Nepal is not only the rich of mountains; it is also the rich of festivals. There are more than 50 festivals celebrated in Nepal each year. While the countrywide festivals have fixed dates but religious festivals are situate by astrologers following the lunar calendar. The most excellent part about the festivals in Nepal is that all the festivals are celebrated with the similar enthusiasm and in abundance the way it used to be centuries year of ago when people had no other resources of entertainment
It is known as “Nayavarsha” in Nepal. Nepal has its certified calendar that begins from the first day of the first month “Baisakh”. This first day is observed as Nepali New Year which normally lies in the second week of April. Some people go for picnics, have get-togethers and celebrate the day socializing in different way; this day is national holiday as well.
This is the New Year of the Tibetans and Sherpas of Nepal which falls normally in February. The Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu like Swayambhunath and Boudhanath are decorated with eye catching multicolored prayer flags pulling the crowd. The people execute their traditional dances and welcome their New Year with feasts and family gatherings wearing the new clothes and handpicked jewelries and exchanging gifts with each others.
Saraswati Puja also known as Shree Panchami is a day to celebrate the birthday of Saraswati,the God of study. This is a day when group from school students to scholars worship their books, copy and pens to please the Goddess and imagine her favor in their studies so they become wise and knowledgeable. People also worship around the god of Goddess Saraswati in Temple and offer flowers, sweets, fruits, etc. On this day, small children start to go school from this day as well. The festival falls between January/February is observed as a very lucky day for marriages too as it is said that Goddess Saraswati blesses the couples herself.
Shivaratri is known as the night of Lord Shiva that it falls normally between February/March is one of the well known festivals of Nepal. This day is dedicated to the Lord of the Lords Mahadev (Shiva) who lived in Mt. Kailash in the Himalayas. Lord Shiva is the most worshipped God in Hindu religion. More than 100,000 of Hindu followers from India and Southeast Asia come weeks ahead of the festival and get together in around Pashupatinath Temple, one of the famous places of pilgrimage of the Hindus in Kathmandu to pay their respect to Lord Shiva on his birthday. “Pashupatinath” exactly means “the Lord of animals” as Lord Shiva is considered as the guardian and defender of everything that is in the Himalayan Kingdom. On this blessed day, worshippers take bath in the holy river at early sunrise and fast for the entire day and live around fire to keep them warm as it is still winter in Nepal.
This festival fells between March/April and an impressive horse parade takes place at Tundikhel. Although this festival does not have much of religious aspects, a large number of people, even from outside of Kathmandu gather around Kathmandu to spectator the horse race and other exciting sports activities performed by the Nepal Army in the incidence of the King and the Royal family.
Buddha Jayanti means Buddha’s birth anniversary is celebrated every year month of May in Nepal. On this day people grouping in Boudhanath and Swayambhunath temple to pay respect to Lord Buddha and also visit Buddha’s birth place in Lumbini and song prayers and burn butter lamps. Lord Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautam but he neglected his luxurious life when he realized the depression of mankind and went in search of enlightenment to Jungle.
The festival of cow is celebrated each year in August/September. This is also one of the most admired festivals in Nepal as it is full of humor, comedy, satire, mockery and shades of depression too at the same time. And on this day satires and jokes on everybody is legal. As per the tradition, the family who has lost a relative and member of own house during the past one year must take part in a procession by sending young boys in cow like clothing and walk throughout the road of Kathmandu lead by a cow. Cow is regarded as a Goddess and it is also the national animal of Nepal. This festival also cleans many who have lost their loved ones as they get to lessen themselves as to they are not the only ones who have been died and it also teaches to accept death as a part of our life.
This is the birth anniversary of Lord Sri Krishna, believed to be the 8th life of Lord Vishnu falls around August/September. All the followers gather in Krishna Mandir, the ancient Krishna Temple in Patan Durbar Square and other temples with the icon of Sri Krishna and offer prayers, flowers, food, sweets etc.
This is a Hindu married woman’s day for her man. This festival is lies in August/September. All hindu women dressed in beautiful red saris, singing and dancing is the sight about everywhere in Nepal during the festival of Teej. On this day women stay fasting and pray to Lord Shiva for the long, healthy and prosperous life of their husbands and their families. The unmarried women also celebrate this festival with unabated passion with the hope that they will get to marry with good husbands. From early morning on this day, women queue up in the lines in Pashupatinath Temple to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.
This festival named after Lord Indra- the God of Rain and the King of Heaven is celebrated by both the Buddhist and Hindu religions in Nepal in August/September. This festival lasts for eight days with on stage, mask dancing and joy. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess is taken through the main roads of Kathmandu with much displaying. On the first day, the President of Nepal also pays respect to Goddess Kumari. The mass of energized people from performers to spectators overcome the streets of Kathmandu during this festival. People get to enjoy various classical dances like “lakhe” which is known as mask dance as well.
Dashain is the greatest festival in Nepal. Normally Dashain fells the mont of late September or early October. Dashain is the longest and the most favorable festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed all through the country. This festival celebrates for 15 days. The fifteen days of celebration arise through the bright solar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Detailed out the kingdom of Nepal the goddess Durga in all her expression are worshiped with numerous pujas, plentiful offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the sacrament holy bathing.
This festival of lights that falls between October-November is the second greatest festival after Dashain. This festival celebrates for five days and people worship to Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the principle that Laxmi will come into the house that is the cleanest and people burn candles, oil lamps and other lights and the whole place looks enlightening. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshipped and pleased with delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans. Crows are considered as the messenger that brought new news even during the times when there were no postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most dutiful animals and they guard our houses as true guardians. Cow is also an icon of wealth in Hinduism and she is also the national animal of Nepal. The ceremony of worshipping festival ends with Bhai Tika. This day sisters worship to their brothers for his long and healthy life to protect the lives of his sisters.
This festival of water and colors that lies between February/March is also known as “Phagu Purnima” in Nepal. This day is observed to rejoice the extermination of female demon Holika who mutually with her King Brother conspired to kill his son Pralhad, an enthusiastic devotee of Lord Vishnu. This day, playful people especially the young ones walk through the streets in groups on foot or vehicles with diverse colors dirty all over them and the people in houses make merry throw colors and water balloons at each other and also to streets walkers as well.