Know Festivals in Nepal
Festivals in Nepal highly reflects the beliefs, culture, tradition of Nepalese community. Highly diversified ethnic community, religion means there are numerous festivals in Nepal. Even though majority of population of Nepal follows Hinduism, some festivals are only confined to some community and religion. This year alone, there are 84 public holidays to celebrate different national and international festivals in Nepal. Government yearly reviews and decides public holidays.
The list of festivals in Nepal is so wide and vague, Nepal government (central) clearly dictates public holiday only for certain community and religion to celebrate. Some festivals have become regional as well. Rather than announcing public holiday throughout the country, government provides authority to federal government to announce public holiday for respective region based on community, religion, tradition and culture. For example, during Ramadan, the central government asks the federal government to provide holiday in influential regions of Muslim community.
It is believed, every day there are small or big festival ongoing in Nepal unnoticed. Here, we list out some major festivals in Nepal, celebrated by huge community. Follow Nepali calendar for the exact date of different festivals in Nepal.
Nepali Months along dates of Festival in Nepal.
1.Baisakh 2.Jestha 3.Asadh 4.Shrawan 5.Bhadra 6.Ashwin
7.Kartik 8.Mangisr 9.Poush 10.Magh 11.Falgun 12.Chaitra
Dashain/ Bijaya Dashami
The major festival in Nepal is Dashain/ Bijaya Dashami. Government announces 5 days of public holidays for this festival alone. However, the actual preparation and ending of Dashain is about 15 days long. The festival has high religious significance among Hindu community. ‘Victory over evil’ is the main theme of the festival. The festival generally falls on the month of September-October. Family and communal gathering is one of the main activities. Religiously, people worship different 9 incarnations of goddess Durga/Shakti each day. Animal sacrifices and slaughter have been highly criticised from animal activists, but this is not going to change soon. However, 10th day is remarkable for everybody. Putting ‘Tika’ in forehead from elders ensure prosperity and good health.
Tihar / Bhai Tika /Deepawali
Remarkably, this is the second major festival in Nepal. Government provides three long days of public holidays. However, there are 5 auspicious days for Puja and celebration. The festival is celebrated between brothers and sisters. Sisters put Tikas in brother’s forehead in fifth and closing day of festival, wishing for good health, longevity and prosperity. While during Dashain people sacrifice animals, during Tihar people worships different birds and animals. During Kaag-Tihar (crow worshipping day), Kukur Tihar (Dog worshipping day), Govardan Puja ( Ox worshipping day), Laxmi Puja (cow worshipping day), people worship and provide foods to animals. Also, during Laxmi Puja people worship goddess Laxmi, icon of prosperity and wealth. Lights and colours make city look beautiful during Tihar.
Holi / Falgu Purnima
Festival of colour and water, the Holi festival falls in the eleventh month of Nepali calendar, Falgun. Purnima is full moon in Nepali. The festival also signifies victory over evil. Sometimes, Holi is also known as festival of Love. The festival also welcomes the spring season. Holi is celebrated in major cities of Nepal and has very high importance in southern lowland of Terai. Interestingly, many trekkers and traveller willingly celebrate the festival around Durbar squares and Basantapur. People put different colours in each other’s face wishing for prosperity and good health.
Buddha Jayanti /Budhha Purnima
A highly religious festival for Buddhist community, Budhha Jyanti is regarded as the birth date of Lord Budhha. The festivals generally fall on the month of April/May. In Nepali calendar, the first month of year, Baisakh. On full moon day. Buddhists community, donate to those ones in necessities. Pilgrims visit Monasteries like Bauddha and Swayambhu Nath. Different levels of activities and gathering is co-ordinated in Lumbini, birthplace of Budhha. Interestingly, Hindus also participate and pay tribute to Budhha. People send and spread Love and Peace messages to each other.
Teej / Haritalika Teej
Festival of Nepalese women. On behalf of their husband, women worship and pray God Shiva for longevity, prosperity and good health. Women perform fasting and different rituals (Pujas). Dancing singing and gathering with community and family members is an integral part of Teej festival. Government and different social organizations participate to ease the situation in highly-crowded Pasupathi Nath temple. The Teej festival is celebrated in 5th month of Nepali calendar, Bhadra.
Maghe Skranti /Maghi/Makar Sakranti
The festival is on the 1st day of Nepali month, Magh. 10th month, in Nepali calendar year. The festival falls on the coldest month of the year, January. The festival is celebrated for well-being and prosperity. Even though, festival is well celebrated by Hindus, it carries high significant to Tharu people of Terai and Newar people of Kathmandu. In some part of hilly region, a bull-fight is arranged in between two bulls stirring criticisms. Playing hockey used to be a major part of Maghe Sakranti in hilly region of Nepal, now almost stopped.
Maha Shiva Ratri/ Shiva Ratri
An auspicious day to worship god Shiva. The day marks the birth of Lord Shiva and union of god with goddess Parvati. Worshipping and praying Lord Shiva in Pasupathi Nath temple in Shiva Ratri is very auspicious. Many sadhus and santas come and stay at Pasupathi Nath temple periphery to worship god. Millions of devotees come and pay respect to the god. Government along with the help of different community organizes and manages the festival. The same day is also known for Nepal Army Day.
Janai Purnima / Rakshya Bandhan
Tying sacred thread in right wrist of the hand to protect from evil is the main activity of the Janai Purnima. Males, who has performed ritual ‘Bratanandha’ put six-strings thread ‘Janai’ diagonally in the body from left shoulder. While Teej is dedicated to women, Janai Purnima is dedicated to males. Sisters put rakhi in brother’s wrist for god health and prosperity. Sprout known as ‘Kwati’ is one of the main foods of festival. It is believed, bathing in Gosaikunda lake of Langtang region on this auspicious day washes away all the sins.
Lhosar is Tibetan new year, widely celebrated by Sherpa, Gurung and Tamang community. Gurung community call the festival Tamu Lhosar, while Tamang community call Sonam Lhosar. Family gathering, eating different varieties of food, cultural display is the common activity during Lhosar.
The festival is dedicated to Indra, the god of rain. The festival is popular in Kathmandu valley among the Newar community. Various processions along with dance and cultural display is the main activity of the festival. Rath yatra of living goddess Kumari is the most remarkable feature of Indra Jatra.
Other Festivals in Nepal
Shree Krishna Janamastami
Rato Macchindranath Jatra
Nepali Mother’s Day
Nepali New Year