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Festivals of Nepal

Nepalese have preserved and continued thousands of years old festivals and traditions. Hence, you will find an innumerable number of colorful festivals throughout the year. No matter in which season you visit Nepal you will find one kind of festival or another.

Nepal has many kinds of festivals. All Nepalese observe the national festivals. Some regions celebrate regional festivals. Different ethnic groups observe local festivals. All Nepalese together have more than 50 major festivals they celebrate not less than 120days a year. The interwoven prevailing pattern of Hinduism and Buddhism allows the devotees of one religion to take part in the other’s festival. Nepalese have the holidays during the national festivals and regional holidays for regional festivals.

The following festivals listed under different months indicate how often Nepalese celebrate their festivals.

January- February : Seto Macchindra Nath Snan: This is a local and ethnic festival of bathing Seto Macchindra Nath in Kathmandu. Basanta Panchami and Swaraswoti Puja: This is a national festival. Basanta Panchami is for announcing the beginning of a spring season. The king and other royal family members attend the religious ceremony performed to announce the onset of a spring season. All Nepalese make offerings to the Goddess of Learning called Saraswoti. Nepalese believe that She came to Nepal from Lhasa on this Day. Small children learn to write first letters of alphabets on this auspicious day.

February-March : Shiva Ratri: This is a national festival. This is the most important day for the Hindus to make pilgrimage to the shrines of lord Shiva. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims from all over the kingdom and also from India gather at the Pashupati Temple in Kathmandu on this day. Devotees not being able to make a trip to the Pashupati Temple visit the shrines of Lord Shiva elsewhere.

Lhosar: This is a regional as well as ethnic festival. Nepalese such as Sherpas and Tamangs of the Tibetan origin observe this festival. Most of them live in the northern region of Nepal. People of these ethnic groups have the holidays for celebrating this festival.

This is a national festival observed for eight days but only the last is the national holiday. People often call it the festival of color because enthusiasts celebrate it throwing color powder or liquid on each other. Nepalese in the Terai region celebrate it one day after than other regions.

This is a local festival celebrated in Kathmandu. Nepalese living in the Kathmandu Valley have an off day to observe this festival. Ethnic Newars celebrate it performing various religious activities. Nepal army organizes a horse race and other activities for entertainment on this day.

Seto Macchindra Rath Jatra:
This is a local and ethnic Newar festival lasting three days of chariot pulling festivals celebrated in Kathmandu. During these days Seto Macchindra Nath travels on a chariot from Kamaladi to Lagan Tole.

April - May: Bisket Jatra: This is an ethnic Newar festival observed for nine days with various kinds of religious activities such as pulling two chariots - one Bhairav and another for his consort Bhadrakali, and pulling up a conscerted wooden pole in Bhaktapur. However, the most important days are the Nepalese New Year Eve and the New Year Day. The New Year Day is a national holiday.

Matatirtha Jayanti:This is a Mother’s Day observed throughout the country without a national holiday. Nepalese have been observing this day since thousands of years ago. People having no mother go to Matatirtha, take a holy dip and make offerings to their deceased mothers.

Buddha Jayanti: This is national festival observed throughout the country. Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Nepalese observe the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha on this day. Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world pour in Swoyambhu, Boudha, Lumbini and other Buddhist shrines to celebrate the occasion with great adoration.

May- June:
Sitinakha:This is a typical ethnic Newar festival observed to honor God Kumar. On this occasion Newars in the Kathmandu Valley clean the water wells, make offerings to God Kumar, and prepare various kinds of cakes from beans.

Tulsi Bijaropan:
This is a Hindu festival. Nepalese transplant a basal plant called Tulsi on this day and worship it for four months believing that Lord Vishnu incarnates in it while he stays on guarding Bali Raja in the underworld.

July - August:
Gai Jatra:This is a national festival but having a regional importance because only the people in the Kathmandu Valley enjoy the holiday for celebrating Gai Jatra. On this day families of deceased persons take out make-believe cows to the streets of the towns in Nepal. The belief that in doing so they help their deceased dear ones to open a door the world of Yamraj- the lord of departed souls.

This is a national festival. Hindus observe the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna on this day. They take out the idol of Lord Krishna on the streets of major towns in Nepal. Thousands of devotees gather at the Krishna Temple, Patan to worship Lord Krishna and receive His Blessings from early morning until mid-night on this day.

This is the Hindu woman festival observed for the long lives of their spouses. Only women enjoy the holiday on this day. Married women for the long lives of their spouses and unmarried women for having good spouses observe this festival fasting, singing dancing and making offerings to Lord Shiva. Hindu women dress up in their red sari to celebrate the festival at the temples of Lord Shiva throughout the kingdom.

August - September: Dashain:This is a nine days national festival. The Government closes its offices for eight days. The Courts stopWorking for a fortnight. The teaching institutions are closed for a fortnight. The teaching institutions are closed for almost a month. Nepalese sacrifice a large number of male buffaloes, goats, ducks and chickens to Almighty Goddess Durga, then eat the meat of those birds and animals as the blessing of the Goddess. During Dashain everyone else in the family receive new pair of clothes along Tika and blessing from the elders

Mani Rimdu:
This is an ethnic Sherpa festival observed at Tyanboche Monastery in the Everest Region. This is one of the most important festivals of the Sherpa community. They celebrate it performing dances, prayer, and feasting for five days. October- November:

This is a national festival observed for five days. The government closes for three days. On this occasion Nepalese do not make sacrifices of birds and animals rather perform worship to them. On the first day they make offerings to crows, on the second day to dogs, on the third day to cows, on the fourth day to bulls and the ethnic Newars perform self- offerings, and on the fifth day sisters make offerings to brothers. Some people call it is a festival of lights because Nepalese illuminate their houses for three nights starting on the third day’s night. The Newar Community celebrates the New Year Day on the fourth day of this festival.