Festivals of Nepal

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Festivals of Nepal

Basanta Panchami

On this day, most of the people in Nepal worship Goddess of learning called “SARASWATI”. In Kathmandu valley, people go to a little shrine near Swayambhunath to worship the Goddess of Learning.

Maha Shivatri

This is the most popular festival celebrated in honour of Shiva. It takes place at all Shiva temples, but the greatest attraction takes place at Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. One gets to see thousands of Hindus devotees from India and Nepal coming to visit the temple of Pashupatinath. Among them are a large number of Sadhus and Naked ascetics. Many people like to keep awake for the whole night keeping vigilance over an oil lamp burnt to please Shiva. In the afternoon the Nepal Army organises a show to celebrate this festival at Tundikhel in which series of gun fire are sounded.

Fagu Purnima (Holi)

Holi, named after the mythical demons of Holika, is also known as the festival of color. It is observed just before the full moon of Phalgun and during this time people indulge in colour throwing at each other. Singing and dancing continues until late at night.

Seto Machhendranath Jatra

On this day a popular festival held in honour of the white Machhendranath, who is actually the Padmapani Lokeswara, whose permanent shrine is situated at Matsyendra Bahal in Kel Tole in the middle of the bazaar in Kathmandu. A huge chariot of wood supported on four large wheels and carrying tall spire covered with green foliage is made ready for receiving the image of the divinity on this occasion and for dragging in the old town. There is such a spontaneous and heavy turnout of the devotees to pay homage to this God, who is also said to be “ Embodiment of Compassion” at this time.

Ram Nawami

This day celebrates the birth of Rama, one of the incarnation of Vishnu, a prominent Hindu God. Religious fast is observed and worship is offered to Rama. A special celebration takes place at Janakpur temple of Rama and Janaki on this day.

The Nepalese New Year’s Days

New Year's Day, which falls in the middle of April, is observed thoughout Nepal as the first day of the official Nepali solar calander. In Kathmandu Valley, Bisket Jatra is held at Bhadgaon (Bhaktapur) to commemorate the death of two serpent demons.

Rato Machhendranath Jatra

One of the most famous and spectacular event that begins with the chariot journeys of the most widely venerated deity of the Nepal valley, who resides in his twin shrines at Patan and Bungamati. His popular name is Bunga Deo, but non Newars call him also by the name of Red Machhendranath. The wheeled chariot is prepared at pulchowk and pulled through the narrow streets Patan town in several stages until several month later it reaches Jawalakhel for the final celebration of this festival called the Bhoto Dekhaune Jatra. The two Machhendranath of Patan and Kathmandu form part of same cult of Avalokiteswara in the Mahayan religion.

Buddha Jayanti

Celebrated on the full moon of the month of Baisakh to commemorate the birth attainment of enlightenment and the death of Gautam Buddha, the founder preacher of Buddhism, prayer is offered by the Buddhists in leading Buddhist shrines throughout the country including Lumbini in the Rupandehi district, which is the birth place of Buddha.

Janai Purnima ( Rakchshya Bandhan)

The full moon of the month of Shrawan, the day when this festival is observed is considered sacred all over Nepal and is celebrated in different manner by various groups of people of Nepal. However, the most widely accepted mode of celebration is that on this day all the twice-born caster take ritual bath and they change their sacred thread. Everyone gets strings of thread on his wrist from the Brahmans a protective mark for the whole year. This day is also held sacred for bathing in Gosainkunda. One can also see a pageantry of the Jhankris attired in their traditional costume as they come to bathe at Kumbheshwor at Patan. These Jhankris also visit the temple of Kalinchowk Bhagwati in Dolkhas district where they go to bet their healing powers as they are the traditional healers of the Nepalese villages.

Indra Jatra

In the morning a tall wooden pole representing the statue of Indra and large wooden masks of Bhairab are put on display in the bazaar. Several groups of religious dance like the Devinach, Bhairava and Bhakku as well as Mahankalinach come into life during this week. The week also commences with pulling of chariot of Ganesh, Bhairava and Kumari in Kathmandu. On this historical day, King Prithvi Narayan Shah made a victorious march with his troops into the town and ascended the throne of Kantipur the old name of Kathmandu displacing the Malla King Jaya Prakash Malla.

Gai Jatra (The Cow festival)

In this festival recently bereaved family honour the soul of their dead by sending young boys dressed up as cows parade the streets of the town. Some are also dressed up as an ascetic or a fool for achieving the same objective for their dead family members. People give food and coins to members of each procession. Groups of mimics improvise short satirical enactment on the current social scenes of the town for the entertainment of the public.

The festivity of Gai Jatra itself lasts for a week enlivened by the performance of dance and drama in the different localities of the town. The spirit of the old festival is being increasingly adapted by cultural centers, newspaper and magazines to fling humour and satire on the Nepalese Social and Political life.

Shree Krishna Janmaastami

The day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, one of the incarnation of Vishnu. Devotees observe fast and visit Krishna’s temple on this day.


This is the three days festival for the Nepalese women. Nepalese women fast and worship Shiva. In Kathmandu Valley they go to Pashupatinath and then worship Shiva (Hindu God of Destruction) for good fortune and long life for husband.

Vijaya Dashami

It is truly the national festival of Nepal celebrated countrywide by all. The Nepalese cherish their Dashain as time for eating well and dressing well. Each house sets up an shrine to worship the powerful Goddess Durga at this time. Barley seeds are planted on the first day in every household and nurtured for nine days. During this period Goddess Durga Bhawani is worshipped and offered a lot of blood sacrifices. Buffaloes, goats, chickens and ducks are sacrificed by the thousands at the temples at military posts and in every household. On the concluding day of the festival called the Tika, the elders of the family give Tika to their junior members and to other relatives who may also come to seek their blessings. Family feasting and feting of guests is a common practice at this time. During this festival Government institutions and school are closed for ten to fifteen days.


It lasts for five days and is marked by worship to different animals such as crow, the dog and the cow, five various days. The most important day is Laxmi puja. The most endearing sight of this festival is presented by the illumination of the entire town with rows of tiny flickering lamps on Laxmi puja. In the evening of this day, the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi is worshipped at every household and it is on her welcome that myriad of lamps are burnt. On the fifth day sister show their affection towards their brothers with puja and feed them with delectable food. They pray for their brothers long life to Yama, the Hindu God of death.

Bala Chaturdasi

Nepalese beleive that for one year after the death, the soul of the dead wanders around awaiting entrance to the under world. Relatives perform rituals and offerings are given in the name of the dead.

Maghe Sankranti

A Sankranti signifies the first day of any month in the Nepali calendar year. The first day of the month of Magh, which falls in January is sacred day in Nepal, because the sun, on this day, is believed to be astrologically in a good position. It starts on its northward journey in its heavenly course on this day, thus announcing the commencement of the Uttarayana. In the Nepalese belief this day marks the division of the Winter and Summer Solstices. Bathing in rivers is prescribed from this day, especially at the river confluence and feasting with rich foods of special preparation is common in the family.


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