“a country of many different events and colorful festive festivals”
Amazing to know that Nepal is blesses with many various festivals and events religious and cultural wise, it happens throughout the year some big-moderate to smaller festivals but the enjoyment continues all around the year.
As Nepal has many ethnic tribes of people worshipping Hinduism-Buddhism religions and as well their own tribal animism practices which still exists since ancient times.
Religious practices with festival events are an important part of the lives of the Nepalese people. Mythologies of various Hindu gods and goddesses abound in this country and cultural values are based on the philosophies of holy books, this is important to all travelers in Nepal and to respect the nature and mountain spirit and its culture.
In Nepal with more than 50 festivals celebrated every year. While the national festivals have fixed dates, religious festivals are set by astrologers following the lunar calendar. The best part about the festivals in Nepal is that all the events are celebrated with enthusiasm and galore as it was hundreds of centuries when people had no other means of entertainment.
We have listed most of the major Hindu festivals of Nepal as follows:
Mid January as per Hindu Lunar calendar. It is a celebration of the harvest festival. People take dips in rivers and worship the Sun God especially in the holy river. The dip is said to purify the self and bestow “punya”. Special puja is offered as a thanksgiving for good harvest. According to folklore, girls who take the holy dip get handsome husbands and boys get beautiful brides.
Shiva Ratri is held around end of February or first week of March as per Hindu calendar.
Mahashivaratri, or the night of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, it is the biggest festival observed in Pashupatinath.
Lord Shiva, one of Nepal’s most popular gods. During Maha Shivaratri, “Great Night”, followers throughout the Indian sub-continent crowds the Pashupatinath temple to worship.
Colorful Sadhus, the wanderings sages who emulate Shiva, rub ashes over the bodies, provides lectures to disciples, meditate, or practice yoga. Devotees pray to Shiva’s image inside the temple at midnight and with long queue for near six hours to look at the image.
Bonfires are lit, neighbors and friends share food, and devotees enjoy two days and a night of music, song, and dance throughout Pashupatinath complex and in the streets.
There will be elaborate arrangements enabling sadhus and devotees to pay homage to the Lord Pashupatinath during the Mahashivaratri.
HOLI (Fagu Purnima) – Festival of colours:
This colorful event falls at March / April as per Hindu calendar.
Holi marks the end of the winter gloom and rejoices over the starting of the spring time. It is the best time and season to celebrate; People play with different colors.
NEPALS NEW YEAR DAY – Bikram Sambat around April months:
Nepalese New Years day observed in a grand way. One of the great Bisket Jatra happens in Bhaktapur which is not to be missed.
Falls on April months, observed as a sacred day on which Lord Rama incarnated on this earth to do away with the evils. Devotees keep fasting and worship lord Rama.
BUDDHA JAYANTI Birth Anniversary of Lord Buddha ‘Light of Asia”:
Around the months of May, the ever benevolent Buddha was born in Nepal, and the religion is preached is the second most popular in the Kingdom. On a full moon day, the Lord’s birth, enlightments, and salvation are applauded throughout the valley with celebrations. Swayambhunath and Bouddhanath Stupas are prepared for the oncoming festivities several days in advance.
Monasteries and statues are polished, bright prayer flags waft in the breeze, and monks prepare special prayers and dance. On this Jayanti day, people reach the stupas before down, skirts around the Stupa and offers prayer and religious rites to many Buddha images there.
On the final day, in a nearby field, courtiers fire ancient muskets as a high lama shoots an arrow at a red demon effigy laid on a ragged tiger skin. He tosses five more demons into the sand to signify the exorcising of the city.
Observed around the month of August as per Hindu calendar dates.
Nag Panchami major sacred festivals celebrated in Nepal by the Hindus.
It is just to show respect to serpents as mentioned in ancient Hindu sacred scriptures. During the festivals snakes are offered milk and rice cow’s milk is an essential item to worship the Nags.
Nags / Serpent are thought to be very dangerous creatures. So they are worshipped on this day by the people to escape from the fear. It’s believed that; if worshiped to the Nags on this day; one will be free from any kind of snake’s bite.
Nags are believed to be the sources of water so the scriptures explain that they stay inside the sources of water from where it flows. So people worship to the spouts and springs’ sources in the belief of Nags residence.
JANAI PURNIMA & GAI JATRA:
Observed in the month of August as Hindu calendar, a most colorful religious procession of cows and people with weird head dress painted as figure of cows goes round the market places. Relatives of deceased send religious groups to join the precession. The ‘Gai’ or cow is holy to Hindus. She represents Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, and guides the souls of the departed to the gates of Heaven / Paradise.
But Gaijatra is full of satire, jokes, fancy costumes, and colorful processions are the order of the day, as the story and history recalls 18th century king rallied his people to cheer up his queen upon the death of their son.
Those who have experienced death of close ones during the past years share their sorrow and take comfort in the fact that Gai (cow) has safely transported the departed souls on their afterlife journey.
Young men wearing women’s saris, children dressed up as cows, and whimsical characters of all sorts fill the streets.
SHREE KRSIHNA JANAM ATAMI:
Falls in August month dates as per Hindu calendar, Hindus observe it by remaining awake the whole night performing religious dances and singing in the praise of Lord Krishna.
TEEJ – FESTIVAL FOR WOMEN:
This event also falls in the month of August as per Hindu calendar, Teej is the fasting festival of women in Nepal.
Married women observe Teej fasting honoring Lord Shiva and for long and healthy life of their husband.
Unmarried girls also observe fast on this day to get the right and good husband. Teej celebrations last for three pious days. Traditional dances and songs make an important feature of Teej celebrations.
Red color is considered auspicious for women observing Teej and so most of them dress up in red or bridal clothes.
A week-long festival ( Held in September months as per Hindu and Nepal own calendar) begins by hoisting Lord Indra’s flag (Indradhoj) at midnight and faces of Bhairavas deities are displayed in important public places.
Indra the king of heaven and rains, as the end of the monsoon farmers look forward for rich harvest, everyone praises the god for his help.
For eight days, Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is the focus of this great celebration honor to the “King of Heaven” or Indra’s dhwaj, or flag, is erected on the first day. It is said that many centuries ago, Indras mother needed specially-scented flowers but could not find them in heaven’s gardens.
Indra discovered parijat (gladiolus) flowers around Kathmandu Valley and tried to steal for his mother. He was caught and imprisoned by the Valley people. When Indra’s mother came searching for her son the people were appalled by what they had done.
So they released Indra and dedicated this festival in respect to appease his anger. Masks and statues representing Vishnu, Bhairab, and Shiva are shown to the public and to Goddess Kumari observe the festival from her chariot.
DASHAIN / DAHSERA:
Observe in the month of late September or in October as per Nepalese Hindu calendar, Dasain is the longest and most important festival of Nepal.
Every people stays home with their families and the blue clear sky of Kathmandu are filled with Kites and the marketplaces are filled with farmers bringing their goats, buffaloes, ducks and Chickens for selling.
The animals are sacrificed on the night of ‘Kal Ratri’ in respect to goddess Durga celebrating her victory over evil.
On the day of Dasami, everyone wears new clothes and pay homage to honor the elders, where they get blessed with ‘Tika’ of rice (uncooked) and curd with vermilion paste on their foreheads.
In the following days of Dasain, families and friends unite, feasts are consumed, blessing is imparted and gifts are exchanged. Nepal’s most beloved festival ends at full moon.
TIHAR / DIWALI (festival of lights):
Takes place in end of October or in November months as per Hindu calendar).
This is second big festival of Hindus in Nepal, it is also known as festival of lights, a night of candlelight, tinsel decorations and festive colored sweets. On different days, there are offerings and small celebrations for crows, dogs, cows and oxen.
On the night of Laxmi Puja, houses are decorated with garlands and lamps to invite goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune.
Mha Puja, the New Year’s Day according to the Nepal Era, also falls on the days of Tihar.
Bhai Tika, the last day of Tihar, is the day when sisters offers and bless their brothers. The ritual of breaking wall nuts, putting garlands and circling around brothers in order to protect them from Evils and Bad things, the first day of the festival people worship ‘crows’ and on the second day ‘dog’ is worshipped in the morning and is given good food to eat.