Nepal is the ‘Land of Festivals’ with at least one part of the country celebrating a festival every day of the year. Festivals may be linked with the memory of the departed soul, to herald a different season, to mark the beginning or end of the agricultural cycle, to mark national events or for family celebrations etc. On a festival day the Nepalese take their ritual bath, worship different gods and goddesses, visit the temple, observe fasting and undertake feasting. There are more than 50 festivals celebrated in Nepal every year. While the national festivals have fixed dates, religious festivals are set by astrologers following the lunar calendar. Dates are generally determined by the lunar calendar so it will fall on a different day each year. The following will be of particular interest to visitors.
New Year 2076
It is known as “Navavarsha” in Nepal. Nepal has its official calendar that begins from the first day of the first month Baisakh. This very first day is observed as Nepali New Year which usually falls in the second week of April. People go the day socializing in various ways as this day is also a national holiday.
Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days. On the first day of Losar, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang. The second day of Losar is known as King’s Losar (gyalpo losar). Losar is traditionally preceded by the five day practice of Vajrakilaya. Losar is also celebrated by Yolmo, Sherpa, Tamang, Gurung, and Bhutia, although different regions in the country have their own respective new year. Losar is also celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists Worldwide. Yolmo Losar is observed on the same day as of the Chinese New Year.
This festival is celebrated in August/September. This is a Hindu married woman’s day for her man. Women clad in beautiful red saris with shining potes (glass beads), singing and dancing is the sight almost everywhere in Nepal during the festival of Teej. On this day women observe a fast and pray Lord Shiva for the long, healthy and prosperous life of their husbands and their families. The unmarried women also observe this festival with unabated zeal with the hope that they will get to marry good husbands.
Dashain, is the greatest festival of Nepal which is celebrated during Sept-Oct., it is the national festival and it is observed especially by Hindus. The Goddess Durga is prayed for nine days during the festival. On this occasion, the family members, who have gone outside, come home to celebrate the festival.On the tenth day of the festival, youngsters take tika and blessings from the elders.The first day of the festival is called “Ghatansthapana” when people sow seeds of corn in a tiny vessel filled with clay and water. The vessel is put in the prayer room. People pray to the Goddess Durga every morning. They also visit different Hindu temples.It is believed that the Goddess Durga, whose steed is a ferocious lion, was able to kill a Mahisasur (buffalo). Her victory is symbolized as the defeat over evil. The government offices, schools and other offices remain closed during the festival.
This festival of lights that falls between October/November is the second biggest festival after Dashain. This festival lasts for five days and people worship Laxmi – the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest and people lit candles, oil lamps and other lights and the whole place looks illuminating. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshiped and honored with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans. Crows are regarded as the messenger that brought news even during the times when there were no postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most obedient animals and they guard our house as true guardians. Cow is also a symbol of wealth in Hinduism and she is also the national animal of Nepal.
During Tihar, the Newari community in Nepal also observes Mha puja – a ritual of worshiping one’s own body and life. On this very day, the Newari New Year which is also known as Nepal Sambat begins. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day when his sisters worship him for his long and healthy life to safeguard the lives of his sisters. This is also a gambling time in Nepal as gambling is not illegal during this festival.
It is celebrated in February. The festival is celebrated to worship the Lord Shiva, who is the most popular Gods of the Hindus. Devotees from various parts of Nepal and India visit the Lord Pashupatinath. They pray to Lord Shiva’s image inside the temple. On the occasion, saints and sages, who emulate Lord Shiva, give lectures about Lord Shiva to the disciples.
The festival generally falls in the month of March. Fagu or holi is a colorful and playful festival celebrated in various parts of the country. On the first day of holi, a chir pole decorated with colorful flags is erected at the Kathmandu Durbar Square to alert the people to hide their good clothes as colored powder and water balloons are thrown at them throughout the week.
The festival falls in the spring, the loveliest time of the year. Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, is worshiped at her temples in various parts of the country. In Kathmandu, His Majesty the King and other dignitaries visit the Kathmandu Durbar Square and welcome the season.
The festival is marked to extend thanks to Indra, King of Heaven and controller of the rains, for the rains. The festival is celebrated for eight days in Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Nepal has lot of small festivals; these are the main festival of Nepal. Get detailed information about the festival in our blog.