Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Festivals of Nepal

Festivals are an integral part of life of the Nepalese people. Festivals have religious or secular significance. They effectively bind together the people of diverse cultural backgrounds and beliefs into one nation. Most Nepalese festivals are related to different Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses and they are celebrated on such days consecrated them by religion and tradition. The Nepalese year is full of festivals which are celebrated according to the lunar calendar. Some of the major and interesting festivals are listed below:

The night of Lord Shiva is observed in February- March. It 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.

Phagu Purnima /Holi 
This festival takes place on the full moon day in the month of February – March. This is a colorful occasion when people smear each other with color powdered and splash water balloons onto one another.

Nepalese New Year
The day usually falls in the second week of April. It is observed as a national holiday. People celebrate it with a great pomp and show. On this occasion, Bisket Jatra is held in the city of Bhaktapur.

Ghode Jatra
Ghode Jatra or Horse festival celebrated between March and April 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 the 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 Yatra
Celebrated in May- June, this festival is the biggest socio- cultural event of Patan. The wheeled chariot of a diety known as Bungdyo or Rato Machchendranath is made at 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 'Bhoto Dekhaune' or the 'showing of vest'.

Janai Purnima
This festival is celebrated in August in which Hindu people change sacred threads and take a holy bath and receive yellow threaded bands in their wrist from Brahmin priests.

Gai Jatra
Celebrated in July- August, it is a carnival that lasts for eight days, dancing; singing, comedy and anything that causes mirth and laughter which are its highlights.

Celebrated in July –August, it marks the birthday of Lord Krishna. On this day, impressive ceremonies are conducted at the Krishna Temple in Patan and at Changu Narayan.

Celebrated in August –September, it 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 happy conjugal life and unmarried ones for a right husband.

Indra Jatra
Celebrated in August –September, 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 (Durga Puja)
Nepal's biggest annual festival that lasts for 15 days, finishing on the full-moon day of late September or early October, and there are a number of important rituals right through these days. Dashain is also known as Durga Puja since the festival celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga over the forces of evil in the guise of the buffalo demon Mahisasur. Since Durga is a bloodthirsty goddess, the festival is marked by the biggest animal sacrifice in the various Hindu temples and in the home to please the Goddess Durga.

Tihar (Deepawali)
Known as the festival of lights, Tihar is celebrated for five days. It is observed in the month of October or early November. In this festival the people worship Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In other words, this festival is meant for life and prosperity.

Maithili - speaking people mainly celebrate this festival in the terai region all over south of Nepal. It is observed in the sixth day following the festival of Lakshmi Puja or Deepawali. Men and women take a dip in the local river, lakes and worship the rising and setting sun. This festival lasts for four days followed by fasting, praying and singing hymns.

It is the most impressively observed festival by the Sherpas and Tibetan communities. It falls in the month of February or March. The people organize folk songs and dance on this occasion. These dances can be observed in Khumbu Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Boudhanath in Kathmandu.

Buddha Jayanti
On full moon day the Lord Buddha'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 many Buddha images there.

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