Nepali is a multi – Cultural country with a unique cultures and
traditions which they have been following for centuries. Nepal is a
miscellaneous country with an untrustworthy landscape, rich bio –
diversity and diverse culture of the people living here. They have their
own set of beliefs and festivals to celebrate. Each community holds
their unique cultures and traditions which they are following from the
very long period of time.
There’s no doubt calling Nepal as the land of festivals. Most of the day
in Nepal is the day of celebration of festivals for one or another
community. The best part of the Nepalese people is that “one’s pride in
one’s culture and they have respect for the other’s culture too”. Thus
this is the reason Nepal is a country of harmony.
It is not an easy task to mention all the festivals celebrated in Nepal,
but we have tried to mention some of the popular festivals celebrated
by majority of people in the country.
Dashain, Tihar, Lhosar, Holi, Chhath parva, Teej, Bisket Jatra, Ghode
Jatra, Indra Jatra etc are some of the important festivals celebrated in
Dashain or Vijaya Dashami is regarded as a major festival of Nepal as
about 80 percent of the people in Nepal follow Hinduism. Dashain is the
longest and the most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat and Nepal
Sambat annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese people, throughout the
globe. It is the most anticipated festival in Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and
North Indian hills. People return from all parts of the world, as well
as different parts of the country, to celebrate together. All government
offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed
during the festival period. The festival falls in Sepetember or October,
starting from the Shukla Paksha (bright lunar fortnight) of the month
of Aswin and ending on Purnima, ( the full moon). The festival is
celebrated for 15 days. Ghatasthapana, is the first day of Dashain. 7th
day is fulpati, 8th day is asthami and 9th day is nawami and on the 10th
day is the vijaya Dashami. On the auspicious day, people receive tika
and jamara along with blessings and dakshina from the elders and this
continues for 5 remaining days.
Tihar is the festival of lights and flowers. It is celebrated for
five days. The 1st day of Tihar is celebrated by worshipping crows, dogs
on the 2nd day. The third day is celebrated by worshipping cow in the
morning and the Goddess of wealth i.e Laxmi in the evening. On this day
the houses are lighted with candles and colourful lights. The 4th day is
celebrated as Govardha puja and the oxes are worshipped in the morning.
And the 5th day is known as Bhai tika, which is very important for
brothers and sisters. On this auspicious day, sisters put seven
different colored tika on their brother’s forehead and put on garlands.
They give dry fruits, sel roti, sweets, and many other. They give dry
fruits, fruits, sel roti, sweets, and many other delicious food to their
brothers . They also wish them for longevity of life, prosperous health
Lhosar means ‘New Year.” It is celebrated by Buddhist people from
different parts of Nepal. There are mainly three different Lhosar
celebrated in Nepal. There are mainly three different Lhosar celebrated
in Nepal: Tamu Lhosar, Sonam Lhosar and Gyalbo Lhosar.
Tama Lhosar is celebrated by the Gurung community people, sonam Lhosar
iscelebrated by the Tamang community, whereas Gyalbo Lhosar is the
festival of the Sherpa and Tibetan communities. Buddhist celebrate
Lhosar with family feasting, dancing and gatherings. On this day, they
read prayers, decorating houses and monasteries.
Holi or Falgu Purnima is known as the festival of colours. It falls
between Febrary / March. Holi is celebrated by playing with colors and
water. There is a mythological reason of celebrating this festival as
well. The day is celebrated for the victory of Prahlad, Vishnu’s
devotee. This day is celebrated for the death of “Holika”, who tried to
Kill Prahlad. She tried to burn Prahlad but only Holika burned to death.
This was the reason for splashing each other with colors saying its
ashes of Holika.
Chhath parva is a four – day festivals celebrated by the Terai people
as the biggest festival worshipping the sun God. They worship the
setting sun and take fast during the day for congruity and prosperity of
their family members. They offer waterto the rising sun the next
morning. They also observe this festivals, by taking holybath, diving
water for a long time, offering food to the sun God etc.
Teej or Haritalika teej is one of the Hindus festival celebrated by
women in the month of Bhadra ( September / October). On this day married
women fast for longevity and prosperity of their husband, and unmarried
women also take fast hoping for a good husband and a family in future.
They dress themselves in red sari and wear designed ornaments. They
gather to dance and sing about women hood. They also visit their
relatives for dar program before the Teej.
Mha Puja is the festival celebrated by the Newar Community of people
celebrated on the fourth day of the Tihar. Mha Puja is celebrated by
performing a ritual puja to purify and empower one’s body and soul.
Family members sit in a row on the floor with mandalas drawn in fromt of
them. Then they follow various rituals and light the mandala to purify
and thank the body they live in.
Buddha Jayanti is the birth anniversary of light of Asia, Gautam
Buddha. Gautama Buddha was born in 563 BC in Kapilvastu, Lumbini.
Therefore, it is an promising day, not just for the Buddhists but also
for the others in the country.
People visit Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Lumbini and other stupas and
monasteries during the day. The delightfully lit butter lamps make these
holy sites look more magical in the evening.
One may observe large gatherings where monks, nuns, and followers read
prayer and tell moral or life story of Lord Buddha. People do Dana
Dharma to show generosity by helping others.
Nepal is rich in cultural and traditional practices. The country
observes numerous Jatras like Ghode Jatra, Bhoto Jatra, and others. Some
of these come from the epics and legends of Hinduism and Buddhism,
others are the result of age- old traditions, cultures of bygone kings
and historical events.
Jatras are usually long processions from one part of the city to the
other carrying various deities in chariots called ‘rathas’ with mascots
according to the theme of the Jatra. Following are some of the most
spectacular Jatras celebrated in the valley.
Bisket Jatra falls on the first month of Nepalese calendar. It is
celebrated specially in Bhaktapur. The myth behind the festival is that,
“there was a princess whose husbands kept dying on the wedding bed.
This was awkward for the royal family. Then came there a prince, who was
blessed by the goddess, who found a pair of serpents came out of the
sleeping princess. He filled them and the princess finally remained
During this festival, chariots of Lord Bhairav and Goddess Bhadrakali
are pulled through different parts of the city. At Lyasinkhel, a tall
pole with two embroidered clothes, representing the serpents, is
erected. As this festival is celebrated to mark the death of the
serpents, it is also called Bisyau Jatra, meaning slaying of the
serpents. It is also known as the festival of the New Year because it
begins from the end of Chaitra to the beginning of Baisakh.
Ghode Jatra is celebratedduring Chaitra ( March – April), is another
festival that unites all the people of the valley. Though there is no
religious background for the display, it is believed that a demon spirit
was buried under Tundikhel and the horse parade ensures that it does
not return from the burial site.
Newars from the valley involve in gatherings or parties during this
festival. The festival is noticeable by various parades, athletics,
acrobats etc. performed by the Nepalese army in Tundikhel which a number
of high ranking officials of the country attend. Bhadrakali,
Kankeswari, and Bhairav are deties worshipped during the day.
Gai Jatra is a festival celebrated with a number of events full of
humor, satire, jokes, etc. as it is legally allowed to make jokes about
anything and anyone that day. A number of magazines, Tv shows, and
theatre plays show comical plots.
The Historical origin of this festival, according to evidence, is that
after the death of his son, King Pratap Malla was very worried about his
queen who was heartbroken. So, he announced that every family who had
lost a member would join procession to showcase the symbols of dead
family members in the form of Cows.
People in the demonstration are dressed ridiculously to make funny faces
and jokes so that people would forget the grief of losing their loved
Rato Machhindranath Jatra is one of the most major festivals in
Patan. An entire chariot is erected from the wood and bamboo from chosen
forests of the country having religious importance.
The festival in originated by a Paaneju priest placing the idol of Rato
Machindranath inside the chariot. As Rato Machhindranath is a divine
being worshipped by many Hindus and Buddhists in the valley, the chariot
is carried through a number of places in and around Lalitpur including
Gabahal, Sundharaaa, and Lagankhel.
Rato Machhindranath is also worshipped as Padmapani Lokeshwor,
Avalokiteshvara and Aryavalokitesvara and Karunamaya.He is believed to
have been brought from Assam when Kathmandu valley was suffering from a
long drought. He blessed the valley with rain then and is still
worshipped to welcome the rainy season and rain in the season.
Indra Jatra is the festival celebrated to honor Lord Indra, the God
of rain. It is celebrated for 8 days, mainly in the Kathmandu Durbar
Square. It was started by King Gunakamdev after setting the city of
Kathmandu in the 10th century. Kumari Rath Yatra was later added to the
celebration in the 18th century.
The history behind the festival states that when Lord Indra was fetching
night jasmine from Kathmandu for his mother, he was captured and held
captive by the locals. Once they realized they had captured Lord Indra,
they were scared and immediately released him. Indra’s mother blessed
the city for releasing her son. It is believed that Kathmandu receives
enough dew even in winter months for cultivation because of the
The festival starts with the formation of a pole called Yasin, which is
made from a single tree with stripped branches and bark. The procession
route in the historic parts of the city includes peoplr lighting incense
and candles as reverence to their deceased family members.
The other attraction of the Jatra is the Kumari Jatra which includes
chariots of Goddess Kumari, Bhairav, and Ganesh being pulled across
different parts of the city accompanied by mascots and musical bands.
Different Bhairavs are exhibited during the festival while Pulu kisi (
elephant dance), Majipa Lakhey, Sawa Bhakku, Devi Pykhan, Mahakali
pykhan are the various dance forms performed during Indra Jatra.
Thus, Nepal is steeped in myths and legends. More than a hundred
festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Every little gesture has a
deep meaning behind it. Exploring all this is very interesting, but to
mention them all in one article is impossible.
Therefore, only a select few of all the festivals of Nepal are mentioned here.
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