MAJOR FESTIVAL OF NEPAL

MAJOR FESTIVAL OF NEPAL

Nepal is a culturally diversified country, where different castes and culture peoples lived together with peace and harmony. Anyone can feels and explore the different diversity by geographically, ecologically, socially, culturally and many more. From the southern plains of the Terai to the world’s highest peaks in the North, Nepal is home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, speaking their own languages, following their own history, cultures, tradition and their own festivals. They possess their ancient norms and values. Although Nepal is a home for every religion, majority of people are Hindus and then Buddhists. With the diversity come huge celebrations and dimensions of festivals and their culture.  Besides the so many religious practices, there is more to Nepal’s claim to a rich heritage and pride. A wide variety of festivals are celebrated in Nepal with specific importance and they include:

1.Dashain: Dashain is the longest and auspicious festival of Nepal which is celebrated on the occasion of victory over evil. It is celebrated in month of kartik (last week of September month -first week of October Month. It is celebrate for 15 days where Dashain start from Ghatasthapana. In ghatasthapana people sow seeds of corn in a tiny vessel filled with clay and water. The vessel is put in the prayer room. People pray to the Goddess Durga every morning. The Goddess Durga is prayed for nine days during the festival. In the 10th day we call dashami, in this special day we took tika on our forehead and take blessing by the elders one. In this time all the offices will be closed so every body get time to interact with their relatives and they can share their love and sorrow. Many people travels their relatives houses to put tika. Taking a tika goes till the Chaturdarshi which is the last day of dashain. The major attractions of dashain are vibrant environment, clear weather; sky filled with colorful kites, gathering of Relatives, children’s with joys, crowded markets, flying kites competitions, delicious food, drinks and beautiful clothes, joy, entertainment add more flavor to this festival.

Tihar or Deepawali: Tihar is the festival of light which falls on the month of November and it is celebrated on the occasion of victory of good over bad. It is another biggest festival of hindu people after dashain. This festival celebrates for 5 days, first day we called Kaag Tihar in this day we worshiped crow.we worshiped crows by offering foods and sweet. The cawing of crows symbolizes sadness and grief in Hinduism, so devotees offer crows and ravens food to avert grief and death in their homes. We call Kukur Tihar for second day, in this day we worshiped god because we believed that dog is an messenger of lord Yamaraj (god of death) it also shows the mutual relation between dog and human beings. Third day we call it Laxmi Pooja, in this day we worshiped goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth and good fortune) and cow. we signifies that cow as goddess Laxmi, In this day day people decorated their house with full of garland of marigold. People gather at one place to play “Deusi” by performing different cultural dances and etc. On the fourth day we call it Govardhan pooja, in this day we worship the ox. On the fifth or last day of the festival is called ‘Bhai tika’, brothers take tika from their sisters giving blessing that her brother’s longer life and strength to face and overcome any evil and also share love and sorrow with each other.

Holi : According to Hindu Mythology, during the reign of King Hiranyakasyapur entire people of the kingdom were prohibited from worshipping Lord Vishnu but his own son, Pralhad, was great devotee of lord Vishnu. King assigned his sister, Holika, who had the power of emitting fire, to burn Pralhad to death. She took Pralhad into her lap intending to burn him but with Lord Vishnu’s immortal blessings, instead she was burnt to ashes. That very day was celebrated as Fagu Poornima or Holi. From that day onwards on every 25th March Hindus celebrate Holi as a victory of good over evil. People from every age and caste enjoy Holi in Nepal with color, water, delicious food, music and dance. People fill up balloons with water and throw at each other but in Terai it is celebrated a day later. They paint each other with different colors making different symbols and pour buckets of water over one another. Holi Festival is a day of indulging oneself to extreme moments of complete pleasure.

Maha Shivaratri: Maha Shivaratri is a festival in which lord Shiva is worshipped and prayed. This takes place on 8th of March. Hindus from all over the world unite to lord Shiva temple “Pashupatinath” to pay their tribute and believe that his almighty will forgive all of their sins. The temple will showcase a worth watching crowd of devotees and naked sadhus with bodies covered with ash and people lined up in thousands. Majority of Hindus take fasting not even a drop of water till praying is finished. In the evening they worship Lord Shiva with all the necessary puja items.                                                                                                                                     Buddha Jayanti: Buddha Jayanti is another festival celebrated by Buddhists and Hindu too on 23rd of May. The festival is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Buddha, who was born in Lumbini. People in Kathmandu visit Swayambunath, Boudhnath and other stupas to pay their homage to Buddha. Lumbini is beautifully decorated with amazing decorations. Buddhists from all over the world gather here to celebrate the occasion.

Krishna Aasthami: Krishna Aasthami is the day of celebrating Lord Krishna’s birthday. It is celebrated on 26th August. Devotees gather around Krishna temple, offer their prayers and worship the lord with puja item.

Teej: Teej is a very important festival for both Nepali married and single women and is celebrated on September. Married women put on their bridal red sari with makeup to look stunningly beautiful. 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 even sacrificing water for the entire day. Hindu belief has it that if single women please Lord Shiva, they will have good husband. This day is complete women’s day they sing, dance and share their happiness and sorrows with each other.

Christmas: Christians of Nepal celebrates Christmas on 25th December. It brings together lost family together. A Christmas tree is glamorized with different decorative items like ribbons bulbs, etc. Children are led to believe that Santa Claus has left their gifts hidden under the Christmas tree and bring them some gifts. They sing, dance, enjoy great cuisine and have blast of entertainment and children’s wishes are fulfilled by their parents. After receiving gifts family members sit together for lavish dinner. Turkey is the special menu for the day.

Father’s DayGokarna Aunsi i.e. Father’s day is a special day for Nepali. On 3rd September Nepalese offer their fathers with gifts including sweets, food, fruits, clothes and so on as an expression of love and respect. Fatherless Nepalese visit Gokarna and there they take a bath in the holy river and performs some rituals with priest in the name of their father to help their fathers soul rest in heaven and live in peace.

Mother’s Day: Mother’s day in Nepal falls at 8th of May. During this festival Nepalese gift their mothers with sweets, fruits, clothes and jewelries as a token of their love and affection. Motherless Nepalese go to holy place called as Mata Tirtha where they take bath and offer alms of rice, pulses and coins to the priests in the name of their mothers. A mela is also held at Mata Tirtha where one can have quality time whole day.

Losar:Lhosar iNew Year for Sherpa’s and Tibetans. Sherpa, Tamang and the people from the Tibetan origin celebrate the festival in February to welcome their New Year. Buddhist monks perform dances and offer prayers for good health and prosperity at monasteries. People exchange various goods and gifts among them, wear finest clothes and Jewelleries. Buddhist families also host feasts and perform dances. Swayambunath and Boudhnath temples are filled with crowds.

Naya Barshaa/ New Year: 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. It is believed that what good you do on this day will return in your favour.

Shree Panchami is the festival celebrated and devoted in the name of Learning Goddess, Saraswati. It falls in January-February of each year in Nepal. The festival hugely celebrated by worshiping the goddess Saraswati at different temples across the country. Huge gathering is seen at Swayambunath where devotee line up for celebrating this festival and worshipping goddess. It is also known as Basant Panchami and denotes the beginning of spring season. Parents start formal education of their children from this very day as it is believed that whoever starts learning is blessed by goddess Saraswati.

Maghe shakranti is the festival celebrated in the name of lord Vishnu which falls on 1st of month Magh (between Jan and Feb) according to Nepali calendar. It is the day when the sun enters into the southern hemisphere resulting longer and warmer days. On this day people take an early morning in a holy river visit temples of Vishnu, read Bhagwat Gita, apply mustard oil over their bodies and enjoy the feast of rice cooked with lentils, yams, sweets made of sesame and jiggery. Mother and elderly people in house put Tikas to other junior member of family and blessings are also granted. This is also celebrated as  new year by the Tharu community. They perform different types of dance and prepare delicious food to enjoy their festival.

National Democracy Day is celebrated on this 7th of Falgun, usually on the third week of February. It is also known as Rastriya Prajatantra Diwas celebrated to commemorate the day when Nepalese were free from the clutches of 104 Years long Rana Autocracy. People and the then ruler king Tribhuvan united to topple the autocratic regime on this very day in 2007 BS. It was the day when democracy was first institutionalized in the country. On this special occasion government holiday is provided to all of the staffs to celebrate the day by paying tribute to known and unknown martyrs during that period. A special function is organized to mark the day in Army pavilion, Tudikhel.

Chaite Dahsain is one of the two Dahsain celebrated by Hindus. It falls on the month of Chaitra (Before Nepal’s New Year). It is also known as small Dashain and is cerebrated by sacrificing animals by the army in the courtyard of Hanumandhoka, putting tikas by elders of family to their children, etc. Western visitors are allowed to view from balcony overlooking the courtyard, with a splendid view of all the galore. This festival has two days of celebration. First day is Ram Nawami (The birth day of Lord Rama) and second day is Dashami i.e. Chaite Dashain.

Ram Nawami is celebrated by Hindu people throughout the country to celebrate the birth day of lord Ram, the king of Ayodhya, according to the epic Ramayan. The festival usually falls on the month of April just a day before Chaite Dashain. Huge celebration is made on temples dedicating to lord Rama. A special festival is organized in Ram Janakitemple in Janakpur to mark this festival. It is widely celebrated in India too as the day when victory over evil was accomplished.

Rato Machhendranath is a god of rain which Hindu regards him as the reincarnation of Lord Shiva where Buddhist regard as the Tantric reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara and its temple sits at southern part of Patan Durbar Square. The chariot procession of Rato Machhendranath is one of the most colourful festival celebrate in the country celebrated by both Hindu and Buddhist. It is often called as ‘Bhoto Jatra’. Locals pull the chariot of Rato Machhendranath from Pulchowk though different through fares of Patan to Jawlakhel which the festival is climaxed by a special ritual called ‘Bhoto Dekhaune Jatra’. The officials of Guthi Sansthan display the antique Bhoto from the top of chariot in the presence of president, Prime Minister, Ministers and other dignitaries. The festival takes place on different days in the month of Bhaisakh (March-April)

Buddha Jayanti is a major festival of Nepal which is celebrated by both Buddhist and Hindu followers alike. It falls on the full moon day of Bhaisakh (April-May. It is the festival dedicated to Lord Gautam Buddha who was born here in Nepal. This festival marks the birthday, the day of enlightenment and the day of death of Lord Buddha. Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, host thousands of devotees and pilgrimages here with prayers of peace and enlighten. Thousands of devotee’s parade in the streets, stupas, Gompas, Swayambunath, Boudhanath, Namo Buddha, etc, with propagating the message of peace. The festival is celebrated throughout the country.

Udhauli festival is celebrated by Kirat, Rai and Limbu during the season of farming in the month of April/May. It is celebrated to worship the land and the nature with a ‘Seuli’ (small branch fill of leaves). Every year Ubhouli is celebrated on Bhaisakh Sukla Purnima. It is on same day of Bhuddha Purnima or Bhuddha Jayanti. The literal definition of Udhauli is the migration of animals and birds towards higher and cooler northern region. Festival shows the inter-relation between human and nature.

Nag Panchami is celebrated by worshipping snake god or Naga celebrated hugely among Hindus. It is not only celebrated in Nepal but also in India on the 5th day of bright half of Lunar month of Shrawan (July/August). It is believed that in the ancient times Naga halted rain from pouring over Nepal. So, the king at that time used his tantric power to make Naga happy and rain started pouring in Nepal. From the very day it was celebrated as Nag Panchami every year. On this especial day Nag, Cobra and Snakes are worshiped with milk, sweets, Flower, Lamps and even sacrifices. The interesting part is that people stick a picture of Nag high above their doorway and perform Puja.

Janaipurnima/Rakshya Bandhan is the sacred thread festival of Hindus especially performed by Brahmin and Chhetri. It is festival celebrated on a full moon day with chants of powerful Gayatri Mantra and changes their Janai or sacred thread. On this holy day food called Kwati is taken. Kwati is a soup is prepared from nine different kinds of beans. It is really special delicacy, hot food, which is very good for health. Same day it falls the festival of Rakshyabandhan which is celebrated by tying a red or yellow protection thread around the writs of Hindus. Pilgrims visit to a sacred lakeGosainkunda and pray Lord Shiva by bathing in the lake. Gosainkunda hosts great gathering of Lord Shiva Devotees and often called as Gosainkunda Mela. You can see prayers and rituals with the spirits of Lord Shiva among devotees.

Gaijatra is one of the most colourful festivals of Nepal which is full of entertainment but carrying great cultural values. This festival is the festival of Cow celebrated in Kathmandu among Hindus. The festival usually falls in the month of August and is celebrated in memory of the departed souls. The festival is organized mostly by the people of Newar community.People carry out a procession of funny characters in memory of their kith and kin. In recent days the day has also developed as an occasion to crack jokes and satires on different distortions in the society. Interesting political satires are the major features of such programmers. But the present form of Gaijatra is a happy blending of antiquity and the medieval era.

Indra Jatra is the festival dedicated to lord Indra, God of rain and King of heaven. The festival which usually falls in the month of August-September is observed with great enthusiasm and fanfare in Kathmandu valley. It is celebrated for eight days where the festival begins with the erection of a ceremonial pole at the Kathmandu durbar square the chariot passion of living Goddess Kumari, Ganesh and Bhairav is organized to mark this day. The festival culminates with the worship of Goddess Kumari Ganesh and Bhairab by the president of Nepal. This is a colorful festival full of fun, mass gathering, unity of relatives, traditional costumes and foods, cultural music, jokes and political satire and lots more. The most interesting dance in this festival is Lakhe dance, famous masked dance in the country which adds another major attraction in this festival.

Nepal Sambat: According to the legends a citizen of Kathmandu named Sankhadharsakhwa paid off the debts of all the people in Nepal. To commemorate this event a new era was established known as Nepal Sambat. Newar communities from all over the country mark the New Year or Nepal Sambat with different festivities and cultural programs. The Nepal Sambat follows the lunar calendar and it consists of 354 days per year and an added one month every third year.

Chhat Parva is the most important festival for people living in Terai regions. It is a grand festival dedicated to the Sun (Surya according to Hindu). Sun is the god of energy as well as god of life force so this festival is celebrated to promote well being, progress and prosperity. It is performed in order to thank sun for sustaining life on earth and to request certain wishes.  It is hugely celebrated in Janakpur as well as in the rest of the country by the Maithili speaking people.  This festival is marked for four days worshipping the rising and setting sun. Molasses and taste them after an audience to the moon. They take a dip in Ganga Sagar, the famous lake of the area. People believe that by worshipping the sun would help cure the diseases like leprosy and bring longevity and prosperity to their family member.

Bala Chaturdasi is an important festival in Nepal which is celebrated by both Hindu and Buddhist. The festival is grandly held at Pashupatinath Temple every year between late November and early December. The festival is to appease the souls of the dead for any wrong things committed against them while they were still alive. The rites of this Chaturdasi are in honor of Bala a cremation site laborer who accidentally ate a piece of burnt flesh and became a demon addicted to cannibalism. The festival begins at the dusk of the evening prior with devotees assembling in the vicinity of Pashupatinath for the all night vigil. Bathing and ceremonies begins at the dawn followed by a long 2-3 hours procession through a rough course over which the participants scatter grains while paying homage to Lord Shiva. This continues until a horn sounds the termination in the evening.

Bivaha Panchami is a special day in Nepal as well as in India when Princess Sita of Janakpurdham of Nepal got married to the Prince of Ayodhya Ram Chandra. So, it is the festival celebrated in the remembrance of the wedding of Ram and Sita. Each year day, idols of Ram and Sita are brought out in procession and their wedding ceremony is re-enacted during a week-long religious fair. The marriage anniversary of Lord Ram Chandra and Goddess Sita is celebrated in Janaki Mandir at Janakpurdham which hosts thousands of people from India and Nepal. The temple is decorated as the wedding Palace, idols of Sita and Ram are also decorated as bride and groom and religious ceremonies are also carried out. Janakpur hosts big fair and people are seen buying and selling things as well as surfing the fair. Bivaha Panchami reflects the devotion of Hindus to Ram perhaps the most popular among the incarnations of Vishnu and to Sita the model of the ideal Hindu women.

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