Festivals in Nepal February 1, 2024

Festivals in Nepal

Nawa Varsa or Nepalese new year is celebrated every year with great enthusiasm. This festival according to the officially recognized Vikrama Era falls on the first day of the first month (Baishakh) the Nepalese year, This celebration is in mid-April when usual New Year festivals are celebrated, ie dancing, Singing and Greetings.

Buddha Jayanti Purnima – The Full Moon of Lord Buddha’s Birth
For 2500 years the followers of Lord Buddha have conserated Purnima, the day of the full moon, in late April or early May, as ‘The Triple Blessing’, heralding the day when their beloved Master was born, the day he later received enlightenment, and the day on which he passed away into Nirvana about 483 BC. Ever since The Blessed One’s birth at Lumbini village, near her southern border, Nepal has been hallowed ground for millions of Buddhists round the world.

Prince Gautama Siddhartha was son of an Aryan Hindu king, born miraculously from between his mother’s ribs as pictured in countless Nepalese stone reliefs. After a pleasant childhood, he was early married to a cousin, the beautiful daughter of a neighbouring raja. During his twenty-ninth year, when the miseries of illness, old age and death and the merits of asceticism were revealed one after another to him, Gautama developed an abiding compassion for suffering humanity and a growing dissatisfaction with life and all its vanities. Ten years after marriage, on the night his son was born, Gautama unobtrusively left the palace and began his long, wandering search for Truth. Disillusioned by the teach-ings of Brahman hermits, he finally underwent solitary penance in the forested hills of northern India, but insight and enlightenment did not come.

On his birthday the focal point for Buddhist activities is the massive, white-domed stupa, which crowns Swayambhuynath hill, juyst across the vishnumati River from Kathmandu, the largest, most sanctified of all Nepalese Buddhist shrines. Erected by saints over 2,000 years ago, this tremendous circular hemisphere is said to cover and protect the Divine Light of Swayambhu, The Salf-Ezistent One who radiatred as a flam from a lotus blossom atop this hill when the waters left the valley in remotest times. Many believe this chaoitya, or lotus–bud -shaped stupa, contains certain sacred relics of Lord Gautama Buddha. Subnseqeuent saints, monks and kings have surrounded the great stupa with monastic cloisters and a forest of small idols, temples statues and monoature chaityas, which toda enshrine the entire sacred site.

From the white dome of Swayambhu stupa rises a tall, gided spire, on all four sides of which are painted the tremendous ‘All-Knowing’ eyes which gaze out in each direction from this highst point in the valley. Lids lowered over half-veiled pupils, these or again accusing and awesome, according to the conscience of the beholder. In lieu of a nose is a gigantic, spiraled red ‘question mark’, an ancient symbol denoting dharma-virtue- the only path to the ‘ocean of happiness’. The tremendous vajra, or ‘thunderbolt’, ensconced before the stupa is said to represent the power of Buddha’s all-pervsading knowledge over the divine strength of Lord Indra, King of the Heavens.

All through the nigh of full moon Swayambhunath is alaze with light from butter lamps and electric bulbs. Its glowing spire, outlined in white moonlight, against the blue night sky is visible for miles around. Devout Buddhists come by hundreds, many from distant places, to spend the night fasting in Lord Buddha’s name, chanting prayers for is blessing of World Knowledge, as they have done since time immemorial.

Thus on Lord Buddha’s birthday thousands of Buddhists, together with their Hindu brothers, pay homage to his exalted name, just as the tolerant Nepalese hold Jesus Christ in highest reverence.

Janai Purnima or Raksha Bandhan – The Sacred Thread Festival
Janai purni, on the full moon day of August, is a time crammed with festivities that begin the preceding evening, continuing all through the day and lasting far into the night.

For high-caste Hindu men, Janai purnima means the annual changing of the sacred Thread, a yellow cotton string worn about the neck and underarm beneath the clothing of Brahmans, the learned priestly class and Chhetris, who were originally warriors and rulers. This thread is bestowed upon males only, usually during youth, in impressive religious rituals, which officially initiate them into Hinduism and must be worn thereafter on every day of their lives. The ‘triple cord’ symbolizes body, speech and mind, and when its knots are tied the wearer is supposed to have gained complete control over each. This sacred Thread may be changed during the year if it becomes frayed or defiled, for example, by the wearer touching a woman in menstruation, at which time she is considered ‘unclean’, But according to Hindu rules the cord must be changed without fail by a Brahman on Janai purnima day, janai meaning sacred thread, an purnima stemming from purnima, the day of the full moon. Some believe it was on this very day in late summer, far back in antiquity, that Hindus first donned the thread and vowed to wear it for all time.

On the preceding day the wearer makes himself’clean’ by shaving, cutting the hair, paring the nails and bathing. He must observe a partial fast, taking only one meal of foods considered ‘clean’- no meat, onions or garlic. Next morning, on janai purnima day, a Brahman, usually the family priest, comes to the home. The entire family gathers round while he reads from the holy book, performs a ceremony which sanctifies the new thread in the name of Lord Vishnu, and places it about the recipient’s neck. In payment the priest is given foodstuffs and money in an amount commensurate with the family’s means.

Now for men, women and children of station, Hindu and Buddhist alike, Janai purni is the day when the sacred yellow thread called Rakdha Bandhan is tied about the wrist-the left for females, the right for males. Raksha means ‘protection’, while b andhan signifies a bond or restriction. The wearer believes that it will endow im with good fortune, Tradition says that this sacred wrist-string should be worn for three months-until Laxmi puja, during th efestival of Lights, when, no longer yellow, it is removed and tied to the tail of a sacred cow. Thus when death comes to th edonor he has a better chance that a cow will be waiting to assist him across the River Bhaitarna, and through various other barrirs along th eroute to the Gates of Judgment,by allowing the dead soul to cling to her tail.

On the night before Janaipurni hundreds of worshippers gather at the sacred sunken square pond called kumbeshwar in patan. this pokhari lies in the courtyard of the five-tiered temple of Mahadev (another name for shiva) which houses two three-three-foot shiva lingams. These phallic idols represent Lord shiva himself and are found in great number throughout th ealley, All are sacred, but certain ones, such as Kumbeshwar, possess greaterpowers an dattributes than others. The first lingam in this tempe is a pillar of gilded metal with five faces of shiva carved around the head. Beside it stands a second,the entire body of which is covered by a coiled snake carved in gold. It is this second lingam which must be moved into the sunken pond the night before Janai Purni.

To Lord Shiva’s great temple at Pashupatinath, northwest of Kathmandu, crowds also converge long before daybreak on Janai Purni. Woorshippers give a alms of rice and coins to beggars and cripples on the walk that leads to the temple gated, take holy baths in the Bagmati River, do puja to the sacred Shiva lingam and receive the raksha thread for the wrist. People say on the day before Janai Purni this famous temple is closed, the only occasion in the year, for on that day Lord Shiva visits the sacred lake of Gosainkund.

This beautiful lake, twenty -five miles north of Kathmandu Valley at an altitude of about 16000 feet, was created, legend says, by Lord Shiva himself. It seems he drank poison, which threatened to engulf the world and all mankinds, and in search of fresh water gushed forth to quench his thirst and formed thish sacred lake. On Janai Purni thousands of pilgrim’s trek, sometimes form great distances and for several days, to attend the religious mela or fair, camp on the sacred shores, take holy baths in the worship in Shiva ‘s name. On the climb through rarified air to Gosainkund, awe-struck pilgrims become weak and dizzy, and their sight blurs; then they know they have been ‘possessed’ by the poison which Shiva drank. Some faint and have to be carried back to their himes, never reaching the lake. Returning pilgrims tell of seeing an image of Shiva ‘lying in the water’, while others tell of seeing his long-handled trident or the vessel of holy water he often carries.

It is believed that in ancient times a Shiva temple actually stood on the rocks in this lake, since there exists today a reddish-brown stone which resembles a great kneeling bull, the same Nandi, servant and companion of Shiva, whose image is found before all Shiva temples.

A legend persists that long ago a devotee, while bathing in Gosaindund lake, dropped his brass whater pot and it sank out of sight. Some time later it miraculously appeared in Kumbeshwar Pond in Patan, mentioned lake through some subterranean river into Kumbeshwar pond, a belief given further credence by the fact that water of the patan pond remains abnoramally cold throughout the year. The on Janai purni day thousands of devotees, unable to make the long mountain tred to Gosaindund, are content to bathe at Kumeshwar.

Thus the day of the August full moon means many things to many people and the Janai Purni ceremonies enhance the welfare of the living, bring comfort eventually to the souls of the dead, and sustenance to the frogs in the fields.

Gai Jatra – The Procession of Sacred Cows
Everyone knows of Yama Raj, the God of Death who decides at what levels the souls of the deceased shall be reincarnated again on earth. He maintains a great ledger in patal, the Underworld, wherein is recorded every mortal’s birth, his good and bad deeds, and the predetermined date of his death. When one’s time is upYama sends a henchman, perhaps a black crow, to see that the released soul sets out for the judgment gates of patal, which are opened only once each year , the day of Gai Jatra.

The route to Yama’s gate may be exceedingly difficult, leading possibly through rivers of fire, and most bereaved families pray that a sacred cow may guide and protect the spirit of their dead along this dangerous journey by allowing it to cling to her tail . Most families also aim to ensure, by the performance of good deeds on Gai Jatra day, that sacred cow will be in readiness at Yama’s gate, where thousands upon thousands of souls are waiting , to push open the portals with her horns and assist the soul to enter for judgment.

This is why on Gai Jatra, the day immediately following the sacred thread festival of the August full moon, every recently bereaved family must honor the soul of their dead by sending a religious procession through the streets along a route prescribed ages before. The Gai Jatra, or cow procession, consists for each family of a live, decorated cow or a young boy gorgeously costumed to represent one, together with the family priest, a troupe of musicians and a small boy in the guise of a yogi or holy man. After early-morning rituals for the dead at the home, each parade starts on its way to join hundreds of similar groups in an endless procession past temples, idols and holy places along the narrow, winding streets, Householders give food and coins to members of each procession, including the cow, rel or impersonated. All must pass by the ancient royal palaces-Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu-and it is believed the old Malla kings kept census of the annual death toll by counting each group. When the cow processions return to the bereaved households, religious ceremonies are again performed and the cloth ‘tails’ of the cow -costumed boys, which drag along the ground during the pilgrimage, are cut into strips and tied and about the neck of family members to protect them from misfortune.

Gai Jatra ceremonies vary with financial status, religious inclination and locality. In patan town the processions do not parade as separate units as in Kathmandu. Instead, the costumed boys meet at a central point and proceed around the shrines and rocky streets, accompanied by as much noise as the blaring musicians, beating drums, clanging domestic utensils ( tied to the cloth ‘tails’ of the cows ) and huge stone-filled metal rillers, which are dragged over the cobble-stone lanes, can produce . It is thought that this commotion may appease some irae deity and perhaps frighten away evil spirots or the wrathful souls of the dead who, through neglect, return to haunt the homes of their kinsmen .

Bhagagaon inhabtants stage spectaculr processions, in which breaved families engage persons to parade for their dad with heads encased in huge, cloth-covered baskets to which horns of straw and a painted cow’s face are affixed. Families of means make enormous cow- heads by wrapping long bamboo structures with cloth and having them carried through the stress to a din of local music.

In general, however, judging from the vast numbers of dazzling processions leading live cows or lavishly costumed youths to represent them, the clowning of hordes of afternoon merrymakes , and the size and enthusiam of the watching crowds, he majority of Nepalese follow Gai Jatra traditions as handed down by their forefather, thereby fulfilling time-honoured obligations to the souls of the recently dead.

Teej – The Fasting Festival for Women Only
Every year, in August or early September, there is a three-day festival, which always ends on the fifth day of the brightening moon. Nepalese women claim it for themselves alone. In observing the requited rituals and ceremonies, Nepalese women strive fir what is desired by women everywhere- a happy and productive marriage, good fortune and long life for her husband, and the purification of her own body and soul.

While observing this festival of Tij, women must undergo penances and rigid fasting, the severity of which is alleviated by lavish feasts, laughter and dancing in good fellowship with sister devotees. On the first day they indulge themselves and their appetites to the fullest in preparation for the all-important second day of strictest fasting. Because the last day of tedious ceremonial holy bathing must take place on the fifth day of the waning moon, during some years a day elapses between the Tij day of fasting and the final bathing day. In other years the three days follow consecutively.

The first day is called Dar-khane, when the women of each hose -hold prepare for a feast, the most sumptuous that can be produced: all kinds of curry -mutton, chicken, fish and vegetable, with chutneys, eggs, fruits and sweets an indulgence which often strains the family purse. Tradition says the husband must meet this expense even if it means pawning valuables, taking a loan or selling part of his store of grain. Thus some men, alluding to the next day is fast, claim that ‘a woman observing her yearly Tij fasting often consumes a whole bushel of corn ‘.
In the afternoon people are seen hurrying through the streets and along the footpaths carrying baskets ad trays of edibles, the customary gift mothers must send this day to the homes of their married daughters. Along with food, according to her means, she may also send scarlet saris, red glass bangles and crimson cotton yarn for her daughter’s hair.

Some women may hold their feasting party during the day; but when the children are sleeping and men out of sight, the women often congregate in one room and seat themselves on the floor around a spread of many dishes, laughing, bantering and gorging themselves with all they can hold, for at midnight begins a time of arduous a fasting. Often the kollity goes on until morning, for many consider it a special penance stay awake through the entire night.

Next is the most important day of the festival, when Tij fasting is performed on behalf of one’s husband. Not one morsel of food nor drop of liquid may be taken for twenty-four hours. Extremely pious women woll not swallow their own saliva; it is expectorated instead, to avoid a sin likened to drinking their own husbands’ blood.

The rules of this fast are revealed in the holy books, citing how the saintly goddess Parbati, daughter of the god Himalaya , fasted in feepest humility, fervently that the great Lord Shiva would become her spouse. Shiba, touched by her piety and devotion, made her dreams come true and took her as his wife. in gratitude Parbati sent her emissary to preach and propagate this type of religious fasting among women on earth, romising that she who observes it will not only beget many children, but will live with her husband all the days of her life.

Dashain – The Universal Mother – Goddess triumphs over Evil
Dasain, like the Western Christmas season, is by far the longest, most auspicious and most joyous time of year, celebrated country-wide by all castes and creeds during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon in late September or early October. Families are reunited; blessings, gifts and glad tidings are exchanged, public parades, ancient processions and traditional pageants are held; and the all-powerful goddess Durga, in all her various manifestations and names and forms, is widely acclaimed with innumerable pujas, ritual holy bathing, profuse offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices, so that her many idols are drenched for days in blood.
The festivities of these two weeks glorify the ultimate and inevitable triumph of Virtue over the forces of Evil, commemorating a great victory of the gods over the wicked demons and devils who harassed mankind in ancient times. The Ramayana story is retold of the righteous King Rama, defied by Hindu mythology as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, or again as God himself, who after epic struggles slaughtered Ravana, the fiendish king of the demon hordes from Lanka, a legendary country believed by many to have been Ceylon. Some say Lord Rama was successful in his battle with the demon only when he evoked the Shakti or Supreme Energy vested in Goddess Durga , the Divine Mother of the Universe. Others have it that Rama’s saintly wife Sita, having been kidnapped by the demon Ravan, assumed the form of the Terrible Destructress, Goddess Kali- otherwise known as Durga -and destroyed this thousand – headed King of the Demons.

Greatly celebrated during Dasain, again glorifying the triumph of Good over Evil, is Goddess Durga’s slaying of the terrible demon Mahisasura, who roamed the earth, terrorizing the populace in the guise of a ferocious water buffalo. Other accounts reveal how Lord Rama, having sworn to kill the evil Mahisasura of the Underworld , enlisted the Divine Energy of Goddess Taleju still another of Durga’s many forms- promising to take her to his Indian capital of Ayodhya and erect there a temple in her honor. It seems that Goddess Durga, as Taleju, was King Rama’s ancestral family deity, eventually taken as clan goddess of the Nepalese Malla kings . She is to this day the Divine protectors of Nepal and her rulers, her temples standing adjacent to all the old royal palaces.
No matter how the story is told, victory is celebrated during Dasain fortnight with great rejoicing, and Goddess Durga is adored throughout the land as the Divine Mother Goddess who liberated the suffering people from the miseries of Evil.

In preparation for Dasain every home is ceremonially cleansed with cow dung, decorated, painted and freshened for the visitation of Goddess Durga and the long – awaited return of distant and near by family members. Footpaths and roads are congested with homebound travelers trekking overland, crowding into bullock carts, buses, trucks, automobiles and, in recent years, the airplane. Bazaars and shops are filled with holiday buyers seeking new clothing, gifths, luxuries, and tremendous supplies of temple offerings for weeks in advance droves of sheep, goats, ducks, chickens and water buffalo are herdd into the valley from the southern Terai flatlands and outlying hills in preparation for the great slaughter. These are sold by villagers who return to their homes laden with the city produce necessary for Dasain.

All government, educational and military institutions and many business houses are closed for ten to fifteen days . Hiring of laborers is impossible. Workers expect bonuses, leave and salary advances; loans are often taken to cover the heavy expenses incurred by one and all. In recent years the Western innovation of exchanging greeting cards has come into vogue,and at every turn the traditional blessings ‘Vijaya Dasami’ and ‘Subbha Dasain!’ are heard.

The first nine days of Dasain are called Nawa Ratri, Nine Nights; Tantric rites were formerly conducted in the secrecy of night, but in Nepal are openly observed. Here the infinitely ancient mother-cult of Mother Earth and Mother Nature takes form in the worship of Shakti, where the Life Force is embodied in the Divine Energy or power of the female, depicted as Goddess Durga in all her many forms. All Mother Goddesses who emanated from Durga are Known as Devis, each with different aspects and powers, nine of whom, collectively called Nawa Durga,are listed in the scriptures, but many more are worshipped in Nepal.

The five days of Tihar are celebrated in October or early November, that glorious harvest moon season in Nepal when pathways, roadsides, courtyards and village squares are expanses of golden un husked rice and brilliant red chilly peppers drying in the sunshine, when crisp, clear nights forestall the coming of winter. Tihar literally means ‘a row of lamps’, and lighting displays are traditional, but this festival is actually a succession of significant holidays celebrated for a variety of reasons.

Tihar brings the worship of Laxmi, Goddess of Wealth; and a day to worship one’s own body or self. Worshipped in turn are the lowly dog and ill-omened crow, as well as the sacred cow, the family money box and the brothers of every home. The God of Death is propitiated ; the ancient New year starts; and throughout the land an avid and illicit five-day indulgence in that favorite Nepalese pastime- gambling with friends and family-takes place.

Through all five nights, especially during Laxmi puja of the third day, every home, temple and building is graced by rows of lights-the traditional Nepalese lamp of twisted cotton wick in a small clay bowl of mustard oil- as well as candles and electric bulbs, burn at every window, verandah, doorway, courtyard wall and rooftop. Magnificent displays for those of means; simple ones in smaller homes where a lamp must glow at the roadway entrance as well as at every doorway, window and stairway, and always atop the baked-clay cooking stove. Friendly rivalry between neighbors results from this eagerness to please Laxmi, the goddess who loves light.

Fagu Purnima – Holi – Red Powder, Romance and Haunting Demons
The ancient Hindu festival of Holi, named allegedly after the mythical demoness Holika, brings eight rowdy days in March, sometimes late February, when men, women and children foreigners as Well as Nepalese -may find themselves doused with sacred red powder or splashed with scarlet liquid. The religious significance of this springtime celebration is all but lost in an outburst of youthful exuberance in which the throwing of ‘colour’ on all passers-by should, according to tradition, be accepted by the victim with the same good humour with which the prank is performed.

Rung Khelna, the playing with colour, is given sanction beginning on the eighth day of the waxing moon in March with the installation of a twenty-five-foot bamboo ceremonial pole, topped with three umbrella -like tiers, each fringed with colourful strips of cloth. This chir pole is erected with pomp and cermony amidst a crowd of revellers in the street at Basantpur, near Kathmandu’s old royal palace. Guns crack in salute, flutes and drums echo round the square, while red ceremonial powder is sprinkled aout the pole and into the outstretched hands of surrounding spectators, and the week of Holi commences. Throughout the week the chir pole is conidered sacred and people come to place at its base small lighted wicks, flowers and red powder.

Shiva Ratri – The Sacred Night of Lord Shiva
One can almost literally feel the presence of Lord Shiva in Kathmandu Valley. His spirit is every where, dwelling in the thousands of idols and monuments which glorify his name, and pervading the hearts, minds and lives of the Nepalese people.

For Shiva is the Great God, Mahdav, whose paradise on Mount Kailas in the Himalayas and whose famous pashupatinath temple on the outskirts of Kathmandu-one of the most sacrosanct of all Hindu shrines-have made Nepal for ever hallowed ground. Here he is called Lord Pashupati, the protector of animals. Here Shiva appeared in remotest antiquity disguised as a forest deer, and again as a flame over which legend says the shrine was first built. On this temple’s wooded hill, Just across the holy Bagmati River, Shiva, this time portrayed as a huntsman, once made sport with parbati , his lovely goddess consort. This is the arcadia, some believe , where the famous warrior Arjun pilgrimaged to receive from Shiva the divine and all- powerful bow with which to slay the enemy in the great Mahabharata war which resulted in triumph for righteousness.

Just as Shiva embraced Nepal, so have her millions of Hindus and Buddhists accepted this Sord as their guardian deity.

It is not sufficient to describe Shiva as the Destroyer , one of the Hindu Triad of which Brahma is the Creator and Vishnu the preserver, for he a multifarious deity exalted in Sanskrit literature under I, 008 names, adulated in countless manifestations, each famed for certain attributes, deeds and powers. His supremacy in the Hindu pantheon was aptly revealed in one of his endless wars with the giants, when Lord Shiva the earth into two equal………………………………………..

Shiva as Mahadev is the majestic, gracious supreme Lord, infinite and eternal, whose ways are so inscrutable as to defy comprehension. Yet he is the kindly husband of parbati, father of Ganesh the elephant god, and of Kumar- Kartik the warrior-hero, Laxmi the Goddess of Wealth , and Saraswati the Goddess of Learning. In this serene aspect, Shiva is capable of bestowing unlimited prosperity in this world and a blissful life in the next.

Shiva Ratri, literally meaning the night consecrated to shiva falls on the fourteenth day of the waning moon in februaru, or in some years early March, when often 100000 worshippers pass through the temple gate during the winer four hours to the exaltation of his holy name. Thousands and thousands of pilgrims atream into the valley from all over Nepal, and especially India, arriving days in advance by airplane, bus, truck and automobile. Hundreds wlk the entire distance and arrive weary, footsore and dusty They trudge through the Kathmandu streets on the way to shiva;s shrine bundles balanced atop their heads, men;s dhoti skirts and women;s cotton saris flapping about bare brown feet, many ascrificing their life savings to bow before the holy lingam of shiva on this sacred night. They camp in the woods around the temple, sleeping on mats or in huts procided by Nepalese welfare organizations, apparently oblivious to discomfort, for the merits earned by such a pilgrimage are enhanced in derect proportion to sufferings undergone.

Nag Panchami (July/August)
In Hinduism, Nag (the divine serpent) is glorified as the provider of rain. Nag is worshipped to provide a good harvest during the monsoon season, and Nag Panchami, the fifth day of the bright lunar fortnight, is set aside for worshipping serpents. Devotees on this day paste pictures of Nag over their doorways with cow-dung. As part of the rituals to propitiate the divine serpents, milk, their favorite drink is offered to the pictures. Failure to appease them may invite droughts and disaster in the days ahead.

Devotees also teats sour food at early morning.

Ghode Jatra
Ghode Jatra, the Horse Racing Day falls on the month of mid March or early April. A grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel, the central point of the city reputed to have been in the former days the largest parade ground in Asia. It is said that in the olden days the Kings of Kathmandu use to go to worship the Bhadrakali temple in a courtly cavalcade following the Living Goddess Kumari. This visit could have been modified into the parade of horses and finally the horse athletics and racing contest as it is today, held by the army in the presence of President and other dignities.

There was a time when the festival was considered only for the residents of Kathmandu. But today it’s popularity has attracted people from all over Nepal. It’s said to be a propitious day for consuming a large amount of garlic and meat, some even consider it a day when citizen in the streets may inebriate themselves.

Legend reveals that this festival was held to celebrate the victory over a demon named Tundi who resided over the meadow, today known as Tundikhel. Tundi was a terror, so when he met with his death people rejoiced by dancing on his body with horses. So it’s believed that the clamor of horses’ hooves on Ghode Jatra at Tundikhel keeps the demon’s sprit at bay as it still threatens to ruin the city. It’s said, the faster the horses run quicker will Tundi’s spirit be dispelled. The swift running of the horses on this day is also considered to be a good omen for the Nepalese people.

Another event takes place on Ghode Jatra at Bal Kumari area in Patan where a horse is intoxicated with spirits and an equally drunk person in a traditional Newari attire rides it. People shout to frighten and enrage the animal until it runs widely with the rider clinging to it. This race is thought to have been commenced in the olden times by a certain king of Patan to give a better show in comparison to Tundikhel’s parade, as in those days no one from Patan could attain it. The most worshiped goddess on this day in Bhadrakali also known by the Newari people as Lumarhi Devi.

Ghode Jatra is a festival, which doesn’t have a lot of religious ceremonies, but the horse parade, is a big attraction and people always look forward to it.

Indra Jatra
It is a well known fact that Hinduism and Buddhism are the two major religions of Nepal, each having it’s own rules and rituals. However, like most festivals of Nepal, both Hindus and Buddhist unite to celebrate the festival of Indra Jatra. This festival is celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhists with great enthusiasm. It is also believed that Indra Jatra is a festival of classical dances. It is on this very day when one is able to observe numerous varieties of traditional dances. The festival is named after Lord Indra who is known as the god of rain and also as the king of heaven.
The festival of Indra Jatra continues for eight days with much rejoicing, singing, dancing and feasting. People from all over Nepal, mostly those who live within the Kathmandu Valley, gather at the Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu. The first day of the festival is viewed by a large number of people. On that day, a long wooden pole is erected in front of the ancient Royal Palace at Hanuman Dhoka, in order to propitiate Lord Indra, the”god of rain”. Classical dancers also assemble at the spot, wearing different kinds of traditional masks and costumes and dancing around the courtyard of Hanuman Dhoka to celebrate Indra’s visit.

On the third day of the festival of Indra Jatra, the living goddess Kumari is taken out in a procession in a chariot. “Kumari”, the “living goddess”, is considered to be an incarnation of the goddess “Taleju”. Chariots of Kumari, Ganesha and Bhairav are taken around the city for three days. According to Hindu beliefs Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati who has a head of an elephant and Bhairav is another form of Lord Shiva himself.

The tradition was The king of Nepal, the only Hindu king in the world, also pays homage to the Kumari during this period. But now-a-days President of Nepal is invited as chief Guest during the festival. The festival’s many interesting dances, including the Procession of Living Goddess-Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Dasha Avatara masked dances are staged in Kathmandu Durbar Square, near the Kumari Temple. The “Dasha Avatara” refers to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu who is one of the Hindu’s Holy trinity. The excitement of the festival of Indra Jatra comes to an end on the last evening of the festival when the long wooden pole erected on the first day is lowered with religious ceremonies, animal sacrifices and ritual gestures.

Machhindra Nath Jatra
Kathmandu Valley has 3 historical cities among them one is Patan. This festival is celebrated in Patan City (Lalitpur District) only. This historically significant festival celebrates Machhindra, the guardian deity of Nepal. Ceremonies commences on the 1st of Baisakh (as per Nepalese Calendar), when the idol is bathed in holy water in the Bagmati River. It is then taken to Patan City, mounted on a large Rath (Chariot) and a shrine is placed with carvings and lots of flowers. The whole procession may take up to a week and the idol of Machhindra is displayed in Patan City for a month from place to place, before taken back to the Bagmati River and placed back in its home temple in Kathmandu. The day that it is returned is referred to as Gudrijhar and the blanket of the idol is symbolically shaken to reveal its emptiness to represent contentment, despite poverty. Although is use to celebrate one time a year but every 12 years main celebrations has been celebrated.

Yomari Punhi
Yomari Punhi -meaning full moon of yomari-one of the popular Newar festivals is observed every year during the full moon of December.A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest)dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi. On this full moon day, people of the Kathmandu Valley offer worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for the rice harvest. Groups of kids go neighborhood to beg yomari cakes from housewives in the evening. Sacred masked dances are performed in the villages of Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the Valley to mark the festival.
The Newars, upon munching a mouthful of yomari, a sweet dish, await the end of their four days of devotion of god, following which they will be blessed with wealth, according to their belief. The people prepare yomaris, in the form of gods and goddesses such as Kumar, Ganesh, Laxmi and Kuber. In keeping with the culture, parents bless children from two to twelve years who are then offered yomaris. The children on the other hand perform the customary song and dance and ask for food and other gifts from the elders during the festival.
The festival is said to have started from panchal nagar(present day Panauti). Myth has it that Suchandra and Krita, a married couple, first experimented with fresh yield of rice from their field. And what took shape turned out came to be known as yomari. The new delicacy was eventually distributed among the villagers. As the food was liked by all, the bread was named yomari, which literally means ‘tasty bread’. The myth further states that on the same day the couple offered the god of wealth, Kuber, the new delicacy, who was passing by in a disguise. Following this Kuber disclosed , his real identity and blessed the couple with wealth. He also declared that whoever will prepare yomari in the form of gods and goddesses on the full moon of December and observe four days of devotion to god, will get rid of poverty. The festival is celebrated on the second day when prayers are offered during which the yomaris are stored and not eaten on that very day. On the fourth and the final day the people belonging to the Newar community consume the sweet bread as a gift from gods and this practise also marks the end of the festival.

Chhath: is an ancient Hindu Festival and only Vedic Festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God – SURYA. The Chhath Puja or Parva is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. The Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshipped during the Chhath festival to promote well being, prosperity and progress. In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including LEPROSY and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends and elders.
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bating, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time and offering PRASDAD (prayer offering) and ARATI to the setting and rising SUN.
Although it is observed most elaborately in Terai region – mostly EASTARN Part of Nepal (MADESH) and is more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have presence but in modern times it is celebrated throughout the country in the riverside.

Saga Dawa
Saga Dawa Festival at Tanboche, foot of Mt. Kailash:
Saga Dawa which is the day of Buddha’s enlightenment, nirvana, the monastery at Tanboche, the base of Mt. Kailash in Tibet celebrates this big festival for four days. During festival you can see the vivid way of Tibetan pilgrims that joins from all over the Tibet and celebrates Fire Puja, Lama Dances, Sand Mandala Puja and finally the unrolling of the giant silk thanka. This is the oldest scroll painting in Tibet, dating back 1000 years and measuring approximately 40 x 60 m. Circumambulating Mt. Kailash during Saga Dawa, one gained a merit of 100 thousand times due to the sacred month of Saga Dawa. It normally falls in the month of May, and dates are fixed according to Lama Calender.

Teeji- The Chasing of the Demons: On this festival the lamas perform a centuries-old ceremony to chase demons from Lo Manthang. Gripping human skull-tops laced with streamers, lamas chant prayers and perform, almost 50 separate religious dances. They are interrupted now by masked demons who flail wooden swords at the frightened spectators. Dates are not confirmed for this festival but normally falls in the month of April or May.

Bibaha Panchami
All the people of the Hindu world know the story of the marriage of the hero Ram and the princes Sita, as told in the epic Ramayana. King Janak, sita’s father, proposed at a test of strength for the suitors of his daughter: to string the great bows of Lord Shiva. Warriors, Kings and chieftains came from afar, but no man could even lift the bow. Ram lifted the bow with ease and when he tried to string it, the bow shattered into pieces. Ram and Sita were married in Janakpur, now in southern Nepal, and their marriage is celebrated to this day. Each year, idols of Ram and Sita are brought out in procession and their Hindu wedding ceremony is re-enacted during a weeklong religious fair. Bibah Panchami reflects the devotion of Hindus to Ram, perhaps the most popular among the incarnations of Vishnu, and to Sita, the model of the ideal Hindu woman. This festival is mainly celebrated in Janakpuri City of Dhanusha District and falls in the month of December normally.