10 Greatest Festivals of Nepalese: Nepal is a land locked country in the world. It is situated in South Asia. Its total area is 1, 47,181 sq.km. Nepal is a small country situated between two large countries of Asia, India and China. Nepal is a common home of people of different communities with ethnic group and culture. Their customs, religions and language are different. In Nepal there is unity in diversity.
Nepal is not only the land of mountains and nature; it is also the land of festivals. There are more than 60 festivals celebrates in Nepal every year. All the national festivals are fixe according to dates and religious festivals are set by astrologers following the lunar calendar. And the best part about the festivals in Nepal is that all the ceremony are celebrating with the same devotion and galore the way it use to be celebrates in hundreds of years ago when people had no other means of entertainment.
Inside the 10 Greatest Festivals of NepaleseDashain is the greatest festival of Nepal Hindus. Like other festivals, it is also based on the lunar clendar and falls in the months of Aswin or Kartik (from mid September to mid November). Dashain is celebrates for 15 days from the new moon day (Ghatasthapana) to the full moon day (Kojagrat Purnima). It is a festival of great delight, enthusiasm and rapture and accomplishment. The time of Dashain is very fine.
The weather is fair and mild. There is no more mud or dust. Farmers are getting happiness from their tiring season of plantations and weddings. Schools, colleges, factories and Gov. offices remain close. Ripening and rustling crops, fair and pleasant weather, busy roads and paths, crowded shops, speedy renovations and cleanliness of roads, temples, taps, etc. and decorations all symbolize the arrival of the greatest festival.
Dashain celebrates the inevitable victory of virtune over vice, of truth over untruth and of justice over injustice. The tenth day known as Vijayadashami is the main day of the greatest festival. On this day, people take red tika, jamara from their elders and receive blessings. Rato tika (mixture of red vermillion powder and curd) is the symbol of both fortune and victory in Hindu culture. Dashain is also the occasion of family gatherings and feasts people forget their differences and misunderstandings and visit their relatives.
The Nepali second big festival Tihar is also known by many name Diwali or Deepawali. Tihar is the second gretest festival celebrated after Dashain in Nepal. This festival is celebrates for five-day in late autumn. It has its unique ways of celebration. During this festival, people will honour animal and birds like crows, dogs, cows and as well as goddess ofs of wealth and luck. On the last day, brothers are greetes and blesse by the sisters and sisters.
As numerous candles and festive lanterns will be lit up for the Goddess of Laxmi, Tihar is also well-known as the festival of lights. The crow and the dog are regarded as the messenger of the Yama, the God of Death. The first two day observes their worship. On the third day , (Gai Tihar) cow is worships in the morning and Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth is worships in the evening. It is a belief that goddess Laxmi would bring fortune to the worshiper. On the fourth day, oxen are worshipped in much the same way as the cows and dogs.
Some, though not all Hindus, worship toward Goverdhan mountain on this day and make a “mini-mountain” of cow dung to represent it.. On the day, Newar community people perform a self-worship ceremony called Mha Pooja. On the occasion, people worship oneself and celebrate by eating special Newari delicious cuisine and drinks.
The Newar community also celebrates their new year on the day. Every house, buildings and temples are graced by the rows of light, usually the traditional Nepali lamp (diyo) of twisted cotton wick in a small clay bowl of mustard oil. The last day of Tihar is called as Bhai Tihar,usually known as Bhai Tika. On this day, sisters pray to the god Yama (God of death) for the long and prosperous life of their brothers. Tihar is celebrated with lights, lighting the butter lamp everywhere in the house. Children and elder enjoy fire crackers; go door to door singing Deusi and Bhailo.
3) Buddha Jayanti
Buddha Purnima’ is also known as ‘Buddha Jayanti’. The Buddha Purnima is celebrates to memorialize the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautam Buddha, the three important events in the life of Buddha. It is celebrated on the full moon night in April or May and Vaisakha month according to the Hindu calendar.
Buddha Jayanti is considered as the Thrice Blessed Festival, on this specific day Lord Buddha was born in 623 BC, his enlightenment or attainment of supreme wisdom in 588 BC and his attended Parinirvana in Kushinagar (death of Buddha) at the age of 80. Buddha Jayanti is a detailed occasion and Buddhist monasteries all around the world resound with sermons, prayers and recitals of Buddhist scriptures throughout the day in front of a statue of Lord Buddha. This festival is celebrated throughout South-East Asia. The festival is celebrates by the Buddhists. It is the most holy time for devotees in the Buddhist calendar.
Buddha Purnima is also known as Vaisakha Puja in India. During this day Buddhist devotees make donations to the temple. People gather into large groups to parade through the streets while chanting prayers Om Mani Padme hum” which means to “Hail to the jewel in the lotus” to the Lord Buddha to thank him for all his honest provisions. On this day the Buddhists devotees take bathe and wear only white clothes. They offer Incense, flowers, candles and fruits to the statue of the Buddha. Every year people from all over the world travel to visit the Mahabodhi tree, the site where Buddha attained enlightenment. Colored flags are tied to the tree and fruit and candle offered there.
4) Gai Jatra
Gaijatra is a one of popular festival in Nepal. It is celebrated by the Newar community in the month of August with great excitement and enthusiasm especially in Kathmandu valley. Gaijatra is the festival of national animal cow. In Nepalese language cow is known as Gai and festival is known as jatra. It is believe that this festival is celebrated for clearing the route to heaven for the deceased family member.
In the early morning, local Newars give a bath to the cow, especially cleaning their tails. Then the cows are decorated with red Tika and beautiful garlands. After finishing those rituals, the cow processions begin to parade around the whole Kathmandu valley. If the cow is not available, young boys will dress up as cows to pray for the dead. During the boisterous marches, they will deliberately walk through the temples, the statues of the gods and other sacred places.
When the parades pass by, many people will offer the food, gift and petty cash to the cow owners and the cow, a boy dress as a cow. It’s believs that this kind of giving will bring them good luck in the following days. On this day people also have fun as they dress up in comic way. The political and social problems are mocks publicly. Although Gaijatra is celebrates in all three districts of Kathmandu valley including Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, It is enjoys whole day in Bhaktapur in high spirits and in different ways.
Besides sending a child dress as a cow around the city, different other things are dose in Bhaktapur. On this day they performs their special stick dance called “Ghintang Ghising”. During Gaijatra festival varieties of shows are staged for the whole week and people are thoroughly entertained in the process. It is believed that Gaijatra started from the period of King Pratap Malla who had lost an only son. This loss caused great sorrow to the queen that she gone to depression and stopped laughing.
So the king decided to make his beloved wife happy again. He ordered his people to take out a procession from each house who had lost their family member that year so queen can understand she was not only one who lost beloved one. He also ordered them during this festival have as much fun as possible so that the queen would laugh. Finally, when the people took out the procession, the queen realized that lot of people had lost their dear ones just like she lost her son. This parade really helped to console the queen and the satires against the problems were so funny she burst into laughter. Since then the festival has been celebrated every year with the same enthusiasm.
5) Janai Purnima
The Janai Purnima is one of the religious and a cultural festival which is usually celebrates in early August in Nepal. Janai Purnima, mostly know as Janai Purne and also known as Kwati Purne, Srawani Purnima, Rishi Purnima and Raksha Bandhan is one such festival which very magnanimous.
Janai Purnima, the Sacred Thread Festival. In this festival hindu men, especially the Brahmans and Chettris to perform their annual change of Janai worn across the chest. This thread is gives to males during a religious ceremony calls the ‘Bratabandhan’. The ‘triple cord’made of cotton is a symbol of body, speech and mind, and when the knots are tied the wearer is suppose to gain complete control over each.
However, this is also the day of Rakshya Bandhan when male, females, and children regardless of station and caste tie a sacred yellow thread around their wrist. Raksha means ‘protection’ and Bandhan means a bond, which is suppose to bring good vibes to the wearer and if tied to the tail of a cow in Laxmi Puja. It is believe that once the wearer dies, the cow will help him to cross the river Bhaitarni, by allowing the dead to cling to her tail.
This festival is very much popular among the Hindus. Janai Purnima is also referres to as Raksha Bandhan and on this day sisters tie Rakhi on the wrist of their brothers and pray for their brothers long life with a share of the responsibility of their potential care.. Brothers, in turn, give them return gifts and vows to protect and care for them lifelong. So it is called Raksha Bandhan.
On this day mostly the Newar community cook a special food called Kwati, a soup of nine-mixed-beans – Black-eye Peas, Cow Peas, Black Lentils, Mung, Peas, Rajmas, Chickpeas, Soybeans and eaten with wheat-bread (chapati). Newar farmers offer different food items to frogs on this day. They considered frog as an agent of the God of rainfall. So, it’s believes that by worshiping the frog and making offerings of different food items help to increase the production of crops.
Teej is the fasting and greatest festival of women in Nepal. It is celebrates in the month of August or early September. Married women observe Teej fast to honor Lord Shiva and for long and healthy life of their beloved husband. Unmarried girls also observe fast on this day for a good husband like Lord Shiva. Teej celebrations last for three pious days. They perform Traditional dances and songs which is form an important feature of Teej celebrations.
Everyone wears new clothes especially Red color cloths which are considere auspicious for women observing Teej fast. Usually most of them dress up in red color clothes. On this day, women dress up beautifully. They clad themselves in red colored apparels, wear glass bangles, heavy ornaments and apply henna. Teej gives women an opportunity to dress like the newly wed. The monsoon festivals of Teej are dedicates to Goddess Parvati and her union with her husband, Lord Shiva. They celebrates this festival for longevity and prosperity for their husband and family.
According to mythology Goddess Parvati is said to have gose through severe reparation and took 107 birth on the earth to finally unite with Siva. Water less fast and sleepless night spents by women folk are symbolic of Parvati’s hardship to get love. The first day of this festival Teej is known as the ‘Dar Khane Din’. On this day, the women gather at one place and perform traditional dance and sing devotional songs. A special food called ‘dar’ is eaten. The celebrations continue till midnight after which the 24-hour-long fast begins. The second or the fasting day of the Teej festival is dedicate to pujas and prayers. Some women keep fast without food and drops of water while others take liquid and fruit.
Consequently, the fasting is attended by both married and unmarried women. They dress colorfully and visit a nearby Shiva temple. After worshiping god they start singing and dancing on the way and temple area. During this festival almost every Shiva temple get full by devotee but the Pashupatinath Temple gets the highest number of devotees.
Teej Festival is one of best in 10 Greatest Festivals of Nepalese
At the temple, women circumnavigate the Shiva Lingam, which symbolizes Lord Shiva, offers the praying with flowers, sweets and coins. The third and final day of the Joyous Festival of Hindu Nepali Women it’s call Rishi Panchami. On this day, the seven sages of the seven saints Sapta Rishi, Vashishta, Kasyapa, Atri, Bharadvaja, Vishwamitra, Gautama and Jamadagni are worships by women in a belief that it will cleanse all sins of the previous year.
Likewise, women take a holy bath with red mud found on the roots of the sacred Datiwan bush, along with its leaves. After three hours of rigorous cleansing, they come out purified and relieve from all sins. After purifying them shelf they sit in a semicircle while a priest sitting in the middle chants devotional prayers. Teej festival is also allows women full freedom of expression.
Consequently, women have traditionally used this occasion to express their pains and misery in the songs they sing while dancing. With the advancement of communication and awareness, women these days use this occasion to voice their concerns about social issues, discrimination and domestic violence against women.
7) Shree Krishna Janmashtami
Krishna Janmashtami’ is one of the holiest festivals of Hindu religion. According to the hindu tradition, Krishna Janmashtami is celebrates as the birthday of Lord Krishna. In hindu mythology Lord Krishna is regarded as the 8th avatar or ‘incarnation’ of Lord Vishnu. This festival is hugely celebrates throughout the country.
The festival is observes on eighth day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapad (august or September) as per Hindu calendar. Lord Krishna is regards as one of the great lords in Nepal. Krishna Janmasthami, also known as Krishna Janmasthami or gokulasthami On Krishna Janmashtami numerous devotees flock to the ancient Krishna temple in old Patan Durbar Square to keep vigil through the glorious night of his birth.
Moreover, a crowd of many devotes including both men and women edge their way slowly up narrow steps. They seated to the temple’s dark interior to where the main idol stands. There devotes offer flowers, coins and food and wait for a glimpse of idol of lord Krishna. After the temple priest gives them ‘prasad’ (religious offering) they make their way down to join the multitude of devotees in the streets.
The Holi is a festival of colours which every year celebrates the people of Hindu religion (March) in the month of Falgun. The festival is celebrates with colors, water, sweets, balloons and music. People put different color on each other as a token of love. People go houses of relatives and friends in group to celebrate this festival. They put colors on each other eat sweets and play music and dance whole day.
People in Terai celebrate Holi the next day after Kathmandu Valley and other hilly reason of Nepal. On this day, most of offices remain closed. The whole Kathmandu valley is engage in the festival atmosphere. Whether people know each other or not, they’ll be spray’s with color powder and water. Some people organize picnic and musical concert to celebrate holli with family and relatives.
Hance, this day people goes to temple to worship lord Vishnu. In the Kathmandu Valley, Fagu Poornima starts with the raising of the Chir pole in front of Kumari House in Basantapur. The pole is bring down, dragges to Tudikhel and burnt to cinders. The ashes are carried home by devotees as it is believes it will provide them protection against evil.
After all, this festival was originally celebrates within a Hindu mythology. King Hiranyakashipu was so arrogant who commands everybody in his kingdom to worship him and didn’t allow people to worship Lord Vishnu. However, Prince Prahlada was an ardent devotee of Vishnu and openly opposed his father. This enraged Hiranyakashipu.
Since then, the king ordered his sister Holika’s was burn the prince on the full moon night. Under the blessing of God Vishnu, Prahlada was unscathed while Holika was burn into ashes. After that Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Narshima and killed the demon, King. Since Holika was destroyed, the festival is named after her and celebrated as the victory of God over evil.
9) Maghe Sankranti
In the 10 Greatest Festivals of Nepalese, Maghe Sankranti is occur in the first day of month of Magh of Bikram Sambat (midJanuary). It marks the coming of warmer weather after winter season and better days of health and fortune. It is also consider as important festival in Nepal. The festival, also known as Makar sankranti in or Maghi. It’s celebrates with great joy all over Nepal among hindu community.
Alike every festival in Nepal, maghe sankranti also has its own story behind its celebration. Hindu devotes worshipped lord Mahadev with a belief that it would bring good supply of food and wealth. On this day people take holy bath in holy rivers like triveni, Shankhamool, Dolalghat, Bagmati or any other religious rivers in Nepal.
However, rather having busy schedule family gather together and eat special foods like ghee, chaaku , tarul , teel ladoos (sesame ladoo), etc. These foods are eats as to make ourselves warm from inside on winter of January. Families gather together for the celebration. Daughters and son in laws are also invites for lunch. People belonging to Newar community massage their body and head with sesame oil as a belief that it would make them strong and warm from inside.
The Maghe sankranti is also the biggest festival of Tharu community in Nepal. Tharu community is commonly residing terai region of Nepal. They celebrate Maghe sankranti as ‘Maghi’. In Tharu community, maghi is consideres as the new of a year. In this dayTharu community people organized mela in Tundikhelwhere Tharu People put different food stall, shop also cultural program resembling tharu cultur and tradition. People from different community participate in this mela and get to know about tharu community through this mela.
10) Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri is greatest festival of hindu community mainly celebrates on month of falgun (February/March). Likewise many other festival of nepal, there are also many stories behind the celebration of Shivaratri. One of them is, during Samundra Manthan, the poison Halahal came out of the ocean. It started creating destruction all over.
To protect the world from the devastation Lord Shiva drank the poison and managed to keep it in his throat. Lord shiva protected the world from the dangerous poison. For this reason, people started celebrating the day as Shivaratri and thanking Shiva for shaving the world. It is believes Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati on this day. In some places, Shivaratri is consideres as marriage anniversary of Shiva-Parvati .
In Shivaratri Pashupatinatha temple has a big possession. On this days, Hindu devotees from all over Nepal and all over Southeast Asia visit Pashupatinath. Large number of Shadus from al over the world comes to Pashupatinath for this occasion. Different types of Shadus you can see around Pashapupati and its surroundings.
Shiva devotees observe whole day and night fasting. Shiva Linga pooja is dose in the night by chanting mantras, offering Beal leaf and pouring water on the linga. Fireplace is set in temples at night time to make Lord Shiva warm. Children go in search of wood to set holly fire singing “Shivaji lai jado bhayo aago deu”. (Shivaji is feeling cold, give some fire). In villages and towns big driftwood are burnt in places and people sing Shiva bhajans the whole night.