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Festivals of Nepal

Nepal is a country with more temples than houses, more god and goddess than people and more festivals than days in a Year” as said by Sir Kirk Patrick. He was the first recorded westerner to visit Nepal.  Nepal has more than 125 different ethnic groups mainly or Indian and Tibetan origin. All theses ethnic groups have a distinct lifestyle and a different tradition resulting in colorful vibrant festivals celebrated in pretext of socio-cultural heritages. The rich heritages of Hinduism and Buddhism have resulted in the numerous festivals and occasions to celebrate. The festivals in Nepal are one of the major reasons behind the strong unity and the tolerance among the people here.

Maghe Sangranti (January)
It is a celebration of the harvest festival. People take dips in rivers and worship the Sun God especially in the holy river. The dip is said to purify the self and bestow "punya". Special Puja is offered as a thanksgiving for good harvest. According to folklore, girls who take the holy dip get handsome husbands and boys get beautiful brides.

Basanta Panchami (February)
Shree panchami or Saraswati Puja is also known as Basanta Panchami which is renowned on the month of February in the respect of deity Saraswati, which is considered as the deity of knowledge and learning. This particular day is very famous for the children and students. In this day children and students take bath and worship the deity Saraswati and the books and copies and other reading and writing materials. They considered that worshipping Saraswati widen up their knowledge horizon and their studies will goes further fruitfully and sustainably. This day is also famous for the cultural and religious implication for Buddhists who prioritize this day for worshipping God Manjushree.

Lhosar (February)
Lhosar is a new year celebrated by Sherpa's and Tibetans. They celebrate this with the joy and happiness with their family and relatives with music and dance. They wear good and fine clothes as well as jewellery and share gifts and present to each other. At monasteries priests execute ceremony to carry auspiciousness. Bouddha and Swayambhu stupas are decorated by means of bright beautiful adornment and so are the houses. People toss roasted barley flour, also called tsampa, on the sky as a symbol of friendly their New Year.

Maha Shivaratri (March)
Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and one of the three main gods in Hinduism is among the most popular gods. Hindus from all across the Indian sub-continent and the world including from countries like Singapore, Malaysia and even from North America and Europe gather around the Pashupatinath temple to celebrate the biggest night of lord shiva.  The holy men known as Sadhus are the major attraction among visitors. They are seen in various attire and are flying high after smoking marijuana. The wanderings sages, who emulate Shiva, rub ashes over their bodies, give lectures to disciples, meditate, or practice yoga. Devotees pray to Shiva's image inside the temple at midnight and may queue for upto six hours to look at the image. Bonfires are lit, neighbors and friends share food, and devotees enjoy two days and a night of music, song, and dance throughout Pashupatinath complex and in the streets. This is one of the biggest gatherings of people in south Asia after the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad.

Fagu Poornima (March)
One of the most interesting and famous festivals of the Indian Subcontinent, Holi marks the end of the winter gloom and rejoices over the starting of the spring time. It is the best time and season to celebrate; People play with different colors. It is festivals which develops the feeling of friend ship and brotherhood among the people.

Gathemangal or Ghantakarna (April)
Gathemangal is renowned on 8th April and has an extraordinary implication to Newari community of Nepal. It is also called Gathan-muga. At the occasion when Newari population used to rely greatly on farming for living, they were very irrational about wickedness strength spelling wickedness on their crop and so they asked with Tantric to eternally ward off this terror. People way back then were asked to place on iron rings on fingers and hammer iron nails into door lintels to drive away wickedness strength. As the time growth, this practice also increased reputation and lastly took the figure of a fiesta named Gathemangal.

New Year (April)
The Nepalese follow a different calendar where the first month falls in April. This is one of the biggest festivals for Nepalese. Though it is celebrated all over the country, the biggest celebrations are marked in Bhaktapur, the city of Devotees.  The celebration in Bhaktapur goes on for a week in the name of Bisket Jatra. A huge chariot of Bhairav, the aggressive form of lord Shiva is taken around and pulled by thousands of people. Since it is spring at this time of the year you can combine other trips with this festival.

Bisket Jatra (April)
Bisket jatra is celebrated in the 14th of April in Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur. People carry the sculpture of deity almighty Bhairabnath all around Bhaktapur. With the chariot of Bhairav next chariot carrying God Ganesh, Goddess Mahakali and Maha Laxmi are also dragged. Local community worships these chariots and the deities. In this day people of the Bhaktapur district performs many street dramas on the base of the Bisket Jatra. On this particular day people of Thimi get pleasure from tongue-piercing at Bode village.

Chaite Dashain and Ram Nawami (April)
This day is celebrated to honor the birth of Lord Ram, the legendary King of Aayodhya who killed Ravan the demon king of Lanka to rescue his wife Sita. This festival also marks the victory of truth over evil. People celebrate this festival with great happiness by worshipping Lord Ram and forfeiting the goats and other animals like hen, duck, buffalo etc. At Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu a buffalo is sacrificed at a single stroke by sword and hundreds people come to see this. 

Mother’s Day (May)
Mother's Day is honored to Mother and is celebrated in 8th May in Nepal. On this day Nepalese people give gifts to their mothers like fruits, sweets, clothes, ornaments and so on. These all things denote the affection to their mother. Mothers are made to feel very special on this day. Those who doesn't have mother and died they take bath early in the morning and pray for their souls.

Buddha Jayanti (May)
The ever benevolent Buddha was born in Nepal, and the religion is preached is the second most popular in the Kingdom. On a full moon day, the Lord's birth, enlighten, and salvation are applauded throughout the valley with celebrations. Swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupas are prepared for the oncoming festivities several days in advance. Monasteries are cleaned, statues are polished, bright prayer flags waft in the breeze, and monks prepare to dance. On the Jayanti day, people reach the stupas before down, go around them and give offering to the many Buddha images there. On the final day, in a nearby field, courtiers fire ancient muskets as a high lama shoots an arrow at a red demon effigy laid on a ragged tiger skin. He tosses five more demons into the sand to signify the exorcising of the city.

Tiji (May)
Tiji is celebrated by the Buddhist people as the popular festival of their culture and tradition. The festival 'Tiji' or 'Teechi or Teeji' is a three-day ritual festival known as "The chasing of the Demons" and it is centered on the Tiji myth. Tiji comes from the words "ten che" "tempa chirim' meaning "the hope of Buddhism prevailing in all worlds - Prayer for world peace" Tiji tells the story of a deity named  Dorje Jono (Dorje Sonnu) who must battle against his demon father 'Tam Ru a vicious creature' to save the Kingdom of Mustang from destruction. The demon father wreaks destruction on Mustang by creating a water shortage which, in this extremely arid land, is the most precious life-sustaining resource. Dorje Jono eventually defeats the demon and banishes him from the land of Mustang. Tiji is a celebration and reaffirmation of this myth. Throughout the festival the events and story of the myth are re-enacted. The festival is timed to coincide with the end of the dry season (late winter/spring) and ushers in the wetter monsoon season.

Red Machhendranath Jatra (June)
In the earliest point of time Kathmandu Valley went throughout harsh food shortage menacing the life of normal citizens. God Red Machhendranath was demanded to convey in rains. When rainfalls flow down the valley with the sanctions of the deity, the local citizens as respect to the deity started rejoicing Red Machhendranath Jatra throughout the month of June. Chariot seated with Red Machhendranath is wandered all around the valley. People come from different place to worship the deity.

Nag Panchami (August)
This festival is dedicated to the Serpents. They are worshiped and fed with milk on this day. The serpents have important role in the ancient texts of Hinduism and also they are believed to be the source of rainfall by the farmers. The Farmers worship them for timely rainfall and a good harvest.

Gaura Parba (August)
Gaura Parba is notable by far-western Nepali and is celebrated on 13th August. This day is very important for mainly the married women. On this day, women worship Shiva and Parbati for the long life, pleasure and wealth of their husbands and other members of the family. On this day women gather in the same place and exchange their pain and sufferings as well as happiness. They also sing and dance.

Janai Purnimaa and Gai Jatra (August)
A most colorful religious procession of cows and people with peculiar head dress painted as figure of cows goes round the market places. Relatives of deceased of that year send religious groups to join the precession. The ‘Gai’ or cow is holy to Hindus. She represents Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, and guides the souls of the departed to the gates of the Netherworld. But Gaijatra is not a somber occasion. Satire, jokes, fancy costumes, and colorful processions are the order of the day as people recall how an eighteen-century king rallied his people to cheer his queen upon the death of their son. Those who have experienced the death of close ones during the past year share their sorrow and take comfort in the fact that the Gai (cow) has safely transported the departed souls on their afterlife journey. Young men wearing women’s saris, children dressed up as cows, and whimsical characters of all sorts fill the streets.

Krishnastami (August)
This festival is celebrated to honor the day of birth of Lord Krishna, the 8th incarnation of lord Vishnu. Hindus observe it by remaining awake the whole night performing religious dances and singing in the praise of Lord Krishnna. The Krishna temple of Patan receives thousands of devotees on this holy occasion.

Father’s Day (September)
Father's day is also known as Gokarna aunsi and it is extraordinary day for all the Nepalese. It is celebrated on the 3rd September. Nepalese people give the sweets, fruits, clothes on this day and show their love and respect towards their father. Those people who doesn’t have father take an early bath and presents alms of rice, fruits, coins etc to the priest in the name of their father. They believed that by doing this their fathers soul will live in peace in the heaven.

Teej (September)
This is a special festival for all Hindu women’s in Nepal.  They keep fasting and worship Lord Shiva for prosperous healthy life of their husband. The unmarried girls do the same wishing for a good husband. Teej celebrations last for three pious days. Women all over the country wear colorful dress, especially red and gather together and sing and dance.

Indra Jatra (September)
This festival of the rain god starts after hoisting Lord Indra’s flag at midnight in important public places. This festival is celebrated as the thanks giving festival to lord Indra for a good rainfall that resulted in the good harvest. The main celebratration takes place around the Kathmandu Durbar square.  Besides worshiping lord Indra the dances of masked men representing Bishnu, Bhairav, and Shiva are shown to the public. Once of the major attraction of the festival is the sight of Goddess Kumari in her chariot. This is one of the few time in the year when the goddess come out of her palace premises.

Dashain (October)
Dasain is the most important and popular Hindu festival in the country. People reunite with their families and celebrate together. The children get busy with Kites and Shopping. The elderly ones are looking for animals such goat, buffalo and chicken to be sacrificed on the night of ‘Kal Ratri’ to goddess Durga to celebrate her victory over evil. On the tenth day, the younger ones receive the red mark, ‘Tika’ and blessings from the elders. The festival ends after 15 days of start on the day of full moon.

Tihar (November)
This is second biggest festival of Hindus in Nepal. It is also known as festival of lights, is a time of candlelight, tinsel decorations and festive colored sweets. On different days, there are offerings and small celebrations for crows, dogs, cows and oxen. On the night of Laxmi Puja, garlands are hung and lamps are lighted to invite Laxmi, the goddess of wealth into the home and offices. Mha Puja, the New Year’s Day according to the Nepal Era, is the day of the self, when people gives themselves blessing to remain healthy and happy for the rest of the year. Bhai Tika, the last day of Tihar, is the day when sisters make offerings to their brothers. The ritual of breaking wall nuts, putting on garlands of makhamali flowers and encircling brothers in rings of mustard oil protect them from Yama, lord of the Netherworld. The first day of the festival people worship ‘crows’ and on the second day ‘dog’ is worshipped in the morning and is given good food to eat.

Nepal Sambat (November)
Nepal sambat is New year for the Newari people in Nepal. It is celebrated on 2nd November. It always follows the Lunar calendar. Newari society celebrates this day with the good food items, best clothes, music and dance.

Chhath Parva (November)
This Vedic festival is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya, also known as Surya Shashti.  This festival is celebrated more in the southern plains of the Country. the Chath puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. The Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chath festival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.

The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering Prasad (prayer offerings) and a right to the setting and rising sun.

Mani Rimdu (November)
This is a Sherpa festival celebrated during the fall at Tengboche Monastery in the Everest region. For 5 days, Lamas and Sherpas gather for “the good of the world”. There are plays, masked dances, prayers, and feastings. Demons are quelled and the pious rewarded. The days are colorful and trips to the Everest region are very rewarding.

Bala Chaturdasi (November)
Antique story has it that normal human beings named Bala twisted captivated on a devil following him fortuitously consume burnt fleshy tissue of a dead body. Afterward citizens planed dishonesty alongside him to destroy him. After Bala’s loss, group lamented the information that they mislead him and so started to carry out Bala Chaturdasi for looking for pardon from Bala. On 30th November Nepalese subsequent to captivating rite bath at sunrise spread out small piece all approximately for structure a armistice with unhealthy spirits. A mela is prepared close to Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. This rite is ended with bluster of a horn.

Bibah Panchami (December)
All the people of the Hindu world know the story of the marriage of the hero Ram and the princes Sita, as told in the epic Ramayana. King Janak, sita’s father, proposed at a test of strength for the suitors of his daughter: to string the great bows of Lord Shiva. Warriors, Kings and chieftains came from afar, but no man could even lift the bow. Ram lifted the bow with ease and when he tried to string it, the bow shattered into pieces. Ram and Sita were married in Janakpur, now in southern Nepal, and their marriage is celebrated to this day. Each year, idols of Ram and Sita are brought out in procession and their Hindu wedding ceremony is re-enacted during a weeklong religious fair. Bibah Panchami reflects the devotion of Hindus to Ram, perhaps the most popular among the incarnations of Vishnu, and to Sita, the model of the ideal Hindu woman.

Yomari Punhi (December)
This festival was celebrated as a blessing to the deities for helping cultivators with fine crops. This festival is celebrated on 15th December. Newari society makes a food known as "Yomari" which is made up of from the flour of newly grown rice with the dissolved sugar distended inside it and then properly fastened. First of all Yomari is presented to the deities and then to the members of family as well as the relatives and neighbors.

Tamu Lhosar (December)
According to the lunar calendar Gurung, Magar, Tamang and other Himalayan societies of Nepal celebrate Tamu Lhosar as their New Year on the month of December. In this time Monasteries are decorated very beautifully with the different colors.  People take blessings from the Monks for their development, wealth and contentment. That person who celebrates this festival put the flag on the top of their houses. On this occasion a fest is arranged by inviting friends, relatives and neighbors. On this time people exchange their gifts and enjoy, sing as well as dance. 

Christmas (December)
This festival is often celebrated by the Christian people of Nepal on the 25th of December. It helps to bring the happiness and the members of the family together. On this time a Christmas tree is adorned with different colors and lights. And also the gifts are positioned secreted on that tree. Children think and suppose that Santa Claus has put their gifts secreted on the tree. After getting that gifts all the members of family as well as relatives and also the neighbor enjoy dinner with the dance. The particular menu set for this particular day is Turkey.

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