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Festivals in Nepal
Nepal is known as the land of majestic Himalayas and natural beauty. But it is equally a land of diversity and colorful festivals. There are many colorful festivals during monsoon season, which are celebrated on the basis of lunar calendar. If you are in Nepal during rainy season, being a part of these festivals can be a lifetime experience for you. Nag Panchami, Janai Purnima, Gai Jatra, Indra Jatra and Krishna Ashtami are five major monsoon festivals.



TAMU LHOSAR
31st December 2019
Abiding the lunar calendar Tamang, Magar, Gurung and other Himalayan communities of Nepal celebrate Tamu Lhosar as their New Year during the month of December. Monasteries are attractively adorned with colorful decorative items.

People take blessings from monks for their progress, prosperity and happiness. Each home raises a flag on top of its roof. A party is organized at home and invitations are forwarded to relatives and friends. Delicious food, music and dance become the essence of party. Greetings and gifts are exchanged.



TAMU LHOSAR
31st December 2019
Abiding the lunar calendar Tamang, Magar, Gurung and other Himalayan communities of Nepal celebrate Tamu Lhosar as their New Year during the month of December. Monasteries are attractively adorned with colorful decorative items.

People take blessings from monks for their progress, prosperity and happiness. Each home raises a flag on top of its roof. A party is organized at home and invitations are forwarded to relatives and friends. Delicious food, music and dance become the essence of party. Greetings and gifts are exchanged.



CHHAT PARVA
20th November 2020
Chhath Parva, attracts thousands of pilgrims to the holy town of Janakpur in south-eastern Nepal. But it is celebrated all over Nepal including Kathmandu where people from the Terai gather along the banks of rivers especially Bagmati to worship. The goal they say is to achieve purity both physical and spiritual.



Devotees from Nepal and India throng the ancient city of Janakpur to worship at the famous Janaki Temple and take ritual baths in the rivers and ponds. It is a three-day festival with the first day spent in cleaning the kitchen and preparing for the fast.


On the second day, devotees fast from the morning and spend the day preparing their offerings of fruits, sweets and nuts etc. In the evening they gather at the banks of rivers and ponds to wait for the sun to set. They light lamps, sing songs and wade into the water to pray and make offerings to the fading sun. Lighted oil-wick lamps are set afloat on the river and it is a beautiful sight to behold.

After the sun goes down the devotees return home. The worshippers are almost exclusively women with most men just watching. The ritual is repeated the next morning at dawn when they wait for the sun to rise. As the sun comes up over the horizon there is euphoria and devotees scramble to offer prayers, holy water, fruits, coconuts and sacred threads.


The ritual is also to ask the sun for protection from skin diseases. When it is over the offerings are distributed and the women break their fast.



BADA DASHAIN
17th to 26th October 2020


This is the longest Hindu festival in Nepal, traditionally celebrated for two weeks with prayers and offerings to Durga, the Universal Mother Goddess. The great harvest festival of Nepal, Dashain is a time for family reunions, exchange of gifts and blessings, and elaborate pujas. Dashain honors the Goddess Durga, who was created out of the shakti or energy of all the gods, armed with weapons from each of them.

Goddess Durga, symbolizing valor and prowess, is worshipped and offered sacrifices to ensure the devotees' progress and prosperity. During the first ten days, pilgrims flock to various river confluences early in the morning and sacred shrines in the evening. Ghatasthapana, Phool Pati, Mahaastami, Nawami and Vijaya Dashami are the series of the events under Dashain each marked with a different set of rituals.



During Dashain, men and women in their fineries visit their elders to seek tika (a dab of red vermilion mixed with yogurt and rice) accompanied by blessings. Sword precessions (Paayaa) are also held in various part of the Kathmandu Valley. A large number of animals are officially sacrificed at Hanuman Dhoka during Nawami which is attended by officials, invitees and visitors.

During the ninth day, the Taleju Temple which is normally out of bounds is also open to the public. The last day, known as Kojagrat Purnima, is the full moon. New clothes, home visits, grand feasts, kite flying and village swings are the highlights of Dashain. Around this time the population of Kathmandu is greatly reduced as many head home to various parts of the country.

On the tenth day known as Tika, people are seen moving around with their foreheads covered with rice tika, wearing new clothes. There is much feasting as people visit relatives’ homes to receive tika and blessings.



INDRA JATRA
1st September 2020


The eight-day long Indra Jatra festival falls in September and is one of the most exciting and revered festivals of the Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley.  This also marks the beginning of a month-long festival season of autumn. It begins with the erection of a wooden pole made of pine at Basantapur Sqaure in front of the old Hanuman Dhoka Palace.

For the pole-raising ceremony, hundreds of spectators gather at the Palace Square and on the surrounding temples. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out in a procession through the main streets of Kathmandu.


Masked dancers known as Lakhay take to the streets almost every evening accompanied by loud drums. The festival commemorates the time when Indra came down from heaven in human form to look for an herb.

Each night of Indra Jatra the shrines and ancient palace buildings around Kathmandu Durbar Square are aglow with oil wicks. Each night on the platform in front of the temple of the Living Goddess, there is an enactment depicting the ten earthly incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The large image of Akash Bhairab's head is put on display out in the open directly facing his temple at Indra Chowk.


In the afternoon of the day before full moon, ecstatic mobs gather near Hanuman Dhoka Palace for the long-awaited Living Goddess’ chariot procession to catch a glimpse of the revered little Newar girl who has been deified as Kumari representing Goddess Taleju.

The chariot of the Kumari followed by two other smaller chariots carrying a representative of Ganesh and Bhairav is taken to different parts of the old Kathmandu through the narrow alleys where people gather to watch and py homage. The festival of Indra Jatra ends with the lowering of the (lingam) pole bearing Indra's flag amidst religious ceremonies.



KRISHNA ASHTAMI
11th August 2020


The birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated as Krishn Ashtami. Krishna, the dark- skinned god revered as a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, who taught warrior Arjuna the value of Karma in the Bhagwad Gita, was born at midnight on the eighth day of the dark moon of August which is known as ashtami..

To celebrate the birthday of this popular Hindu god, devotees flock to Krishna temples all over Nepal; Kathmandu Valley's Krishna Mandir in Patan Durbar Square is the centere of celebrations and is thronged by a large number of devotees who gather at night to pay homage beyond mid-night. Even during the day, hordes of devotees visit the temple to pray and make offerings .

At night, men and women from far and wide gather in and around the 17th century stone temple singing praises of Lord Krishna waiting for the midnight hour. Euphoric prayers and incantations fill the air, and small oil lamps are lit as a mark of felicitation and devotion to the god.

Images of Lord Krishna are also carried around the city in processions accompanied by joyous crowds of followers and musical troupes. Along the lanes of old Kathmandu people display framed pictures of Krishna showing various episodes of his amazing life.



 EVEREST DAY
 29th May 2020


Nepal celebrates Mt. Everest Day on May 29 every year in memory of the first summit of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa on the day in 1953. The day is celebrated with memorial events, processions, and special events in Kathmandu and the Everest region.
 
The Mt. Everest Day celebration has been a significant occasion for the promotion of Nepal’s mountain tourism. Participants include ministers, climbers, tourism entrepreneurs and government officials.



In April 2020
RAM NAVAMI
2nd April 2020


Ram Navami is a day celebrated in honor and memory of Lord Ram, who is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is celebrated mostly fondly by Nepali people, visiting nearby temple of Lord Ram with flowers and other offerings. For Hindus, Lord Ram symbolizes "the ideal man". His victory Ravan is seen as the manifestation of good over evil even in the most dire situations.

Ram or Vishnu temples all over Kathmandu valley and in different parts of Nepal are thronged with devotees on this day. Ram Mandir in Battisputali, Changu Narayan in Bhaktapur, and Budhanilkantha Temple, Ichangu Narayan and Bichangu Narayan in Kathmandu outskirts are filled with devotees on this day. The Ram Janaki Temple in Janakpur also hosts thousands of visitors on this day.



NEW YEAR'S DAY 2077
13th April 2020


Nepali people follow their own calendar system known as the Bikram Era or Bikram Sambat. New Year is called Nava Varsha in Nepali language and is observed as an official holiday. The day usually falls in the second week of April. During this occasion people go for picnics, have get-togethers and celebrate the day socializing in various ways.

Various rituals are conducted and yearly annual carnivals like Bisket Jatra, Sindoor Jatra and Bode Jatra are passionately carried out to welcome the New Year in traditional style. New Year's Eve events and parties are also organized at clubs, hotels and restaurants for party lovers.

Bikram Sambat is 56.7 years ahead of the solar Gregorian calendar. It uses lunar months starting from Baisakh in mid April, Jestha in mid May, Ashar in mid June, Shrawan in mid July, Bhadra in mid August, Asoj in mid September, Kartik in mid October, Mangsir in mid November, Poush in mid December, Magh in mid January, Falgun in mid February, and Chaitra in mid March.



BISKET JATRA
13th April 2020


Bisket Jatra, Bhaktapur's weeklong festival marks the ancient solar Nava Barsha (New Year) and is the only festival that does not follow the lunar-based Nepali calendar. The jatra commences after a special Tantric ritual in th Bhairab temple in Taumadhi Tole in Bhaktapur.


Bhairav and Bhadrakali are then placed in large chariots (locally known as Rathas) and pulled through crowds of cheering onlookers. During the festival people replay a drama passed on over the centuries.

The chariots, pause for a tuge of war between the easterna and western sides of town and then move down a steep road leading to a river, where a 25-m high lingam (vertical pole) is erected. In the evening the following day, the pole is pulled down, again in a tug of war and as the pole crashes as the official new year commences.

 

Bisket Jatra is also celebrated in Thimi and Balakhu with Jibro Chhedne Jatra and Sindoor Jatra respectively. The festivities conclude with several days of spiritual entrancement, dancing and merry-making.



SINDOOR JATRA
13th April 2020


On the third day of the 10-day Bisket Jatra, male representatives from various quarters of Thimi and from the surrounding villages in Bhaktapur bring out a procession of 32 palanquins called khats with images of different gods.

As the 32 khats come together, sindoor (vermillion powder) is hurled at them and the ceremony reaches fever pitch as the khat bearing Ganesha arrives from the village of Nagadish. Crowds parade up and down the streets until late morning when Ganesha, borne by hundreds of men, makes a break for home, pursued by other khats.

 
If the latter can catch Ganesha, the activities are prolonged, but eventually Ganesha departs and the festival moves on to Taleju Temple. Later, in the day, crowds swarm to Bode to witness the tongue-boring festival.



BODE JATRA
13th April 2020


North of Thimi in Bhaktapur, an important temple of a Tantric deity Mahalakshmi brings about a strange tongue-boring ritual that falls during Nepali New Year. The temple's priest drives a thin metal needle through the tongue of the male volunteer who prepares for the day through several days of purification and fasting.

The man then parades the Bode village bearing a bamboo rack of oil lit lamps and has the needle removed on returning to the temple. The wound is then crammed with mud scraped from the temple's floor and the man is said to earn great religious merit in absence of bleeding.

March

HOLI FAGU PURNIMA
9th March 2020


Spring not only brings new life but also the festival of Holi, a Hindu festival also known as Fagu Purnima, celebrated on a full-moon day at the end of the month of Falgun, which falls between mid-February and mid-May.

Celebrated by rubbing colored powder on each other's faces, the use of colored water to spray on each other is also prevelent. The harbinger of good and balmy spring weather, Holi is celebrated all over Nepal but more so in the southern Tarai region. Holi will be celebrated on March 1 in the hills, while in the Terai the festival will be celebrated a day later, on March 2. Legend has it that this festival originated as celebration of the death of the Demoness Holika.

This wicked woman, who was supposed to be indestructible by fire had made several attempts and failed to kill her nephew, Prahlad, a devoutee of Lord Vishnu. Eventually, she grabbed the boy and jumped into an inferno, confident that the boy would perish in te blaze while she would escape unscathed. But miraculously, the boy remained unharmed while Holika succumbed to the fire which completely destroyed her.



In Kathmandu Valley, Fagu Poornima begins on the first day with the raising of  a pole around noon in front of Kumari House, Durbar Square. Holi is popular for the revelry that surrounds this festival as people douse each other with water and colors. Foreigners especially tourists readily take part in the merriment and get drenched in colorful water as there are no rituals involved in playing.


On thefinal day, the pole known as Chir is brought down, dragged to Tudikhel and burnt to cinders. The ashes are carried home by devotees as it is believed it will provide them protection against evil.




GHODE JATRA
24th March 2020


A grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel, the central point of the city where many events take place. Legend has it that the demon Tundi was killed here. Ghode Jatra, the Horse Racing Day falls in mid-March or early April (March 17, this year).

Tundi had terrorized people for a long time until one day he was slain and people rejoiced by riding horses over his body. So it's believed that the clamor of horses' hooves at Tundikhel during the festival of Ghode Jatra keeps the demon's sprit at bay as it is believed he is still a threat to the city.


It is said that the faster the horses run, the quicker Tundi's spirit will be subdued; hence the horse racing and all the acrobatics at Tudikhel. The festival is attended by the army top brass, the top government officials and diplomats.

Huge crowds gather around Tudikhel to watch but they are not allowed to enter the Tudikhel. The army also takes it as an opportunity to display their skills as paratroopers drop down from planes flying close overhead.


Another event related to Ghode Jatra takes place at Bal Kumari in Patan where a horse is fed alcoholic spirits until it is intoxicated and an equally drunk person in a traditional Newari attire rides it. People shout to frighten and enrage the animal until it runs wildly with the rider clinging on to it for dear life.

In Feb

WORLD TANTRA YOGA FESTIVAL AND SACRED PILGRIMAGE
21st February 2020 to 2nd March 2020


Join us for this once in a lifetime journey at the foothills of the Himilayas.

Experience the mysticism of Nepal, the land of Yoga, birthplace of Shiva and Buddha.

This festival will encompass the most consecrated sites throughout the beautiful Kathmandu Valley and the teachings from yoga masters from a wealth of traditions and lineages; providing a divine opportunity to share, learn and practice from those most adept in the art of yoga. It promises to be a truly unique event drawing together cultures, traditions and teachings from across the world. It is an opportunity to evolve spiritually by going deep into the essence of yoga in the land in which yoga itself was born.

Dates:


World Tantra Yoga Festival.  February 21 - 23rd 2020
Sacred Pilgrimage.  February 24th - March 2nd 2020


Itinerary
Day 1 (20th Feb) – Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2 (21st Feb) – Shanti Yoga Ashram
Day 3 (22nd Feb) – Pashupatinath and Boudhanath visit
Day 4 (23rd Feb) – Bhaktapur sightseeing and Yoga
Day 5 (24th Feb) – Drive to Pokhara
Day 6 (25th Feb) – Activities in Pokhara
Day 7 (26th Feb) – Activities in Pokhara
Day 8 (27th Feb) – Activities in Pokhara
Day 9 (28th Feb) – Drive to Chitwan
Day 10 (29th Feb) – Activities in Chitwan
Day 11 (1st March) – Devghat visit
Day 12 (2nd March) – Ending ceremony at Shanti Yoga Ashram




In Jan

MAGHI MAGHE SANKRANTI
15th January 2020


Maghe Sankranti is celebrated on the first day of Magh (around mid-January). Nepali people celebrate it as the beginning of the auspicious month of Magh.

The festival is a harbinger of longer and relatively warmer days in comparison to the cold month of Poush. On this day, the sun is believed to start moving toward the Northern Hemisphere. In that sense, Maghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions.


Hindus celebrate this festival by taking ritual dip in holy river confluences, most notably in Devghat, Chitwan. Families get together during the day and eat meals together. Sesame seed laddus, molasses, ghee, sweet potatoes and yam are included in the menu. People worship Lord Vishnu during the month by offering him pujas and reading the  sacred Bhagwad Gita, also known as The Song of the Gods.

The first day of Magh is also celebrated in the Terai by the Tharu community as Maghi or New Year. It is a weeklong festival celebrated by getting together as a family and friends, attending community get together or mela, dressing up in the traditional Tharu wear, eating, drinking and making merry.