Best Festivals and Holidays in Nepal
Festivals and holidays in Nepal are an integral part of Nepalese way of life and their behavior. It is essentially based and revolves around the religious and cultural events that garner tremendous local participation. Nepal is primarily a Hindu country having diverse ethnic groups which means that the celebrations have variety and are fascinating to see. With hundreds of festivals throughout the year across Nepal, there is almost a festival every week, so there is always something to see.
Festivals also offer travellers a valuable opportunity to gain insight into various aspects of Nepalese culture. The religious festivals follow the lunar calendar, which national festivals have fixed dates. Dashain festival is the longest and considered to be the most important festival of Nepal. Dipawali (Tihar) brings same joy to Nepalese people. Other important festivals are Losar, Buddha Jayanti, Chhat Parba, X-mas, Ramadan and much more. Maha Shivaratri, Janai purnima (Rakhsya bandhan), Krishna Janmaasthami, Ram Nawami and so many festivals are of utmost important. We have mentioned all important ones that are significant and revered the most.
The Bisket Jatra of Bhaktapur- Nepalese New Year
The Bisket Jatra generally falls in the mid-April each year. It is a historical town of Bhaktapur that lies to the east of Kathmandu. It is a nine days long festival celebrated at the end of Chaitra. The Bisket Jatra signifies the end of a year and the start of a new year on the Bikram Sambat calendar.Bisket jatra is called the “Festival after the death of the serpent. ” The jatra involves pulling of chariots that is dedeicated to the two deities, the wrathful god Bhairav, and goddess Bhadrakali. A few days before the jatra, chariots are built in the Bhaktapur Durbar square and later pulled by local young people through the narrow streets of Bhaktapur. On the day before the New Year, about eighty feet long huge pole, lingam made of a shore tree is erected with the efforts of thousands of people. The symbols of two dead serpents also are hung on the pole. The people offer prayer and foods to the chariot of God Bhairav in hope to rid them of suffering and troubles in the following years.
Holi is also known as the festival of colours is celebrated each year in the month of early March.Holi indicates the arrival of spring, the end of winter, the blossoming of love and for many, it is a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. The festival also celebrates the beginning of a good spring harvest season. The festival last for around a week. The people celebrate on the streets by covering themselves with colored powders, and throwing them on passers-by. So, if you are there at the time of Holi be prepared to be covered in colours without feeling awkward.
Janai Purnima or Raksha Bandhan
Janai Purnima or Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon day of August. This is day of sacred thread, a yellow string worn about the neck and underarm beneath the clothing of higher caste Hindu-Brahmins. The wearers observe certain religious rituals and undergo through fasting. The thread symbolizes that the person has control over body. On the same day men, women and children of all castes of Hindu religion wear the sacred yellow thread called RAKSHA BADHAN. Raksha means protection and Bandhan signifies bond. It is not just a thread but an eternal vow taken by the brother to protect the sister against all odds and challenges faced during the entire lifetime.
The Gai Jatra takes place after the full moon day of August – September. Gai Jatra, also known as Festival of Cows, is one of the most important festivals in Nepal. It continues for eight days. Gai Puja is mainly held by the Newar community in Kathmandu valley to commemorate the deceased in the last year. The cow procession is sent to arrest the departed soul to get to the heavenly abode amidst the defining choir of traditional musical instruments.
Dashain is by far one of the biggest and grandest of festivals observed in Nepal. It is celebrated for ten days. Dashain is celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil. On this day, people put tika and Jamara on their forehead. They visit their relatives’ house and enjoy this day merrily. People play cards and also play swing. It is believed that people should play swing at least once in a year to leave their feet off their ground. People visit the mother goddess temples across the country to make offerings, and perform tantric rituals in their homes every day without fail.
Tihar festival is also known as the festival of Lights. Tihar is dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, with the worship of dog, crow and cow respectively. It is observed for over five days in the month of October on the last day, brothers are greeted and blessed by the sisters. The crow and the dog are regarded as the envoy of the Yama, the God of Death. The first two day observes their worship. On the third day, cow is worshiped in the morning and Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth is worshiped in the evening with a belief that she would bring fortune to the worshiper. Children and elder enjoy fire crackers, go door to door singing Deusi and Bhailo (traditional Tihar song and dance) and make merry during this festival.
Loshar is primarily a Tibetan New year that falls on the first day of the bright lunar fortnight. On this day perform ancient forms of dances that have an unusual rhythm. The festival continues for weeks during which hearty feast are arranged. This festival is being celebrated by Gurung, Tamang and Sherpa communities of Nepal with great joy and pomp.
You need to know certain Do’s and Don’ts while on a trekking or a holiday tour in Nepal.
Be reminded that the ancient cultures have certain taboos in place, and for anyone visiting Nepal. It is essential to know what they are, to avoid embarrassment and offending the local people. Respect for the local cultures is important, and you should treat both the people and the land with care and respect. Some of which are deemed as below:
– If you want to show gratitude and respect, then use both of your hands rather than one.
– Do not to point with a single finger; use a flat extended hand, especially when indicating a sacred object or place.
– Avoid touching women and holy men. In Nepal, people do not normally shake hands when they greet one another. Instead, they press their palms together in a prayer-like gesture, known as “Namaste”.
– While eating use your right hand only. It is considered an uncivilized act to use the left hand for eating.
– Nepal is a conservative country so wearing western dresses is not our culture, so you must be careful not to wear anything provocative or sexually enticing. Women should wear full, long-sleeved dresses, and avoid showing too much bare skin. Short skirts and shorts should not be used.