Nepal is also known for its various cultures and lively festivals, apart from its natural beauty and historical heritage. Although small in size, Nepal is home to many cultures and races with different rituals and celebrations. Almost all the festivals celebrated in Nepal have religious meanings, and some of them are based on historical events. Some prominent Nepali festivals are as follows:
The biggest festival in Nepal is Dashain. It is celebrated in October or November. It is a celebration of the victory of goddess Durga over evil Mahishasur. It is celebrated for 15 days enjoying with family and relatives. During the festival, People worship Goddess Durga, put tika, and take blessings from elders.
The second biggest Festival in Nepal is Tihar. It is celebrated after two weeks of Dashain for five days. It is also known as the “Festival of Light.” The first day of Tihar is called “kaag Tihar,” where crows are worshipped. The second day is called “Kukur Tihar.” Dogs are honored, and tika is marked on their foreheads as a blessing. The dogs are fed a variety of foods.
On the third day, cows are worshipped in the morning, and Goddess Laxmi in the evening. Houses are lit with diyos and Goddess Laxmi is decorated and worshipped. The fourth day is Govardhan puja, where Oxes are worshipped. In the night, Newar ethnicities celebrate “Mha Puja” by worshipping their own body. Further, the last day of Tihar-Bhai tika is celebrated by putting tika and giving offerings to brothers and encircling them with mustard oil to protect them.
Maghe Sankranti is the first day of the Magh of Bikram Sambat Calendar. It is celebrated in January. Tharu people celebrate this day as the New Year. During this time, the sun moves from one zodiac to another called Sankranti. The days become longer and warmer, so people thank Lord Bishnu. Hindus bathe early in the morning, worship, and make offerings to Lord Bishnu. They also read a holy book called Bhagwat Gita.
Buddha Jayanti is a special occasion for both Buddhists and Hindus. People celebrate the journey of Buddha on this, from his birth to enlightenment and death. Buddha Jayanti falls on the whole moon night of April or May. All Buddhists honor the Buddha, especially at stupas. Swayambhunath Stupa, Lumbini, Namobuddha, and Boudhanath are some of the famous sites to worship during the occasion of Buddha Jayanti.
Teej is one of the major festivals of Nepal that girls and women primarily celebrate. This day generally falls around September and August. This day is celebrated as Lord Shiva, and Parbati united with each other. Teej welcomes the monsoon season, which usually falls on Shrawan or Bhadparwa of the Nepali Calendar. Women often fast during this festival. Dancing, singing, and wearing a red saree is the way of celebrating this festival. Married women pray to Lord Shiva for their husband’s longevity and prosperity, whereas unmarried women pray for a good husband. Married women often visit their homes and Pashupatinath during Teej.
Gai refers to cow, and Jatra refers to the festival generally celebrated in August or September. It is celebrated in the memorial of people who died during the year. During the festival, cows are marched in the streets. Trying to make people laugh and enjoy is the main target of the festival. People dance, sing, caricature, and tell jokes to make the environment enjoyable. People whose family members have passed away decorate a cow, and their young ones dressed as cows roam around the streets dancing, singing, and playing.
Holi or Phagu Purnima
Holi (Phagu Purnima) is the festival of color. It is celebrated in March. People play with colors and water among their friends, family members, and elders. During this festival, people put various types of paint on each other Faces. It celebrates the death of the devil Holika. In the Terai region, it is celebrated the next day after it is celebrated in the Kathmandu Valley.
Maha Shivaratri is one of the most important Nepali festivals. It usually falls on Falgun in Bikram Sambat Calendar. It is held in March. Many Lord Shiva devotees gather in Pashupatinath during this day to worship Lord Shiva. It is regarded as the day Lord Shiva was born. Lord Shiva devotees crowd almost all Shiva temples on this day. People fast day and night chanting “Om Nama Shivaya” for Lord Shiva. People perform Rudra Abhishek rituals and pour Milk into Shiv Linga and Lord Shiva statues. Many sadhus come from India to Pashupatinath to worship Lord Shiva and serve Lord Shiva’s spiritual Tandav. At home, people lit bonfires and stayed up all night.
Janai Purnima is a significant festival for Hindus. Men renew their holy thread “Janai” in this day where the sacred thread means the bond of purity. This day falls on an auspicious full moon day, called Janai Purnima. People also wear “Doro” on their wrists from Brahmins on this day. Then the thread is tied to the cow’s tail during Laxmi Puja, believing it would help them cross the Baitadi River, the way to heaven. One of the unique things not to be missed on this day is a special dish called “kwati” made from 9 soaked beans. The specific type of food consumed by the Newar community is called “Kwati.”
Losar is a culturally vibrant festival celebrated in Nepal, encompassing three distinct types: Tamu, Sonam, and Gyalpo Losar, each observed by different ethnicities. Tamu Losar is cherished by the Gurung community, Sonam Losar is embraced by the Tamang people, and Gyalpo Losar is celebrated by the Sherpa and Tibetan communities. These festive occasions, occurring around February or March, bring together various ethnicities for joyous gatherings, traditional dances, and meaningful rituals to welcome the Tibetan New Year.
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