Festivals in Nepal

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Nepal Major Festivals

Nepal is recognized as the land of vivid, colourful festivals. In Nepal, festivals start with something godly as the religion has always been the main focus of the Nepali culture which eventually will turn into an enjoyable family festival. Most of the festivals in Nepal has religious connotations, and some of them are focused on essential events from ancient mythology and epic literature. Nepal is the country which is diverse with a varied climate, abundant wildlife, and people following different culture and religion.

List of 22 Festival Names that are Celebrated in Nepal

S.N Festival Name Nepali Month English Month
1 Maghe sankranti Magh January
2 Lhosar Falgun February
3 Basanta panchmi Magh January
4 Maha Shivaratari Falgun February
5 Holi Magh March
6 Ram Nawami Chaitra April
7 Bisket Jatra Chaitra April
8 Mother’s Day Chaitra April
9 Buddha Jayanti Jestha May
10 EID Jestha May
11 Nag panchami Sawan July
12 Janai Purnima (Rakshya Bandban) Bhadra August
13 Gai Jatra Bhadra August
14 Krishnastami Bhadra August
15 Father’s day Bhadra August
16 Teej Ashoj September
17 Dashain Kartik October
18 Tihar ( Diwali) Kartik October
19 Chhath parva Kartik November
20 Mani Rimdu Mangsir November
21 Christmas Mangsir November
22 New Year Eve Poush December

Each community has its own distinct cultures and traditions that people have maintained for centuries and generation to generation. Nepal celebrates more than 100 festival yearly, and each one of them has their own set of beliefs. Despite these facts, they all come together to celebrate the major festivals of the year. For instance, Dashain and Tihar are one of the most famous festivals of Hindus, which is marked by the whole country without any religious issue. Here are depicted as significant festivals in Nepal. So, read the entire article without wasting any further time.

11 Major Festivals of Nepal

1. Dashain

Dashain Festival

Nepal’s greatest harvest festival Dashain is the period for a family reunion, gifts, blessings, profuse pujas, and sacrifices of various domestic animals. Dashain honours the goddess Durga where hor was made with all the help of other gods armed with weapons from each of them. Lord Durga is given animal sacrifices, symbolizing bravery and strength for the happiness of the devotees.

Dashain has few main days such as Ghatasthapan, Phool Pati, Mahaastami, Nawami and Vijaya Dasami. Finally, on the tenth day, everyone receives Tika from the elder of the house. With that rest of the five days, people go to other elderly homes to get tika and blessings. On the very last day, i.e. 15th day, people celebrate Kojagrat Purnima, which is also the day of the full moon. Grand feast, family meeting, flying a kite, playing swing are some of the major highlights of Dashain festival of Nepal.

Significance- Victory over evil
Key Attraction- 15 long day festival each day signifies various rituals and tradition. Family reunion, exchange of gifts and blessings.
When- Usually falls in the month of Ashoj and Kartik
Where- Nepal/ India

2. Tihar (Diwali)

Tihar Festival

Tihar is also popular as Diwali or Dipawali which is observed for five long days right after Dashain. The first two days of the festival is observed by worshipping crows and cats. Then the third day is followed by worshipping cows. On the fourth day, people worship the goddess of wealth-Laxmi in the house and light all the home with candles and led lights. The same day, oxen are worshipped, and Govardhan puja is done. On the other hand, during the fourth day, the Newar community people observe New Year and practices Mha Puja. On the very last day of Tihar, Bhai Tika falls marking rejoice in the siblings.

Significance- Along with puja of various birds and animals this festival is also known as the festival of light.
Key Attraction- Diyas, garlands, pujas and blessings
When- In the mid of Kartik month as per Nepali calendar.
Where- Nepal/ India

3. Mha Puja

Mha Puja

 

The family of Newar observes Mha Puja on the fourth day of Tihar. As per the Nepali Sambhat, this day is New Year. Newar people belief that Mha Puja is performed to purify and strengthen one’s body and soul while performing the ceremonial puja. Each family members sit in line with mandalas painted in front of them on the floor. They follow different rituals in Mandals and praise the body in which they live in.

Significance- Worshipping oneself to purify and strengthen one’s body and soul
Key Attraction- The kind of Puja performed
When- One of the day during Tihar that falls in the month of Kartik
Where- Nepal

4. New Year (Navavarsha)

Nepali New Year

The Nepali New year is Navavarsha. Nepal has its own calendar which marks the start of the year from the first day of Baisakh. Usually, Baisakh’s first day falls in the second week of April. However, this fact can change as stars move away. The name Baisakh comes from the sun’s celestial position near the Bishakha star. Baisakh’s month is a time when there are many seasonal fruits available, especially jackfruits and mangos. Unlike the Gregorian calendars which start from January, many countries in South Asia use lunisolar calendars beginning the year in spring. Along with Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar are some of the countries that use this technique.

Significance- The first day of the month Baisakh as per the Nepali calendar signifies the start of the year.
Key Attraction- People from different caste and religion celebrates the first day of the year with great enthusiasm.
When- the First Day of the Baisakh month every year.
Where- Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar

5. Mata Tirtha Snan (Mother’s Day)

Mata Tirtha Snan

Mother’s day symbolizes the pure love for mom, living mother’s devotion, and dead mother’s remembrance. Praying for the long life of one’s mother is the main objective of this festival. On this day, Mata Tirtha holds a special Mela situated at Thankot, Kathmandu, Nepal. Mata Tirtha has two bathing point where the lower one is bigger and used for swimming. The smaller upper one is named the “Observing mother’s face” bath because it is assumed or claimed that in the reflection of the water, one could see the head of one’s departed mother. This festival of Nepal also falls in the first month of the Nepali calendar.

Significance- The day is celebrated is the name and remembrance of a mother, praying for a long and prosperous life of a mother.
Key Attraction- On this very day, a special Mela is organized at Mata Tirtha, Thankot, Kathmandu, Nepal
When- First month of Baisakh
Where- Nepal

6. Buddha Jayanti

Buddha Jayanti

Buddha Jayanti signifies the birth of Gautam Buddha’s birth date- the light of Asia. Siddhartha Gautam Buddha was born in 563 BC in Kapilvastu, Lumbini. It is, therefore, an auspicious day not only for the Buddhists but also for people of other religion. During Buddha Purnima, people visit Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Lumbini and other monasteries and stupas. The butter lamps are lit in the evening, making these sacred sites even more magically beautiful. One can see a large gathering where monks, nuns and disciples read prayers and hear Lord Buddha’s life story. People give alms and show generosity on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti.

Significance- It was the day when Gautam Buddha was born in 563 BC in Lumbini
Key Attraction- People usually visits Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Lumbini and other monasteries during Buddha Jayanti to pay tribute to Gautam Buddha
When- It is also celebrated during the full moon of Baisakh month. The date could vary as the day is celebrated as per the lunar calendar.
Where- All over Nepal
Parents- Suddhodana, Maya
Death location- Kushinagar

7. Nag Panchami

Nag Panchami

The day of Nag Panchami paid tribute to the Nagas, the snake-gods associated with rain in Nepal. The festival celebrates the triumph of an ancient king, who was also a Tantric teacher. Over the nags that had stopped the hurricane. Through performing magic spells about them, the king pressured their obedience. This day is regarded explicitly as the adoration of the Nags, a concession graciously offered by the conqueror. The day before and on Nag Panchami’s morning, Nepalese Nag portraits from the street stalls stick these over their windows and door. Nepalese then do a little puja and leave the snakes with a food offering in the yards and paddies. Nag Panchami usually falls in July of English date.

Significance- This day is solely celebrated to pay tribute to all the Nagas (snake)
Key Attraction- The day before Naag Panchami, all the Naag pictures are stuck in the wall and window of the people house
When- The festival is performed during the fifth day of the bright half of lunar month of Shravana, as per the Hindu calendar
Where- All over Nepal by mostly Hindu people

8. Janai Purnima (Rakshya Bandhan)

Janai Purnima

This is the day that Hindu switches the Janai, the holy thread that the people wear on their bare chest. On the sacred banks of the river, on a full moon day, flocks of Brahmins (Hindu priests) resides to perform the puja. Newars from the Kathmandu Valley name this Gunhi punhi festival, a soup of different sprouted beans known as kwati, is being prepared as the day’s special menu.
At kumbherswar in Patan, richly decorated limgam, the phallic sign of lord shiva is kept in a platform in the middle of the kumbherswar (knowanti) pool. Another ritual taking place here is Byan –ja nakegu, in which rice offered to frog to thanks rain of god. In Bhaktapur, a Jujuy ghinatanghishi (kings cannibal) goes around town as an obstacle to saparu. The actors dress up in different outfit and dance in traditional songs.

Significance- On this very day, people switch their Janai (a holy thread people wear around their chest).
Key Attraction- Sister prays for a long and prosperous life of her brother on this day and ties a Rakhi around brother’s wrist.
When- On the full fun day of Shrawan month every year
Where- Nepal/ India

9. Tamu Losar

Tamu Loshar

Nepal’s Tamang, Magar, Gurung, and other Himalayan groups celebrate Lhosar to mark the start of the New Year’s Tamu Lhosar. Buddhist monks arrange prayer meetings in monasteries as part of the celebrations, which are specifically decorated for the Tamu Losar. People also change their holy flags above their homes and shares greetings to relatives and friends. The festival provides an opportunity for people to come together to sing and dance, dress up in their traditional dress.

Significance- Tamu Losar marks the start of New Year for the Mongolian people of the country.
Key Attraction- During this day, people usually tend to exchange greeting with each other and change their holy flag from their roof.
When- Every Poush 15 as per Nepali Calendar
Where- In Tundikhel of Kathmandu, Nepal and few other major cities of Nepal.

10. Mani Rimdu

Mani Rimdu

Mani Rimdu is the Khumbu Sherpas’ major festival in the Everest region. Tengboche monastery’s festivities take place and last for three long days. Similarly, the ceremonies start with the Buddhist monks blowing horns. In the procession, the chief lama and other monks arrive eventually. Prayers are humming, and appreciation goes out to all those who have contributed to the work. Then the audience rises with flags, bells, flutes and shells of conch mark the beginning of the activities of the second day. Then the holy dance is performed in which masked monks execute rituals that symbolize the defeat of evil forces.

Significance- Mani Rimdu is a 19-day long festival held in the Himalayas by Buddhists to mark Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava’s founding of Buddhism.
Key Attraction- The holy dance by masked monks and various traditional rituals.
When- In between Kartik and Mangsir month as per Nepali calendar.
Where- Himalayan area of Nepal

11. Teej

Teej Festival

Dancing in a flock song and wearing a red, green saree is the main theme of the Teej festival. Usually, Brahmin celebrates this festival in Nepal. When Lord Parbati got Shiva as her husband after meditation and fasting the festival began its popularity among the mass of a woman. On the first day of the Teej festival, mother of the bride sends food and sarees to the house of her daughter. The same day women’s gather around to feast. From the mid-night, the woman starts their fasting rituals. The second day is for the payer; many women visit holy Pashupati temple to worship Lord Shiva. The married woman asks for the happy and prosperous life of their spouse, whereas the single ladies ask for a perfect spouse like Lord Shiva.

Significance- Teej is dedicated to celebrate the holy union of Lord Shiva and Lord Parbati. It’s one of the major festivals for Nepali married woman
Key Attraction- The dance, fasting and Daar
When- the Teej falls on the 3rd day of Bhadra Shukla Pakshya which usually falls in Bhadra as per Nepali Calendar
Where- Nepal/ India

Along with these festivals there, many other festival people celebrate each year with great enthusiasm. The festivals that are celebrated as per the Nepali Calendar are given below:

Festivals Celebrated in Baisakh

  1. Nava Barsha
  2. Biskut Festival
  3. Mata Tirtha Puja
  4. Changu Narayan Festival
  5. Rato Machendra Jatra
  6. Balaju Mela, Lhuti Punhi or Purnima
  7. Buddha Jayanti/ Buddha Purnima
  8. Mani-Rindhu
  9. Kirat Day
  10. Sita Jayanti
  11. Sakela Ubhauli

Jestha

  1. Sithinakha
  2. Dukpa-Tse-She
  3. Saka Dawa
  4. Zamling Chisang
  5. Savitri Vrata
  6. Panauti Rath Yatra

Ashad

  1. Jamphel Nawang Lobsang Yeshi Tenzin Gyaltse (Dalai Lama Birthday)
  2. Hari Shayani Ekadasi
  3. Naga Panchami
  4. Gunla (Sacred month of Lord Buddha)
  5. Bhanu Jayanti

Shrawan

  1. Ghantakaran or Geth
  2. Dhundze (Sherpa’s festival)
  3. Janai Purnima, Rishi Tarpani or Raksha Bandhan
  4. Tulsi Ekadashi
  5. Guru Purnima
  6. Gathey Mangal
  7. Ramdan

Bhadra

  1. Gai Jatra
  2. Krishna Jayanti or Krishna Ashtami
  3. Gokarna Aunsi
  4. Teej (Festival of Women)

Ashwin/ Ashoj

  1. Indra Jatra
  2. Dashain/ Durga Puja
  3. Rishi Panchami
  4. Chepang Sonam Parba
  5. Solha Sarad
  6. Bal Diwas
  7. Biswakarma Puja
  8. Jitiya Diwas
  9. Kojagrat Purnima

Kartik

  1. Deepawali or Tihar
  2. Chhat
  3. Hari Bodhani Ekadasi
  4. Khadga Jatra (Exchange of Swords)
  5. Tulsi Ekadasi
  6. Mani Rimdu

Mangsir

  1. Gujeshwari Puja (Worship of Goddess Gujeshwari)
  2. Bala Chaturdasi (Remembering Bala and the Dead)
  3. Lah-Wab-Duechen
  4. Vivaha Panchami (Wedding of King Janaki of Janakpur)
  5. Dhaniya Purnima or Yomari Punhi (Rice bread for the Harvest moon)

Poush

  1. Nobel Peace Prize Day
  2. Mahendra Jayanti (King Mahendra Memorial and Constitution Day)
  3. Prithivi Jayanti & Ekta Divas (Birth Anniversary of King Prithivi Narayan Shah & Unity Day)
  4. Gurung Loshar
  5. Sweta Machendranath Snan
  6. Shree Swasthani Brata Prarambha

Magh

  1. Magh Sankranti (First day of Magh)
  2. Bhimsen Puja (Worship of Bhimsen)
  3. Sonam Loshar
  4. Swarswati Puja
  5. Shree Swasthani Purnima

Falgun

  1. Shri Panchami or Basanta Panchami (The spring festival)
  2. Tribhuvan Jayanti (National Democracy Day or Martyr’s Day)
  3. Mahashivratri (Shiva’s greatest night)
  4. Holi (Festival of colours)
  5. Losar (Tibetan New Year)
  6. Gyalpo Loshar
  7. Nala Machindranatha Snan

Chaitra

  1. Ghodejatra (Festival of Horses)
  2. Seto Machhendranath Snan (Bath of White Machhendranath)
  3. Ramnawami (Birth Anniversary of Rama)
  4. Chaite-Sano Dashain

Everyone in Nepal observes festivals with verve, each worshipping different facets of the same deity in keeping all the people unity with diversity. The festival has its significance, pros and cons.

Some of the Pros of Festivals in Nepal

1. Religious Importance

Well, behind every celebration of a festival in Nepal, there is a mythological belief. Most of the festival signifies, the victory over evils. This gives religious belief in people of this generation.

2. Togetherness

Festival means a holiday or a break from the hectic day to day schedule. During the festival, people tend to gather together and celebrate it together. For an instant, during Dashain younger people receives Tika from elderly people, this brings the feeling of togetherness among people.

3. Sale

During festival season, many Nepali shopping centres offer sales. Since there has been a very long tradition of wearing new clothes during a festival like Dashain and Tihar many shopping centres gets a field with a crowd of people.

4. Perfect Time for Holidaying

Festival season is also one of the best time for visiting new places. Many people from Nepal tend to visit their home town during Dashain and Tihar.

Along with pros, the festival celebrated in Nepal also has a handful of cons, such as:

1. Drunk Drive/Ride

Drink and Drive

It is reported that most of the accident in Nepal occurs during festival season. Festival means lots of food, drinks and travel. To enjoy life to their fullest, people drive their vehicles in the influence of alcohol.

2. Sacrifice of Animals

Sacrificing Animals

Many people from Nepal sacrifice an animal to impress a holy god. Sacrificing Nepal has been continuing from a very long time in Nepal, and it is nearly impossible to stop it entirely as for now. The government should make policies for the conservations of animals; otherwise, this can be one of the major problems in Nepal in the near future.

3. Gambling

Gambling During Festivals

Gambling in the name of the festival is another major problem in Nepal. Hundreds of people lose their home and properties yearly due to gambling. Nepal Police is also arresting them from a different place; however, this practice hasn’t come to an end yet.

 

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