Festivals of Nepal
If you walk in the street,you see different people with different faces.You see different people speaking different language.It is because,Nepal is multicultural nation,more than 60 ethnic groups and almost entire indigenous communities have their own language,culture and festivals.Interim constitution 2063 has declared, Nepalas secular nation, sothese days people celebrating festivals and Jatras with full of joy and fun.Most of the festivals are observed according to lunar calendar in Nepal.therefore,the festivals do not have the specific matching day as English calendar’s date.
Dashain is also referred as BadaDashain,Dashera,Vijayadashami by different communities in Nepal.Mostly it is Dashain for all.It is considered to be the most valuable festival of Nepal. It is the longest and the most auspicious festival according to calendar, almost all Nepalese celebrate Dashain as major festival here,it is believed that Dashain brings happiness to every citizen’s home.Generally,it falls around in October,starting from the bright lunar fortnight and ending on the day of full moon.
Basically,people worship goddess Durga during festival.On the initial first day is Ghatasthapana,people sow barley at their home and put water on daily basis to keep it grow so that by the tenth day,the seed will have grown to 6 or 7 inches yellow grass,that sacred grass is called ‘Jamara’.On the tenth day, they pull Jamaraup and make it bunch to tie it up on relatives head. Similarly,Dashain is also known for celebration of Tika and family gatherings.people who are working aside get time to return home to celebrate Dashain.Many Nepalese has been migrated to Kathmandu valley for employment but during Dashain,they return home,they bought new clothes and sweets for their family members. Therefore,Dashain is a part of happiness for Nepalese.
Fulpati is another major part of Dashain,which comes on the seventh day .In Nepal.Royal family brought Jamara from Gorkha as their ancestral home.Dashain marks as victories of the goddess over the cruel demons.It are also victory of good over evil. According to cultural expert,The first nine days symbolizes the battle took between goddess Durga and demon Mahisasur,But finally on the tenth day, goddess Durga defeated mahisasur.so goddess Durga is worshipped as divine mother for Nepalese.
Another major attraction of Dashainis bamboo swings. These bamboo swings are called ‘Ping’ in countryside.Pings are constructed by local people using rope,wood and bamboo sticks.Heights of these swings exceed twenty feet and people can swing very high.Especially children and young people enjoy swing.
Animal sacrifice is very much practicing tradition of Dashain.More than million animals such as goats,buffaloes,ducks,hens are slaughtered in goddess temple.it is said that goddess are appeased by such sacrifices. Especially all temple of goddess Durga,kali,Bhagwati has been offered by such animal sacrifices.On the eight day Mahaastami and Nineth day Nawami reach the peak of sacrifices.people often slaughter for worship goddess,feast as well.They prepare different dishes for celebration.’Pakku’ is special meat item for feast so demand of meat goes up high during Dashain.However,people are lessen offering animal these days,they rather offering pumpkin and coconut for goddess.
Celebration of Tika is major attraction of Dashain,which occurs on the tenth day of Dashain.people prepare Tika on this day,a mixture of rice,yoghurt and vermilion powder is known as Tika.Elders put Tika and Jamara on the forhead of younger relatives to bless them.Tika tradition ties the elation between family to extended family.Elders give a small amount of money as’Dakshina’to younger relatives with the blessings.Tika festival continuous following five days till ‘Purnima’full moon day.Which is also known as Kojagratpurnima,literally it is the last day of festival and people enjoy with family members celebrating Dashain.Thats why Dashain is the major festival for every Nepalese every year. It deepens relation among people and keep harmony from people to people.
Tihar is festival of lights,colours and flowers.It is five days festival, mostly occurs in late autumn.followed by Dashainfestival, inTihar all the houses are lighted during Tihar to appease goddess Laxmi,goddess of wealth.Not only goddess Laxmi is worshipped. Dogs,crows and cows are especially worshipped.people offer sweet and rice and worship them in Tihar.The third day of Tihar is ‘GaiTihar’, worship of cow,cow is sign of prosperity.Still cow’s dung and urine has been using for different purposes of purification.Thus,people worship cow showing their gratefulness by placing garland on their neck and feeding them grass.Similarly houses are cleaned and doorways,windows are decorated with garlands made of marygolds.But in the evening,the goddess Laxmi is worshipped.People light candle on doorways and windows t welcome goddess Laxmi and to thank goddess for the benefits that were bestowed on the families.At night girls play ‘Bhailo’visiting all the houses of their communities with dancing and singing .House owner serves sweets,Selroti as well as money.Girls offer blessing to house owner.Following day boys also play’Deusi’.Both deusi and bhailo played by young teenagers to collect money respectively.Final celebration is ‘bhaipuja’ on Dashain,which occurs in fifth day of Tihar,men visit their sister’s house to put seven colourful vermilion powder on their forehead by sisters.It is believed that,these seven colourful vermilion powders extend the lifeline of brothers.Where every sisters prepare garland of ‘Makhamali’ marron coloured flower to put it them on their brothers neck.Sisters offer different colourful sweets and prepare ‘Selroti’,aNepalese sweet made of rice flour by their own hand.Similarly brothers brings gifts and money as per their economic status.
MahaShivarati is referred as no moon light at nightand dedicated to lord Shiva. Shivaratrifestival is especially celebrated by Hindus in the name of great lord Shiva.It is taken as birthday of lord Shiva.Most of the devotees worship lord Shiva during Shivaratri and most of the spectaculars events happens at the Pashupatinath temple nearby Gausala in Kathmandu.People smear their bodies in ashes and tribute the lord Shiva.Every year more than thousands yogis comes from neighbour country India to celebrate Shivaratri in Nepal.Especially young people enjoy Marijuana during Shivaratri. Please visit following link to know more how young generation is celebrating Shiva ratri now a day.http://www.eyesonnepal.com/nepal4-angies-eyes-on-nepal-smoking-marijuana-is-legal-today/
Chhathparwa is celebrating by the ancient capital of the Mithila region people.It is observed from fourth day of lunar calendar.Chhath is celebrated to worship Sun.It is festival of thanks giving to lord sun for giving life on earth.In Hindu mythology,Sun is considered to be source of power,the god of energy as well as life force.Especially Maithali Brahmans and almost all madhesi communities celebrate Chhath for well progress, prosperity and human kind.Because Hindu people has great faith on sun to cure illness and diseases. The existence of sun is considered as source of healing power too.People worship sun for longevity of family members.
ChhathParwa is celebrated for 4 days from KartikShuklachaturthi to kartikshuklasaptami.According to English calendar;festival falls around in October or November. The ritual of Chhath is mainly to take holy bath in ponds and local religious river side.Fasting even without water for 36 hours continuously is another spectrum of chhat.People worship sun to extend life of relatives,family members as well as loved one.That’s why they offer sweets,fruits,flowers during rising and setting of sun.Only sunrise and sunset are taken appropriate time for worshiping sun.Bathing in river is taken as holy step of Chhath.Human body can obtain solar energy while facing sun.Thus,chhath as festival is popularly known to obtain energy from god sun.
The devotees stand up and pray sun for long time.Praying and worshiping both are major attraction of Chhath festival.Mostly women prepare an edible food prasad in home.In the evening,people gather together and perform cultural dance and folk songs.It represents art and culture of Mithilaregion.
Baisakh full moon day is a very sacred day for all Buddhist.On this day Buddhist everywhere commemorate the BuddhaJayanti in the name of Buddha who is the great son of Nepal .In many parts of the world baisakh full moon day is celebrated as Buddha day.BuddhaJayanti reminds us noble truth of suffering that every birth ends in death.Another lesson reminds about life is short and fragile,therefore we human being should realize that we have to obtain noble wisdom within that short period.Andthe inspiration of attaining enlightenment, which leads to ultimate peace.BuddhaJayanti is to contemplate the virtues of the Buddha.To purify one’s mind by contemplating his teachings.
We Nepalese celebrate BuddhaJayantias national festival.As the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and final decease all happened in full moon day of Baisakh.It is celebrated as victory day because Buddha attained wisdom on that day.
Apart from Nepal,many asian countries commemorate BuddhaJayanti with great devotion.In Nepal,many devotees celebrates by worshiping Buddhist stupa’s.Some of them visit Monasteries,Swayumnunath,Anandakuti,Boudhaand other Buddhist shrines and Vihars.Lumbini is one of the best places to visit during BudhhaJayanti.It is like living museum of Buddhist culture,art and religion.Celebration is held in every Buddhist stupas,where Buddhist devotees recite sacred songs and worship lord Budhha.
Indra is the god of rain according to Hindu mythology.IndraJatra use to celebrate by people from Kathmandu to remember lord Indra. Yandya as IndraJatra is called in Newarilanguage, Mostly local Newari communities celebrate it.The festival was started by Lichhaviking Gunkamdev.IndraJatra begins every year from the day of the fortnight dwadasibhadra month to Aswin Krishna chaturdasi.it is eight days long festival.On the first day of IndraJatra a carnival like polewith a flag on the top erected at Hanuman Dhoka durbar square area. Approximately thirty six feet long wooden pole is chosen with great care from the Nala forest in Kavre district of Nepal.According to myth,Indra had received this flag from Lord Vishnu for protection.
It is traditionally believed that Indra’s mother needed Parijat,a religious flower.So Indra disguised as a human being came to the earth to fetch them from farmer’s garden.As he was about to steal from the garden,farmer caught him and tied him with the ropes the statue of which is still worshipped in maru tole in Kathmandu nearby Basantapur.When Indra’s mother found that her son did not show up with the flower he was supposed to bring.She herself comes down to earth in the search of her son Indra.She is called DakineDevi.She goes around the town in search of her son and finds her son caught in the Tantric web.She had tough negotiations with the Tantrik and ultimately succeeded to free Indra from the control.On this occasion,family members of deceased people in a year follow her footprints in the hope of going heaven and finding the souls of their deceased loved ones.All of them reach Indradaha,a holy pond, where they take a holy dip in preparation for their journey to heaven while Dakine Devi manages to leave the followers behind.
People of a special caste group in the Newar community carry a Baumata to light the way for Dakine Devi and followers on their way to heaven.Baumata is made of a long bamboo fixed with a series of clay dishes with wick lamps on them and carried by two men.
IndraJatra is a very fascinating festival because for the entire week people enjoy various traditional dances and witness the chariot of Goddess kumara, Lord Ganesh and Lord Bhairav being pulled through the older parts of the Kathmandu city.A day has been added to the traditional seven days of celebration.Chariots are pulled through Naradevi,Nhyokha,Ason,Indrachwok and Hanumandhoka.It is said that chariot pulling culture was introduced by Malla king Jaya PrakashMalla during Malla rule in Nepal.
In Indrachwok,the famous AkashBhairava bust is displayed with decorated by flowers and garlands.AkashBhairava’s head is related to the Mahabharata story, a religious book of Hindu.However some people said it to be the head of the first Kirat King Yalambar.In Indrachwok,every night during festival, people gather together and recitebhajans and hymns folk songs.
Similarly,there are a variety of traditional dances are performed.Lakhes,a demon in folklore with ferocious face,Lakhe dances among gods relentlessly and carelessly.All the dances take place around monumental area of Hanuman Dhoka area.The Dasavatar,the ten incarnation of lord Vishnu is also performed at every night.
The first day of the festival is also observed by the local Newars as a day to remember the family members who passed away during the past year by offering small oil lamps along a traditional route covering all the parts of the city.
The carnival like pole, the Linga is pulled down signalling the end of the IndraJatra festival.It is taken to the confluence of Bagmati and Bishnumati in Teku to be put to rest.
Janaipurnima or Rakshyabandhan
The Hindu festival Janaipurnima also known as Rakshyabandhan festival of sacred thread is being celebrated across the country.Mostly,it falls around on the full moon day in the month of Shrawan,according to lunar calendar.Almost entire communities mark this festival, whereas both Buddhist and Hindus celebrate it,following on the basis of their own ritual.According to Hindu culture,Tagadhari includes Chhetri andBrahamans are considered to be highest castes of Nepal, wears of holy thread Janai, visit the temple where Brahmans,holy priests tie a thread on their wrists for wellbeing. They even change their holy thread janai.It is believed that Janai and Thread will prevent them from severe illness.It is believed that this thread should only be removed after Laxmi Puja,which falls three months later and tied to the tail of cow that them cross a river called Baitarni in the journey of the soul after life.
Various religious fairs and events are organized at different temples,rivers and ponds on this particular day.Devotees throng Kumbheshwor in Lalitpur and Gosaikunda,holy place in Rasuwa to mark the festival.On the other side,Janaipurnima also publicly marked as Rakshyabandhan,whereRakshya means protection and bandhan means bond.Sisters offer ‘Rakhi’ and tie it on their brother’s wrist to celebrate their relationship,rakhi is a bracelet made of colourful thread with decoration. This tradition not only strengthens the bonds between brothers and sisters but also transcends the confines of families.The celebration of Rakhsyabandhan is marked by happiness and excitement especially in young girls and woman while brother accepts her offerings and vows to take care of her and be by her side in the time of need.
Holi is one of the oldest festival among others in Nepal.Holi is celebrated in the full moon day of falgun,thats why it is called fagupurnima(full moon day of falgun month).It is also known as festival of colour,friendship and love.We play holi with colours,because colours are joyous wonderful part of life.People dressed in white, gather together and put colour on each other as a token of love.People visit houses of relatives and friends in group.Put colours to each other move whole day playing with colours.People dance with music.People of tarai region celebrate holi the next day .Generally,people make Pichkari,water guns out of bamboo and mixed colours on water to sprinkle others through Pichkari.But these days,plastic balloons and water guns are used to play holi.These plastic balloons are filled with water is called Lola in Nepalese.Especially children’s and young people throwlola to others,actually kids start throwing lola from a week ahead of Holi.Similarly,people collects wood burn fires and play music and performs dances.Burn fires are important part of holi celebration in Nepal because burning of the wood signals the myth of HolikaDahan,the end of Holika.Some people drink bhang and go crazy and make jokes with friends.
We all celebrate Holi but hardly anyone knows the reason behind its celebration and origin.Holi is a spring festival.It celebrates good harvests and fertility of the land.Thereare many myths regarding holifestival. But most popular among these is the one about the story of prahlad,the son of the evil king Hiranyakaspu and the devotee of lord Vishnu.Hiranyakaspu tried to kill his own son Prahald but every time lord Vishnu saved him, because Prahlad was great devotee of lord Vishnu.one of the sisters of the Hiranakaspu named Holika had a boon to remain unscathed by fire.so she followed her brother’s wishes.However,with this sinful act against Lord Vishnu’s devotee,Holika’s boon ended and she was burnt to ashes, while Prahald came out safe from burn fire.From that day onwards Holi is celebrated as the festival of the victory of good over evil. Even today,burn fires are lit on the night before Holi in memory of the event and burning of the evil holika.It symbolizes the victory of good over evil.Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge burn fires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation. Please visit following link to get more information about how people celebrate holy in Nepal. http://www.eyesonnepal.com/holi-festival-nepal-2014-2/