Major Festivals of Nepal
Some of the main festivals of Nepal are listed below –
Dashain and Tihar:
Dashain has considered one of the most popular (82% of Hindu) people celebrated the national festival of Nepal. This auspicious festival falls on the month of Asoj Kartik (September- October). People indulge in 4 this festival as the biggest festival of the year. Fifteen days celebration of this festival falls according to the lunar annual calendar. Throughout, this 15 days goddess Durga is the main manifestation of this festival. On the 1st day of Dashain ( Ghatasthapana), Hindu people prepare for jamara of Maize, Barley. During 9 days 9 avatars of the Goddess of Durga is worshipped. Although, to prohibit the bad evil from the house an abundant number of animal sacrifices for drenching the blood to Goddesses Durga. On the last 10th day people receive Tika, Jamara, and lots of blessings from their elder relatives. This continues for the last 5 days and ends on the full moon day called Kojagrat Purnima.
Tihar / Deepawali
Tihar is also known as Deepawali and this is the 2nd biggest national festival of Nepal. Tihar is also known as the festival of color and lights. On the auspicious occasion of October- November, this festival is celebrated. The major manifestation of Tihar is Goddesses Laxmi. Behind this festival, there is a mysterious and interesting part. Tihar reflects the story of Yamaraj and his sister the Yamuna. She wants to see her brother and sen Kag (crow), Kukur ( Dog), and Gai (Cow). At last, she herself came to call and see her brother. To protect her brother from bad evil she makes a circumference of garland and mustard oil and put 7 colored tika on the forehead of her brother Yamaraj. So from this month of October and November, every sister worships her brother just like the Yamuna.
Moreover, Young boys and girls also play Deusi and Bhailo in the old platform of singing and dancing. Traveling from home to home and collecting money and sweets bring more excitement and collaboration.
Janai Purnima is also a famous festival in Nepal. According to the Nepali calendar, this festival falls on the full moon day of Shrawan and Bhadra month. During this festival men and boys wear thread which is manifested by the thread and also put door its 9 round thread on the wrist). Not only that, but people also eat kwanti mixture of several grains to remove the coldness of the body on this day. Hindu men change their thread after taking bath after who has performed the Bratabandha ceremony. Janai must not disgrace the religion that supports the control over each. Janai consists of three cords which symbolize the speech, body, and mind. On this auspicious day, the Newar community celebrates kwanti Purnima. Kwati is a soup of Black gram, Garden pea, cowpea, Chickpea, rice bean, etc. These beans were soaked for 3 -4 days and ready to prepare it. Thousands of pilgrims come to worship on the Kumbheshower temple of Patna, Gosain Kunda, and many more religious places.
Maghe Sankranti is celebrated on the auspicious month of Magh (November, December). From this day, it is believed that Sun starts to move towards the Northern Hemisphere. According to Hindu Astrology, the position of the sun is divided into 12 Zodiac ( Rashi). At this Sankranti, people take a holy bath ( Makar snan) at the holy river. Fairs and great celebration held on the bank of Dolalghat, Barahachetra Ridi, Triveni ghat. The most interesting fact about this festival is on this day Tharu communities of Nepal celebrate Maghe Sankranti as their New Year. They celebrate it as an end of winter and begging of the summer season. Moreover, they enjoy this Sankranti as by attending community get together ( Mela), with traditional Tharu food and drinks. People worship Lord Vishnu and the sacred Bhagwat Gita from this Festival. Sesame seed laddus, Molasses, Ghee, Sweet potatoes, yam are the main food menu of this festival.
Lhosar is one of the popular Buddhist festivals of Nepal which is followed by Tibeto- Mongolian people. This festival falls on the auspicious month of February march according to the lunar calendar. According to mythology this word Lhosar is derived from Tibeto words ‘ Lho’ means year and ‘Sar’ means new. Mainly Mongolian people cook flour and butter on fire and tie the colorful prayer flag. Lhosar is famous for Tsampa and Yak Butter where roasted wheat seeds are placed. Every people of Tibetan Mongolian celebrate the festival of peace and harmony. There are 3 types of Lhosar celebrated In Nepal. Tamu, Loshar is celebrated by Gurung Communities. Sonam Lhosar is the festival of Indigenous Tamang communities and Gyalpo Lhosar is the festival of the Sherpa Community.
Shree Krishna Janma Ashtami
Shree Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated on the auspicious occasion of the Birth of Lord Krishna. According to the Hindu calendar, this festival falls on the month of Bhadra on the 8th day of Krishna Prakash at dark fortnight of Bhadra. As a mythology Lord Shree Krishna was born about 5,200 years ago. Historians and scholars say that Lord Krishna took birth in a cellular jail in Dwapar Yug biologically to Vasudeva and Devaki. But Vasudeva had to cross the Yamuna River in a stormy night to pass on his child to a friend so save the child from the evil hands of Kansa. So, technically, Maiya Yashodha and Nanda of the Gokul region of Mathura were the foster parents of Lord Krishna. One of the specialties of Janmashtami is the offerings made to the Lord. The Supreme Lord Sri Krishna is offered 108 delicacies, prepared by the devotees with great care and attention. Additionally, tons of sweet prasad (holy food & fruits) are distributed to all the visitors who throng the temple on this most auspicious day to have darshan of Krishna.
The actual celebration of Janmashtami takes place during the midnight as Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna is believed to be born on a dark, stormy, and windy night to end the rule and violence of his uncle, Kansa. This day is celebrated with devotional songs and dances, pujas, Aarati blowing of the Conch, and rocking the cradle of baby Sri Krishna.
As a part of the festival, Gai Jatra is also celebrated in Nepal among the Newar community mainly in Kathmandu valley. Primarily, the Newar community celebrates Gai Jatra for the tribute to the departed soul. Gai Jatra is a time to remember the lost once and to erase the pain and sorrow. This festival was originated from Pratap Malla rulers where Malla Queen was mourning for a long time after the sudden death of her son. This popular festival falls in Bhadra month (August-September). This joyful festival reminds the ceremony of a happy carnival where foreigners get a chance to experience the Nepali traditions and old customs.
Although, this festival lasts up to 8 days 1st and 2nd days were more valuable to celebrate it. In the early morning, local Newar people give baths to cows and clean their tails. As per their rites and rituals, they decorate the cow as they regard t as a symbol of wealth and happiness.
According to Hindu myth, it is believed that the dead one would hold the cow’s tail to cross the Vaitarni River. The journey\ process of Gai Jatra takes the humor, Jokes, Dance, and song of comedy and parody. Newari people offer beaten rice, curd, and coins to the cow and young boys who are dressed as a cow. This historical and traditional festival reflects the old traditions and patterns of their culture throughout the country.
Fagu Purnima is one of the most colorful and joyful festivals in Nepal. This festival is the occasion of color and water so this festival is considered and known as ‘Fagu’.
According to Hindu Mythology, during the reign of King Hiranyakashyap and entire people of the kingdom were prohibited from worshipping Lord Vishnu and were forced to worship him instead. The king had immense hatred towards God Vishnu. But for his misfortune, King’s own son, Pralhad, was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. When the king learned about this, he grew very furious and implemented extreme cruel measures to make his son forget Vishnu. Likewise, no matter how cruel the king got his son grew more closely to Lord Vishnu. In one of his ploys, the King assigned his sister, Holika, to burn Pralhad to death.
During the Holi Sweet of Bhang (Cannabis) were served and also lassie is famous during the entire auspicious the Holi festival.
Buddha Jayanti is a festival which is celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhist People of Nepal. On this day People celebrate this day as the birthday of Lord Gautama Buddha. This festival falls on the occasion of the Baisakh or Jestha month. Sometimes this festival falls in the Mayor April in the leap year. Nepali people celebrate Buddha Jayanti with Huge Devotion. Nevertheless, the Buddhist people visit different Monastery, Stupa, and shrines to worship Lord Buddha. Moreover, a huge number of monks read mantra and prey Lord Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. On this day people mainly serve with Rice Pudding and sweets menu. In Nepal, Swoyambunath and Boudhanath are decorated with beautiful lights and candles to present peace and happiness. With great devotion, people celebrate this festival with high devotion to show the Nirvana and Acknowledgement gained by Lord Gautama Buddha.
Rato Macchindranath ko Jatra
Rato Macchindranath ko Jatra is one of the most interesting and longest-running festivals in Nepal. In the Newari community, this Jatra is also called Bunga Dyah Jatra. Significantly Rato Macchindranath Jatra is celebrated by the Typical Newari Community. This one of the old festivals of Nepal starts at the end of the Baisakh month (April- May).
During these festival rituals, Gai Daan (Cow donation) is also performed. About 60 Foot tall Chariot is built during the Jatra. People decorate the chariot with beautiful flowers and garlands and worship it as a deity of rain. It is believed that one Newari who came from Assam performed the puja of Machhindranath and protect the Kathmandu from being Drought. After decorating the chariot with help of 2 big wheels The chariot is balanced and traveled around the city. At last, the ceremony ends with the Bhoto Jatra where the bejeweled vest of the rain god is represented. The different stories may have different characters but at the end of the day the story is the same as a drought in the Kathmandu valley and in order to end it, the people seek the help of the rain God – Rato Machhindranath. During the process of the chariot, the traveler is performed by the typical music and Newari cultural dance is also performed during this Jatra. On the first day, the chariot is pulled towards GANABAHAL, on the second day towards SUNDHARA, and on the third day to LAGANKHEL. Every time the chariot pulling affair comes to an end for the day, it is signaled by firing three rounds of the bullet in the air.
Maha Shiva Ratri is one of the major festivals of Nepal. This festival is celebrated on the dark fortnight of Falgun Month. On this day is a holiday in which public schools, offices were closed. The official celebration begins at midnight with priests offering items to Lord Shiva in the temple. People swim in the sacred Bagmati River, carrying water in cupped palms to offer it to the stone stele which is the symbol of Lord Shiva. In the morning, sacred texts are recited until noon when people begin singing sacred songs. Some of the finest musicians and singers come to Nepal to sing praises of the God Shiva.
Similarly, in Nepal, Shiva Ratri is celebrated with great joy and enjoyment. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims from our own country and other country came here to worship the Lord, Shiva. Lord Shiva is considered as the head of the god also great fair is held in every Shivaratri temple and big biggest celebration in Pashupatinath temple, Kathmandu. Pashupatinath Temple is the place with the biggest crowd on this day. Special provisions are made to make it easier for the pilgrims who came to visit on this day. As Maha Shivaratri is mainly related to the night, the devotees stay up all night and pray to Lord Shiva. The four Prahars of Puja is carried out all night long, the devotees usually stay in tents.