Festivals and calendar
Nepal has more festivals than the number of days in a year. A festival is always a meaningful and memorable event in the life of Nepalese people. Every festival has some purpose to serve. From bringing in the rain to honoring the dead or averting calamities, every festival has something spiritual about it. Festival is a way of life in Nepal . With the number of festivals that Nepal has, it is one of the best ways to understand and appreciate the Nepalese ways of life. The date of Nepali festivals are according to the lunar calendar. Hence the date of festivals varies from year to year. The list of festivals is as follows:
April – May
Nepali New Year
Bisket: Festival of the God Bhairab in Bhaktapur. Four days of colorful parades and processions
Rato Machhendranath: The festival of Lokeswar, one of the patron Gods of Kathmandu. A 40-foot tall chariot with the God’s image installed is pushed and pulled through the streets by hundreds of worshippers.
Buddha Jyanti: Celebrating the birth of Lord Buddha
May – June
Kumar Sasthi: A celebration of the birth of the Hindu warrior God Kumar marks the beginning of the rice planting season. It’s also celebrated by groups of boys who indulge in stone throwing fights.
June – July
No major festivals in the worst of the monsoon season.
July – August
Ghanta Kharna: A festival commemorating an ancient victory over a particularly malevolent devil, Gathemuga. Mock funerals are held and figures burned in effigy.
Gunla: A Buddhist Lent or Ramadan-like holy month of penance and pilgrimage, climaxing in a rollicking celebration.
Naga Panchami: A festival devoted to the snake gods, who most Nepalese believe ruled the Valley before the coming of people.
Janai Purnia: Tthe festival of changing of the sacred thread which every Brahmin caste Hindu male wears around his torso.
August – September
Gaijatra: A festival to the sacred cow. Among other symbolisms of the cow, cows are believed to lead the souls of the dead to the underworld; and on Gaijatra Newar households process around an ancient path believed to mark the city walls of times past, in honor of recently deceased members of their families. It’s also a carnival celebration with practical jokes – something like Mardi Gras combined with April Fool’s day.
Krishna Asthami: Celebrating the birth of the Hindu God Krishna.
Tij Brata – A woman’s’ festival . Worshippers undergo fasting and penance and seek good fortune and long life, and a ritual purification of self. The three (or four) day celebration ends with a great feast.
September – October
Indrajatra – This festival officially begins with the raising of a 50-feet tall ceremonial pole at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu . A weeklong traditional display of old images of Akash Bhairavs is one of the highlights of this festival. The ceremonial pulling of the rath (chariot) of the Kumari, the chariots of Ganesh and Bhairav accompany the Virgin or Living Goddess.
Dasain: The biggest and most widely celebrated national festival in Nepal , usually falls in early October. It begins with Ghatsthapana. Of the two full weeks of celebrations, the 8th, 9th and 10th are the most eventful and auspicious days. The main deity worshipped during Dashain is Goddess Durga. On the 9th day, thousands of devotees visit important Durga temples to worship her. The tenth day is climax day. People visits to seniors for Tika (blessings). The ministers, high ranking officials, general public queue to get Tika from their Majesty in Royal Palace .
October – November
Tihar: It is also known as Diwali or Deepavali, is the festival of lights in Nepal . The celebrations continue for five days. It is an annual festival celebrated in the bright blue days of autumn. The festival begins with the worship of crows, followed by the worship of dogs on the 2nd day. On the 3rd day, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped. On the 5th day, one’s own soul is worshipped. Sisters also worship their brothers on this day. This is called Bhai Tika, and is a great day and the grand finale to Tihar.
November – December
Indriani Puja – Festival of the Goddess Indriana and of the carious mother goddesses which protect each village in Nepal .
Sita Bibaha Panchami: Celebrating the wedding of the Goddess Sita and the God Ram with mock wedding processions
Dhanya Purnima: A full moon festival celebrating the end of the rice harvest.
Mani Rimdu: It is one of the most fascinating High Himalayan Buddhist festivals observed every year, usually
in November. Tengboche, the world’s highest monastery located in Solu Khumbu district of Nepal, is the focal point for the celebration of this festival. The main attraction of this festival is the various masked dances of religious significance.
December – January
Seto Machhendranath – A cleansing ritual for the White (seto) Machhendranath, a counterpart god to the Red (rato) Machhendranath who’s chariot procession is in April-May.
January – February
Losar: It is one of the greatest festivals of significant importance to the Sherpas and peoples of Tibetan origin. It is celebrated every year in February. The focus of this festival centers around the celebration of the Tibetan New Year. Many fascinating rituals and celebrations may be observed in Boudha and in Tibetan settlements such as the Tibetan Refugee Camp at Jawlakhel, Patan.
February – March
Shiva Ratri – The all day and all night festival of the great God Shiva.
Holi – a rowdy festival of “colors”, in which participants douse themselves (and sometimes unwary onlookers) with colored powder and liquid, and generally have a great time.
March – April
Ram Nawami is a big day for the Nepalese Hindu. It is celebrated in the honor of the great Hindu King Ram, and takes place around March. The main deity to be worshipped on this occasion is Goddess Durga . The holy Hindu scriptures say that Ram was able to kill his archenemy, Ravana, the dreaded demon, by the blessings of Goddess Durga. This day symbolizes the victory of virtue over vice, or of good over evil.
Ghodejatra: A horse festival, celebrated with coach processions, horse racing, and military displays on the main parade ground in Kathmandu