathe, or at least splash a little, in the river. The royal family takes part in afternoon rites at Tundikhel parade ground, receiving a 31-gun a salute at the end. The king and his entourage pay homage to Shiva in the evening, when the whole tempo of the activity there has picked up, especially the musical side. Hundreds sadhus reside in attendanced camps in the courtyards of the temples situated at the opposite bank, where non Hindus are also free to wander. The curious can witness some rather interesting yogic demonstrations there.
It gets chilly in the evening, but there are usually several fires and lively scenes going at least till midnight, when the consecrated time elapses. In Bhaktapur, devotees honor Shiva by playing a visit to the Dattatreya Temple in Tachapal and people in other towns and villages of the valley celebrate it with bonfires and vigils.
Fagu Poornima (Holi)
Holi celebrates the death of the demoness Holika. This wicked woman, who was supposed to be invulnerable to fire, tried many times to kill her nephew, an ardent devotee of lord Vishnu. In the end she put the boy on her lap and set fire beneath them, thinking he would be burned up and she would escape. But instead the boy remained unharmed and Holika, to her surpise, immolated herself. The rites of this festival celebrate her end.
Fagu poornima begins the first day with the raising of the Chir pole about noon in front of kumari house in basantapur. Holi is known as ‘playing with color ‘festival. Young and old, especially the children throw bags of water or handful of colored powder at each other and make it pleasure. In Terai region, they celebrate it the next day when people of valley celebrate it.
Hindus celebrate Dashain twice a year in Nepal. Chaite Dashain is one of these. The most public of the ceremonies are the ritual animal sacrifices performed by the army in the courtyard of the police station at Hanuman Dhoka. This commences from 8:00 a.m. and is performed before the banners and insignia of various military units. Goats and buffaloes are the victims, beheaded by a single stroke of the sword. In previous years anyone in the audience could volunteer to dispatch one of the animals, but this custom has lapsed. Western visitors are slowed to view from a balcony overlooking the courtyard, with a splendid view of all the gore. The rites last about two hours and are concluded after the military commander smears each of the banners with the sacrificial blood.
Hindus worship God ram as a victory day, all Hindus worship Ram at various temple in janakpur. Sacrificing of roosters, goats, and buffaloes at temples are main activities of this day.
The old kingdom of Bhaktapur and its neighhoring areas replay a drama passed on over the centuries during this important festival. Images of wrathful and somewhat demonic deities are placed on tottering chariots Raths. They are offered blood sacrifices, flowers, and coins. Men brimming with youthful vigor and rice beer, drag the chariots across brick-paved streets of the town, and where ever these raths stop, lamps are lit and devotees overflow into the surrounding alleys. Other gods and goddesses too are put on palanquins and carried around so that they may see the sights. There is a tongue-boring ceremony at Bode village, Thimi in which there is a belief that the dedicated will be reserve a place in heaven.
Mother’s day symbolizes love, affection for living mother and memory for dead mother. It is also the day of ‘looking at Mother’ face’. For the living it is a reminder to pray for their souls. In this day, a special Mela is organized at Mata Tirtha. There are two pools at Mata Tirtha, the lower one is bigger and used for bathing. The smaller upper one is called the pond of “Looking at Mother’s Face”, for it is believed, or was believed, one could see the face of one’s mother in the pool’s reflection.
Buddha jayanti is the special occasion for both Hindu and Buddhists. They celebrate this day as the day of the Buddha Siddartha’s birth, enlightenment and death. His birthplace-Lumbini Grove is in the Terai region of Nepal. Buddhists of all persuasions throughout the valley, as well as pilgrims for abroad honor the Buddha on this day, most particularly at the two great stupas and the largely Buddhist city of patan. Activity at the main Buddhist stupas and shrines begins at down. Swayambhunath and Budhanath are the busiest sites for the day of the day of Buddha jayanti.
king of serpents is asked for blessing, and his jeweled vest is shown to the public.
This day honors the Nagas, the snake-gods, who in Nepal are associated with rain. The festival honors an ancient victory of a king, who was also a Tantric master. Over the nags, who had been withholding the rain. The king forced their submission by casting magic spells over them. Worship of the Nags on this day, a compromise the conqueror graciously bestowed, insures there will be on brought. Nepalese Nag portraits from the street stalls the day before and on the morning of Nag Panchami attach these over their doorways. They then perform a small puja and leave a food offering in the yards and paddies for the snakes.
Janai Purnima (Rakshya Bandban)
Janai Purima the day when Hindu change the janai, the sacred thread the men were on their chests. This full moon day sees floks of Brahmins ( hindu priests) at the holy riverbanks. They take ritual dips in the water and offer ablution to gods. They then change their sacred threads and also tie yellow sacred threads around the wrists of the faithful. Newars of the Kathmandu valley call this festival Gunhi punhi, a soup of different sprouted beans known as kwati, is prepared as the special menu of the day.
At kumbherswar in patan, richly decorated limgam, the phallic symbol of load shiva, it placed on a raised platform in the middle of the kumbherswar (knowanti) pond to received homage form devotees. Another ceremony that takes place here is Byan –ja nakegu, in which rice is offered to frogs in gratitude for a good rain. In baktapur, as a preclude to saparu the next day, a jujuya ghinatanghishi (kings carnibal)goes around town. The participants dress in outlandish costumes and gambol to the tune of traditional music.
On the day of gai jatra, families how have lost a member during the year pared a decorated cow around the city. Other dress up kids as cows or ascetics and walk in procession along the festival route. The sacred animal help departed soul to cross the cosmic ocean in their journey into the after-world.
There is also a cosmic aspect to the festival. Humorous and satirical items are included to help be received families get over there grief. There are street shows making fun of government officials. People also roam the city dressed of like lunatics. News papers bring out special mad editions on the day.
In Kathmandu, the bereaved families proceed along the festival rout individually. In patan, all the participants first gather at durbar square and then move out together. The celebration in Baktapur is the must interesting. Tall bamboo contraptions, wrapped in cloth and toppea with horns fashioned of straw, are carried around the city in memory of the dead. People of Bahtapur proceed along the festival rout performing spectacular ghinda-ghini twakka dance.
Lord Krishna, the dark god who taught warrior Arjuna the value of karma in the Bhagwad Gita, was born at midnight on the eight day of the dark moon of August. To celebrate the birthday of this much-loved Hindu god, devotees flock to the Krishna mandir in patan on the preceding day. There, men and woman from far away gather around the 17th century temple and sit in vigil waiting for the midnight fill the air, and small oil lamps are lit as a mark of felicitation and devotion to the deity. Images of lord Krishna are also carried around the city in a procession accompanied by joyous crowds of followers and musical bands.
Gokarna aunsi is a special day set apart for the veneration of one’s fathers alive or dead. On this auspicious day, son and daughter offer ritual food, sweets, meat and other gifts to there father. The streets are a happy scene with married daughter with loads of goodies making their way to their parents ‘houses. Ceremony is also known as looking upon father’s face.’ Those whose father are no more make this day by visiting gokran and other sacred sports and worship the deities. Their day performs anniversary rituals in honor of their departed father and offer aims of rice, pulses and coins to the priests.
Dancing, flock song, and the red color of woman’s wedding sarees dominate the day of teej, a hindu festival of womanhood. The day recalls the heavenly occasion when parbati, daughter of the himalaya, won the hand of lord shiva after serve meditation and fasting.
On the first day mother send gift of food and sarees to their daughter’s houses, and groups of woman’s gather together to feast. At midnight, the woman begins a fast in emulation of parabati. The second day is for worship, in the early morning of the third day, woman in red flock to the pasupatinath temple, the grate temple of load shiva.the married ones asked for a happy and productive marriage an a long life for the their husbands, and those at to tie the nuptial knot asked for an ideal husbands.
The grate harvest festival of nepa, dashain is a time of family reunion,the exchange of gifts and blessings, profuse pujas , ritual bathing and animal sacrifices. Dashai honors the goddess durga, hor was crated out of the shakti energy of all the gods, armed with weapons from each of them. Goddess Durga, symbolizing valor and prowess, is worshipped and offered animal sacrifices for the devotees’ progress prosperity.
During the first ten days, pilgrims throng various river confluences early in the morning and sacred shrines in the evening. Ghatasthapan, phool pati, mahaastami, nawami and vijaya dasami are series of the events under dashain. On dasmi, men ane woman in their fineries visit there elders to seektika (a dab of red vermilion mixed with yougort and rice). Sword precessions (paayaa) are also held in various part of the Kathmandu valley.the last day known as kojagrat purnima, is the full moon. From this day onwards. Hindu woman being a month – long fast, many in residence at pasupatnath. New clothes visits, grand feasts, kite flying and village swings are the highlight of dashain.
Tihar ( Diwali)
This festival is a time of light and tinsel decorations, fancy sweets and juicy fruits. The calibrations being with the adoration of cows and dogs. Leaf dishes of rice, incense and light are set out for the dark messenger, while dogs are worshiped and offered goodies. In the period of tiher laxmi, the goddess of wealth is worshipped. Rows of lamps are placed on windows and doors, with the strong hop that laxmi, the goddess of walth is worshipped. Rows of lamp are placed on windows and door with strong hop the laxmi pleased to reside in light. The following day belong to the cow, representative of laxmi. Laxmi pooja, gobardan pooja and Bhai tika are the series of event under tihar. In the day of Bhai tika sister and brothers get together and accept tika from each other. This day is called brothers day. Bother and sister honor each other on this day and sister pray to yama, the god of death, for their brother’s progress, prosperity and longevity.
The worship of surya, the sun god, attracts thousands of pilgrims to the holy town of janakpur in southeastern Nepal devotees from Nepal and India throng the ancient city to worship at the janaki temple and take ritual baths in the rivers and ponds. Devotees light lamps, sing song and spend the night before chhath parva at banks of rivers and ponds to grate the coming of the god. As the fiscal rays of the sun blaze from the sky, devotees scramble to offer prayer holy water, fruits, coconuts and sacred threads. Thy pray to the sun protection from skin diseases.
Mani Rimdu is grates festival of the sherpas of the khumbu in the Everest region. The celebrations take place of the tengboche monastery and last for three days. The ceremonies start with the blowing of horns by Buddhist monks. Then the chief lama and other monks arrive in the procession. Prayers are chant and gratitude is extended to all those who has contributed for the function. The crowd then rises of to symbols, horns, flutes and conch shells announce the start of the second day’s events. Then follow the sacred dance in which monks wearing masks perform routines symbolizing the destruction of evil forces.
Another special day for the deceased, this festivals rites are designed to appease the souls of the death any wrong committed against them wile they were still alive. The rites of this chaturdasi are in honor of bala, a burning ghat laborer how accidentally at a piece of bourn flesh become a demon addicted to cannibalism. Several different stories narrate the tale but motif common to all is that bala was trcked by a gesture of friendship and killed. His vanquisher then began the custom of scattering grains for the dead this day, to atone for the fatal subterfuge. The mela begins at dusk evening, prior with devotees assembling in the vicinity of pasupatnath for all night vigils. Ceremonies ritual bating being at dawn, followed by a long, 2-3 hour procession though a rough course over which the participants scatterbrains. This continues until a horn sounds the termination in the evening.
Nepal’s Tamang, Magar, Gurung and other Himalayan communities celebrate lhosar to commemorate the beginning of the Tamu lhosar lunar new year. As part of the festivities, Buddhist monks hold prayer meetings at monasteries, which are specially decorated for the event. People raise holy flogs atop their homes, and relatives and friends exchange greeting. The festival is an occasion for people to come together for singing and dancing, dressing up for many days. Cultural performances are also held.
Chrstiam communities of the country celebrate Christmas and teenagers and others from different religion join in as well. All the major hotel and restaurants organize special parties for to occasion.
New Year Eve
Chistiam New Year celebrated in all major cities, specially in themal of Kathmandu and lake side of pokhara. All the major hotels and restaurants