Festivals in Nepal
Festival in Nepal has always been a meaningful event where people enjoy themselves more through their direct involvement than just watching them. In Nepal, every festival has some purpose to serve, such as to bring rain or to have good harvest, to avert calamities and so on. In fact, festivals are the best way to understand and appreciate the Nepalese way of life. The Nepalese year is full of festivals which are celebrated according to the lunar calendar. Some of the important festivals are listed below.
Ghodejatra (Horse Festival, March-April)
It is one of the exciting festivals celebrated in Kathmandu. Horse race and other sports take place at the Tundikhel parade ground on this day. In other parts of the city, various deities are carried to a shoulder-high on palanquin (Khat) with the accompaniment of traditional music.
Rato Machchendranath Rath Jatra (May-June)
This festival is the biggest socio-cultural event of Patan. The wheeled chariot of a deity known as Bungdyo or Rato Machchendranath is made Pulchowk and dragged through the city of Patan in several stages till it reaches the destined location (Lagankhel). The grand final of the festival is called the ‘Bhotto Dekhaune’ or the “showing of the vest”.
Teej is Hindu festival celebrated by women. Dancing, folk song and the red color or 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 right husband.
The festival of Indra, the God of rain, is observed with great enthusiasm in the 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 specially noted of the masked dancers almost every evening.
Dashain festival is the major festival of the Nepalese. Entire country is in enthusiastic holiday mood at the time of the festival. Dashain, the longest and most favorite festival right after the monsoon is a time for shopping, eating and socializing with friends, and family. The Dashain celebration marks the victory of good over evil. Durga Bhawani is the emblem of the good. Durga conquered evils on this day. Huge amount of animal sacrifice take place during the festival in temples and in home to please the Goddess, Durga. The final day of the festival is known as ‘Tika’, a day on which the elder ones give ‘Tika’ to the younger ones and to other relatives who come for blessing.
Tihar (Deepawali, October-November)
Known as the Festival of Lights, Tihar is celebrated for five days. Tihar, festival of lights is one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals. In this festival we worship Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. In other words, this festival is meant for life and prosperity.
Maha Shivaratri (February-March)
It is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. A great religious fair takes place in the Pashupatinath Temple and thousand of people from all over Nepal and India flock the temple to worship Lord Shiva.
Holi (Water festival) February-March
This is a colorful occasion when people smear colored powder each other and splash water balloons into one another. The Chir pole is erected at the Kathmandu Durbar Square gaily decorated with colorful flags. That is the formal announcement to everyday to hide all their good clothes and to join in the revelry. At the end of the festival, the Chir pole is taken down and burnt.
Lhosar is most impressively observed by the Sherpas. They organize folk songs and dances on this occasion. These dances can be seen in Khumbu, Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Bouddhanath in Kathmandu.
Buddha Jayanti (April-May)
Ever-benevolent Buddha was born in Nepal and the religion. His preaching is second most popular in the kingdom. On full moon day the Lord’s birth enlightenment and salvation are applauded throughout the valley with celebrations. On this day, people reach the Stupas before dawn go around them and give offering to the many Buddha images there.
It is a Sherpa dance drama performed in the Khumbu region. It is held annually at Tengboche and Chiwong monasteries during November or early December and at Thami Gomba each May. Although usually held during the full moon, this is sometimes scheduled at a more auspicious time. So inquire in Kathmandu and along the way to learn when it will take place. This colorful, uniquely Sherpa festival has its origins in ancient Tibetan theatrical genres. The performers are monk and the occasion is highlighted by much gaiety and feasting.
it is a birth celebration of Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) that takes place in June in the Khumbu region. It lasts for 6 days. Eight families sponsor the event each year. It is a heavy financial burden, so this responsibility is rotated among the villagers. Separate celebrations take place in the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung and Thami.