Festivals in Nepal

Nepal is a land of festivals. Most of the festivals reflect the deep-rooted culture, tradition, and religion of the people and have been celebrating among the different ethnic communities since time immemorial. Festivals effectively bind together the Nepalese people of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds and beliefs into one nation. Most Nepalese festivals are related to different Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses and they are celebrated almost every month in a year. Many festivals and events attract large numbers of tourists visiting Nepal.

Lhosar (February)
The festival is most impressively observed by the Sherpa community. They organize folk songs and dances on this occasion. These dances can be observed in Khumbu, Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Bouddhanath in Kathmandu.

Maha Shivaratri (February-March)
Shivratri or the Night of Lord Shiva is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. A great religious fair takes place in the Pashupatinath Temple and thousands of people from all over Nepal and India flock the temple to worship Lord Shiva.

Holi (February-March)
This is a colorful occasion when people smear each other with colored powder and splash water balloons onto one another. The Chir pole is erected at the Kathmandu Durbar Square being decorated with colorful flags. All the people join in the revelry. At the end of the festival, the chir is taken down and burnt.

Ghodejatra (March-April)
Known as the festival of horses, it is one of the most exciting festivals of Kathmandu. Horse race and other sports take place at Tundikhel on this day. In other parts of the city, various deities are carried shoulder-high on Palanquin (khat) to the accompaniment of traditional music.

Rato Machchendranath Rath Jatra (May- June)
This festival is the biggest socio-cultural event in Patan. The wheeled chariot of a deity known as Bungdyo or Rato Machchendranath is made at Pulchowk and dragged through the city of Patan several stages till it reaches the destined location (Lagankhel). The grand final of the festival is called the ‘Bhoto Dekhaune’ or the ‘showing off the vest’

Dumji (July-August)
It is a birth celebration of Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) that takes place in the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung and Thame of the Everest Region. It lasts for 6 days. Eight Buddhist families sponsor the event each year.

Gaijatra (Cow festival)
It is a carnival held in the month of July-August and it lasts for eight days. Dancing, singing, comedy, and anything that causes mirth and laughter are its highlights.

Krishnastami (July-August)
It marks the birthday of Lord Krishna. On this day, worshippers carry ornate, decorated statues and pictures of Lord Krishna through the streets, often with bands of musicians following or preceding the procession in Patan. Thousands of devotees flock to the Krishna temple to worship and receive blessings.

Teej (August- September)
Teej is a Hindu festival celebrated by women. Dancing, folk song and the red color of women’s wedding saris dominate the days of Teej. Women observe a fast and flock to Shiva temples where married ones pray for a happy conjugal life and unmarried ones for a good husband.

Indra Jatra (August-September)
The festival of Indra, the God of rain, is observed with great enthusiasm in Kathmandu Valley. The festival lasts for eight days. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out in procession through the main streets of Kathmandu. The festival is especially noted for the echoes of drums and dancing feet of the masked dancers almost every evening.

Dashain or Durga Puja (September-October)
The Dashain festival is the most important festival in the Nepalese. The entire country is in the enthusiastic holiday mood at the time of the festival. The huge amount of animal sacrifice takes place during the festival in temples and in-home to please the Goddess, Durga.

Tihar (October-November)
Known as the Festival of Lights, Tihar is celebrated for five days. It is one of the most important Hindu festivals after Dashain. In the festival, we worship Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. In other words, this festival is meant for life and prosperity.

Vibhaha Panchami (November-December)
This is a famous festival of Janakpur in the eastern Terai. The occasion commemorates the marriage of Sita to Ram, one of the most venerated Hindu divinities. It attracts thousands of pilgrims from India to Janaki Temple in Janakpur. On the first day of the festival, a large procession sets out from the Ram temple, carrying an image of Ram and proceeding to the famous Janaki temple. The next day, in an equally colorful ceremony, a figure of Sita is carried to Ram’s side thus re-enacting the ancient wedding of the diving couple.

Buddha Jayanti (May)
Lord Buddha was born in Nepal. Later his preaching was spread to other southeast Asian countries. On full moon day, the Lord’s birth enlightenment and salvation are applauded throughout the valley with celebrations. On this day, people reach Stupas before dawn, go around them and give offerings to many Buddha images there.