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What are the festivals celebrated in Nepal? Festivals in Nepal

Festivals in Nepal

Nepali is a multi – Cultural country with a unique cultures and traditions which they have been following for centuries. Nepal is a miscellaneous country with an untrustworthy landscape, rich bio – diversity and diverse culture of the people living here. They have their own set of beliefs and festivals to celebrate. Each community holds their unique cultures and traditions which they are following from the very long period of time.
There’s no doubt calling Nepal as the land of festivals. Most of the day in Nepal is the day of celebration of festivals for one or another community. The best part of the Nepalese people is that “one’s pride in one’s culture and they have respect for the other’s culture too”. Thus this is the reason Nepal is a country of harmony.
It is not an easy task to mention all the festivals celebrated in Nepal, but we have tried to mention some of the popular festivals celebrated by majority of people in the country.
Dashain, Tihar, Lhosar, Holi, Chhath parva, Teej, Bisket Jatra, Ghode Jatra, Indra Jatra etc are some of the important festivals celebrated in Nepal.

Dashain


Dashain or Vijaya Dashami is regarded as a major festival of Nepal as about 80 percent of the people in Nepal follow Hinduism. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat and Nepal Sambat annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese people, throughout the globe. It is the most anticipated festival in Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and North Indian hills. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together. All government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed during the festival period. The festival falls in Sepetember or October, starting from the Shukla Paksha (bright lunar fortnight) of the month of Aswin and ending on Purnima, ( the full moon). The festival is celebrated for 15 days. Ghatasthapana, is the first day of Dashain. 7th day is fulpati, 8th day is asthami and 9th day is nawami and on the 10th day is the vijaya Dashami. On the auspicious day, people receive tika and jamara along with blessings and dakshina from the elders and this continues for 5 remaining days.

Tihar

Tihar is the festival of lights and flowers. It is celebrated for five days. The 1st day of Tihar is celebrated by worshipping crows, dogs on the 2nd day. The third day is celebrated by worshipping cow in the morning and the Goddess of wealth i.e Laxmi in the evening. On this day the houses are lighted with candles and colourful lights. The 4th day is celebrated as Govardha puja and the oxes are worshipped in the morning. And the 5th day is known as Bhai tika, which is very important for brothers and sisters. On this auspicious day, sisters put seven different colored tika on their brother’s forehead and put on garlands. They give dry fruits, sel roti, sweets, and many other. They give dry fruits, fruits, sel roti, sweets, and many other delicious food to their brothers . They also wish them for longevity of life, prosperous health and dignity.

Lhosar

Lhosar means ‘New Year.” It is celebrated by Buddhist people from different parts of Nepal. There are mainly three different Lhosar celebrated in Nepal. There are mainly three different Lhosar celebrated in Nepal: Tamu Lhosar, Sonam Lhosar and Gyalbo Lhosar.
Tama Lhosar is celebrated by the Gurung community people, sonam Lhosar iscelebrated by the Tamang community, whereas Gyalbo Lhosar is the festival of the Sherpa and Tibetan communities. Buddhist celebrate Lhosar with family feasting, dancing and gatherings. On this day, they read prayers, decorating houses and monasteries.

Holi

Holi or Falgu Purnima is known as the festival of colours. It falls between Febrary / March. Holi is celebrated by playing with colors and water. There is a mythological reason of celebrating this festival as well. The day is celebrated for the victory of Prahlad, Vishnu’s devotee. This day is celebrated for the death of “Holika”, who tried to Kill Prahlad. She tried to burn Prahlad but only Holika burned to death. This was the reason for splashing each other with colors saying its ashes of Holika.

Chhath Parva

Chhath parva is a four – day festivals celebrated by the Terai people as the biggest festival worshipping the sun God. They worship the setting sun and take fast during the day for congruity and prosperity of their family members. They offer waterto the rising sun the next morning. They also observe this festivals, by taking holybath, diving water for a long time, offering food to the sun God etc.

Teej


Teej or Haritalika teej is one of the Hindus festival celebrated by women in the month of Bhadra ( September / October). On this day married women fast for longevity and prosperity of their husband, and unmarried women also take fast hoping for a good husband and a family in future. They dress themselves in red sari and wear designed ornaments. They gather to dance and sing about women hood. They also visit their relatives for dar program before the Teej.

Mha Puja

Mha Puja is the festival celebrated by the Newar Community of people celebrated on the fourth day of the Tihar. Mha Puja is celebrated by performing a ritual puja to purify and empower one’s body and soul.
Family members sit in a row on the floor with mandalas drawn in fromt of them. Then they follow various rituals and light the mandala to purify and thank the body they live in.

Buddha Jayanti


Buddha Jayanti is the birth anniversary of light of Asia, Gautam Buddha. Gautama Buddha was born in 563 BC in Kapilvastu, Lumbini. Therefore, it is an promising day, not just for the Buddhists but also for the others in the country.

People visit Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Lumbini and other stupas and monasteries during the day. The delightfully lit butter lamps make these holy sites look more magical in the evening.
One may observe large gatherings where monks, nuns, and followers read prayer and tell moral or life story of Lord Buddha. People do Dana Dharma to show generosity by helping others.

Jatras

Nepal is rich in cultural and traditional practices. The country observes numerous Jatras like Ghode Jatra, Bhoto Jatra, and others. Some of these come from the epics and legends of Hinduism and Buddhism, others are the result of age- old traditions, cultures of bygone kings and historical events.
Jatras are usually long processions from one part of the city to the other carrying various deities in chariots called ‘rathas’ with mascots according to the theme of the Jatra. Following are some of the most spectacular Jatras celebrated in the valley.

Bisket Jatra

Bisket Jatra falls on the first month of Nepalese calendar. It is celebrated specially in Bhaktapur. The myth behind the festival is that, “there was a princess whose husbands kept dying on the wedding bed. This was awkward for the royal family. Then came there a prince, who was blessed by the goddess, who found a pair of serpents came out of the sleeping princess. He filled them and the princess finally remained married forever.
During this festival, chariots of Lord Bhairav and Goddess Bhadrakali are pulled through different parts of the city. At Lyasinkhel, a tall pole with two embroidered clothes, representing the serpents, is erected. As this festival is celebrated to mark the death of the serpents, it is also called Bisyau Jatra, meaning slaying of the serpents. It is also known as the festival of the New Year because it begins from the end of Chaitra to the beginning of Baisakh.

Ghode Jatra

 

Ghode Jatra is celebratedduring Chaitra ( March – April), is another festival that unites all the people of the valley. Though there is no religious background for the display, it is believed that a demon spirit was buried under Tundikhel and the horse parade ensures that it does not return from the burial site.

Newars from the valley involve in gatherings or parties during this festival. The festival is noticeable by various parades, athletics, acrobats etc. performed by the Nepalese army in Tundikhel which a number of high ranking officials of the country attend. Bhadrakali, Kankeswari, and Bhairav are deties worshipped during the day.

Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra is a festival celebrated with a number of events full of humor, satire, jokes, etc. as it is legally allowed to make jokes about anything and anyone that day. A number of magazines, Tv shows, and theatre plays show comical plots.
The Historical origin of this festival, according to evidence, is that after the death of his son, King Pratap Malla was very worried about his queen who was heartbroken. So, he announced that every family who had lost a member would join procession to showcase the symbols of dead family members in the form of Cows.
People in the demonstration are dressed ridiculously to make funny faces and jokes so that people would forget the grief of losing their loved ones.

Rato Machhindranath Jatra

Rato Machhindranath Jatra is one of the most major festivals in Patan. An entire chariot is erected from the wood and bamboo from chosen forests of the country having religious importance.
The festival in originated by a Paaneju priest placing the idol of Rato Machindranath inside the chariot. As Rato Machhindranath is a divine being worshipped by many Hindus and Buddhists in the valley, the chariot is carried through a number of places in and around Lalitpur including Gabahal, Sundharaaa, and Lagankhel.
Rato Machhindranath is also worshipped as Padmapani Lokeshwor, Avalokiteshvara and Aryavalokitesvara and Karunamaya.He is believed to have been brought from Assam when Kathmandu valley was suffering from a long drought. He blessed the valley with rain then and is still worshipped to welcome the rainy season and rain in the season.

Indra Jatra


Indra Jatra is the festival celebrated to honor Lord Indra, the God of rain. It is celebrated for 8 days, mainly in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. It was started by King Gunakamdev after setting the city of Kathmandu in the 10th century. Kumari Rath Yatra was later added to the celebration in the 18th century.

The history behind the festival states that when Lord Indra was fetching night jasmine from Kathmandu for his mother, he was captured and held captive by the locals. Once they realized they had captured Lord Indra, they were scared and immediately released him. Indra’s mother blessed the city for releasing her son. It is believed that Kathmandu receives enough dew even in winter months for cultivation because of the blessing.
The festival starts with the formation of a pole called Yasin, which is made from a single tree with stripped branches and bark. The procession route in the historic parts of the city includes peoplr lighting incense and candles as reverence to their deceased family members.
The other attraction of the Jatra is the Kumari Jatra which includes chariots of Goddess Kumari, Bhairav, and Ganesh being pulled across different parts of the city accompanied by mascots and musical bands. Different Bhairavs are exhibited during the festival while Pulu kisi ( elephant dance), Majipa Lakhey, Sawa Bhakku, Devi Pykhan, Mahakali pykhan are the various dance forms performed during Indra Jatra.

Conclusion

Thus, Nepal is steeped in myths and legends. More than a hundred festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Every little gesture has a deep meaning behind it. Exploring all this is very interesting, but to mention them all in one article is impossible.
Therefore, only a select few of all the festivals of Nepal are mentioned here.

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