Festivals

Festivals Details 12 Months Times –Enjoy And Entertain in Nepal

Nag Panchami (Aug)

On this day Snakes (Nagas) are honored, since it is believed that they possess all sorts of magical power, especially power over monsoon rain. Pictures of the Nagas are hung over the doorways of houses and this not only propitiates the snakes but also keeps harm away from the household.

Gai Jatra (Cow festival, Aug-Sep)

This festival of cow is celebrated every year in August/September. This is one of the most popular festivals in Nepal as it is full of humor, satire, comedy, mockery and shades of sadness too at the same time. And on this day satires and jokes on anybody is legal. As per the tradition, the family who has lost a relative during the past one year must take part in a procession by sending young boys in cow like attire and walk through the streets of Kathmandu lead by a cow. Cow is regarded as a Goddess and it is also the national animal of Nepal. This festival also purges many who have lost their loved ones as they get to console themselves as to they are not the only ones who have been bereaved and it also teaches to accept death as a part of life.

Krishna Janmastami (Aug-Sep)

This is the birthday of Lord Krishna. Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu and his daring exploits; good nature and general of a good time endear him to many people. The famous Krishna temple in Patan is the centre of the celebration and vigil is kept at the temple on the night before his birthday. Oil lamps light the temple and signing continues through out the night in the Patan area.

Teej (Aug-Sep)

This is a Hindu married woman’s day for her man. This festival is celebrated in August/September. Women clad in beautiful red saris with shining potes (glass beads), singing and dancing is the sight almost everywhere in Nepal during the festival of Teej. On this day women observe a fast and pray Lord Shiva for the long, healthy and prosperous life of their husbands and their families. The unmarried women also observe this festival with unabated zeal with the hope that they will get to marry good husbands. From early dawn, women queue up in the multiple lines in Pashupatinath to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.

Indra Jatra (Sept – Oct)

This festival named after Lord Indra- the God of Rain and also the King of Heaven is celebrated by both the Buddhists and Hindus in Nepal in August/September. This festival lasts for eight days with singing, mask dancing and rejoicing. The chariot of Kumari – the Living Goddess is taken through the main streets of Kathmandu with much fanfare.
On the first day, the King of Nepal also pays homage to Goddess Kumari. The crowd of excited people from performers to spectators engulfs the streets of Kathmandu during this festival. People get to enjoy various classical dances like elephant dance, lakhe – a very popular dance of a man with a mask.

Dashain (Vijaya Dashami, Sept – Oct)

During the month of Kartik (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, Dashain. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. It is truly the national festival of Nepal. The change of mood is also induced psychologically by the turn of autumn season after a long spell of monsoon, introducing clear and brilliant days, an azure blue sky and a green carpet of fields, the climate is also just ideal at this time, it is neither too cold nor too warm. The Nepalese cherish their Dashain as time for eating well and dressing well.
The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Thorough out the kingdom of Nepal the goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the ritual holy bathing, thus drenching the goddess for days in blood. Buffaloes, goats, chickens and ducks are killed by the thousands at the temples at military posts and in every household. One of the main centers that witnesses the animal sacrifice in a large scale at this time is the Hanuman Dhoka palace on the ninth. On the concluding day of the festival called the Tika, the elders of the family give Tika to their junior members and to other relatives who may also come to seek their blessings. The fresh shoots of the barley’s are also given. Family feasting and feting of guests is a common practice at this time.

Harishyani/Haribodhini Ekadashi: Top

This Ekadashi is the 11th day of the new moon, and it is a common practice to fast on this day. Therefore, once a fortnight, in principle, Hindus observe a fast. Of all the Ekadashi, the Harishyani and Haribodhini Ekadashi have special significance, and are called the Thuli (Greater) Ekadeshi. On Ekadashi, the seedlings are transplanted to pots or lands being accompanied by religious rites. Traditionally, it is done by men only, not by women.
For four months, beginning with Harishyani Ekadashi, the bright moon of Ashad (June/July), the plant is worshipped with special prayers, arati (butter lamps), circumambulations, and other rituals. During the month of Kartik (October/ November), on the eleventh day of the bright moon (called Haribodhani Ekadashi), the basil plant is married to the Shaligram, a fossil found in the Kali Gandaki river. Three days later, devotees offer one thousand basil’s leaves to a sacred river or water.

Tihar (Deepawali, Oct – Nov)

This festival of lights that falls between October/November is the second biggest festival after Dashain. This festival lasts for five days and people worship Lakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the belief that Goddess Lakshmi will enter the house that is the cleanest and people lit candles, oil lamps and other lights and the whole place looks illuminating. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshipped and honored with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans.
Crows are regarded as the messenger that brought news even during the times when there were no postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most obedient animals and they guard our house as true guardians. Cow is also a symbol of wealth in Hinduism and she is also the national animal of Nepal. During Tihar, the Newari community in Nepal also observes Mha puja – a ritual of worshipping one’s own body and life. On this very day, the Newari New Year which is also known as Nepal Sambat begins. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day when his sisters worship him for his long and healthy life to safeguard the lives of his sisters. This is also a gambling time in Nepal as gambling is not illegal during this festival.

Mani Rimdu

Mani Rimdu is a Sherpa festival celebrated during the autumn at the Tengboche Monastery in the Everest region. Lamas and Sherpa gather at the monastery for five days – ‘for the good of the world’. There are plays, masked dances, prayers and feasts. Demons are quelled and the pious are rewarded. The festival is very colorful and ideal to combine with a trekking expedition in the Everest region.

Vibhaha Panchami (Nov – Dec)

Each December, during vibhaha Panchami, the Hindu world re-enacts and celebrates the marriage of Ram to princess Sita, as told in the epic, Ramayana. King Janak (Sita’s father) proposed a test of strength for the suitors of his daughter. To prove their worth, suitors had to string the great bow of Lord Shiva.
Kings, Chieftains and warriors visited from a far but no man could even lift the bow. Ram, however, lifted the bow with ease and when he tried to string it, the bow shattered into pieces. Ram and Sita were married in Janakpur (now in eastern Nepal) and their marriage is celebrated to this day. Each year, idols of Ram and Sita are taken on procession and their marriage re-enacted during a week long religious fair. Vibhaha Panchami reflects the devotion of Hindus to Ram, perhaps the most popular of the incarnations of Vishnu, and to Sita – model of the ideal Hindu woman.

Bala Chaturdarsi (Nov – Dec)

This simple festival day takes place in December at Pashupatinath Temple and in the forested hillside behind. It is one of the oldest traditions in the Kathmandu Valley. Families who have lost a loved one in the last year keep an all-night vigil in the forest, lighting oil lamps and singing songs.
Following a ritual morning bath, people walk through the forest scattering seven types of grain along the paths and over the linga of Lord Shiva to give merit to their late kinsfolk and to cleanse the sins of a mythological man called Bala who had been transformed into a demon.

Yomari Punhi Top 

As the rice crop is gathered in December, farmers in the Kathmandu Valley prepare to give thanks for the harvest during Yomari Punhi. The Yomari is a special cake make from the flour of new rice. A shell of dough is filled with melted raw sugar and sealed. After the cake is steamed, it is presented to the gods as an offering. Later, the Yomari is eaten as blessed food. So it is that each year when the storerooms are full and the farmers’ toil has been rewarded, the gods are thanked for their benevolence and generosity

Mother’s Day (Mata Tirtha Puja)

The Nepalese people have always been family oriented. They take great pride in their ancient tradition of closely-knit family unit. This sort of kinship is not only the result of religious teachings, but also due to various festivals and ceremonies, which brings the family together and strengthens the family ties in the Nepalese society.
Such is the festival of “Mata Tritha Puja” which in English is “Mother’s day”. This festival falls on the last day of the dark fortnight of April or early May. It is a day when one shows appreciation and gratitude to his/her mother for her unconditional love and undying support.
On this day, each house bustles with activities and everyone, regardless of age, participates. There aren’t much religious ceremonies but the fact that it is a day for mothers, calls for celebrations for she is the one who keeps the family together through ups and downs in life. Even the small children dig into their savings to buy gifts for their mothers. Sons and daughters living separately, come with presents and delicacies to spend time with their mother. It is a day of reunion for married daughters with their mothers. The entire day is filled with festivities and merry making.
Those who don’t have a mother pay obeisance to Mata Tirtha, which is a sacred site of pilgrimage and holy bathing. It lies six miles south – west of central Katmandu, consisting of two pools-the larger for bathing and the smaller is famous as the place where one “looks upon one’s mother’s face”.
Legends reveal that in the ancient times the region was ruled by a cowherd king. One of his cowherds was so depressed by his mother’s death that he went to pray and make offerings at a water storage pond in the forest on this day. Miraculously his mother’s face appeared and her hand accepted the offerings. Thus it’s called Mata Tirtha, where many hope to see their mother’s face. A lot of folklores are attached to this site, some of which are tragic. But whatever it maybe, people still believe that paying homage to this site will bring peace to their mother’s departed soul. So for this reason people come from distant places, on this day, to show their reverence. Thus, Mata Tirtha holds a very profound meaning in each person’s life. For a mother, is a figure present in everyone’s life. This day gives each child a chance to show the depth of his/her feelings for her.

Rishi Panchami (Bhadropad Shukl Panchami)

The fast on this day is undertaken by man and women alike. Its effect is to wash away sin done voluntarily or involuntarily. After a bath in the sacred water, clean your hands 108 times, wash your mouth 108 times and listen to the story of Ganesa, Navagreh, Saptarishi and worship Arundati. Eat only fruit one time in the day. Give oblation to the Brahmin. A certain king Sitasale asked Brahma to tell him the fast, which is of utmost bliss and bestows quick result. Brahma replied that Rishi Panchami fast was the one such by virtue of which all sins are washed away. He narrated the story of a virtuous Brahmin Utank of Vidharba region. His wife was a devoted wife Shusila. They had two children, a son and daughter. The daughter was married to a young capable boy, but unfortunately became a widow soon.
The parents made a cottage on the bank of Ganges and lived there with their widow daughter. One day while asleep the ants covered the body of the daughter. The parents were perplexed. The Brahmin through meditation found out that in previous birth, she had entered the kitchen on the day of menstruation. The routine is that on the first day of menstruation, the woman is Chandalini (demon), on second day Brahmdhatini (wizard), on third day a washer woman, and on fourth day after bath, she becomes purified. Women undertaking Rishi Panchami fast do not suffer from attack of worms and in all future births remain happy.