There are different groups of peoples celebrating different festivals in Nepal. Nepal is a multicultural, multilinguistic and multiethnic country with people of different religious tolerance. Majority of people in Nepal are Hindus. After Hinduism, the next popular religion in Nepal is Buddhism. Besides this, there are many followers of Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Kirat religion. Every religion has its own values and norms. People of every religion can celebrate their festivals according to their culture and traditions. Some festival which is celebrated by different religious communities of Nepal are:
Dashain is a great festival of Hindus. It is our national festival and is familiar us. Dashain mainly falls in the month of October. The goddess Durga is worshipped in this festival.
There is a belief that the world was once ruled by an evil demon call Mahisasur. He filled the whole world with sorrow and misery. When the evil deeds of Mahisasur crossed the boundary Goddess Durga killed him and ended all the evil powers from the world.
Durga is worshipped for nine days. Many goats, chickens etc. are sacrificed to goddess. We can also say that, it is a worship of Shakti, the goddess of power. The first day of the Dashain starts from “Ghatasthapana”. The seventh day is known as Phulpati and the tenth day is called “Bijaya Dashami”. We put tika, Jamara and get blessing from our elders. On this day, we visit our relatives to receive tika and blessings from our relatives.
On this occasion schools and colleges are closed. We exchange greetings and enjoy playing cards, ans also through letters and orally. Children are happier getting new clothes, footwears, toys and other gifts from the enders as well as they can play swings and fly kites with their friends during the holidays. Those who are far from the home they come back home and most of the family are gathered in the eldest member’s house.
Therefore, Dashain is the happiest festival. Once we tell good bye to one Dashain, we wait eagerly to welcome another Dashain the next year.
2. Tihar (The Deepawali):
We all know that Nepal is rich in culture and festivals. Many Nepali as well as tourists celebrates our festival. Likewise, our second biggest festival after Dashain is Tihar. It is also known as festival of Deepawali. We celebrate this festival for five days. It is celebrated out the world by Hindus in Kartik.
We all Nepali are happy to celebrate this festival. The people who are out of country also celebrate this festival. We celebrate this festival for five days. The first day of Tihar is called Kag tihar in this day we worship crow all around the country as messenger of Yamaraj. The second day is known as the day of Dog and we worship Dog also because they guide our home. And the third day we will worship Laxmi who is wealthy in wealth, so that Laxmi will enter our house and makes us prosperous. Children form groups and go house to house for singing, dancing etc. This is a carol song. We call this in Nepali “Deusi”. For this not only small child even the big male and female go for carol singing. And that house people welcomed and give food and money. In this day, every people burn candles and diya in their house to make their home bright. It is said that goddess Laxmi will enter in that house which is so bright and full of candles. And at fourth day we worship ox as Gobhardhan puja. And the last day or fifth day is Bhai tika. It is the important day in this day every sister put tika to their brothers. On this day, brothers are worshipped and prayed for their long life. They are fed delicious dishes after putting them tika and on other hand; brothers give sisters gifts and money.
In this way we celebrate the light of festival, which is known as Tihar.
3. Buddha Jayanti:
Buddha jayanti festival is the most sacred day in Buddhist calendar. It is the most important festival of Buddhists and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Buddha jayanti falls in a full moon day dedicated to Lord Buddha to mark his triple anniversary- Birthday, enlightenment and death. Buddhist devotees visit various stupas and chaityas especially at Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and Lumbini. A Grand National festival is organized at Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, where many Nepalese and foreigners pay homage.
Gaijatra is related with cow. Gai means cow and Jatra means festival. This festival is basically celebrated in Kathmandu by the Newari community. We celebrate this festival in the memory of death people of Newar family during the year. This festival falls in the month of Bhadra Nepali month and August – September in English month. This festival is very famous festival in Nepal. This festival has its own indicates, in ancient period of time people anxiety and worship Yamraj is the god of death.
According to ancient age since time by memory, every family who had lost one relative during the past year must take participate in a procession through the streets of Kathmandu leading a cow. If a cow is not available a young boy dressed as a cow is considered as a fair substitute. The most interesting of the celebrations among the three cities takes place Bhaktapur. Hundreds of drummers take to the streets playing traditional drums.
According to Malla period king Pratap Malla lost his son, the queen remained quite disturbed. The king was very sad to see the condition of his adorable queen. So, king announced that everyone who made the queen laugh would be rewarded. During this festival Gaijatra, the cow procession was brought before the grief-stricken queen then the participants began ridiculing and are fooling the essential people of the society. When queen saw all the ridiculous activities the queen couldn’t stop smiling. So, King Pratap Malla instituted a tradition of including Jokes, mockery and lampoon in Gai jatra’s day. This festival is good festival which enables the people to accept the reality of death one to prepare themselves for the life after death.
Krishnaastami is the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday. He is one of the tenth incarnations of Lord Vishnu and the festival is celebrated countrywide by all Hindus.
In this day the devotees take fast and worship Lord Krishna by offering the milk like curd, makhan which are favored of the Krishna. The devotees gather together and celebrated the festival by singing and dancing on the Bhajan of Krishna as well as the people performs the state performance of the life cycle of Krishna. The people decorated the temples of Krishna in Patan, Krishna temple of Narayanhiti and another Krishna temple of Kathmandu valley. The devotees sing and dance and mainly at the midnight when Krishna was born the devotees start doing Aarati and sing the song.
The devotees gather in the temple and offers flowers, foods and sweets to the Krishna idol. If it is not possible to go temple of Krishna then the women celebrate this festival in their house. This Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated with great pleasure all over the world by the Hindu religious.
Chhath is also one of the major festivals in Nepal. Especially it is celebrated by people of Terai. This Chhath parva is dedicated to the sun god and observed on the fourth day of the lunar calendar during the month of Kartik.
The rising and the setting sun is worshiped during the festival. This festival is celebrated lasts for four days.
First day is known as Arba or Nahan Khan, the devotees keep fast by discarding meat, garlic and onion they only eat clean and pure food.
The second day is Kharna, which is observed to reduce the sin committed by the devotees and the third and major celebration is known as Chhath when the puja is conducted. The devotees go to the pre- decorated rivers and ponds singing folk and devotional songs. There are tents like structures made around the pond or on the river bank on which the devotees keep their holy offering and also stay the night, without sleeping.
The fourth day is known as parwana that signifies the end of the puja after making offering and worshiping the rising sun. We celebrated this festival after Tihar and especially for the married women who observe two days fast and offer prayers while keeping almost three quarters of their body immersed in water for two hours.
On this day, the lakes, pond and rivers are beautifully decorated for the celebration, with lights, tents and flowers. All the things which are needed for worship are kept inside these tents like structures and the devotees spend the night without sleeping. Devotional songs are played on the loudspeakers that are kept in most of the tents by the devotees.
It is said that the god fulfills wishes of the devotees, especially the ones who are keeping fast. And it also said that most of the devotees have had their wishes fulfilled after taking the fast, however, the fast of Chhath Puja is one of the most difficult fasts in the Hindu religions.
Teej is also major festival that is celebrated in our country. Teej is special celebrated by Hindu women for marital bliss and for the long life of their husbands. Teej is the fasting of women in Nepal and it falls in the month of August or early September. In this day, unmarried girls also observe fast for their good husband.
In this day women wear red sari and sing traditional songs and dances form an important feature of Teej celebrations. Red color is considered auspicious for women. “Teej” is a small red insect that comes out from the soil during rainy season. So, it is said that it’s got name from the same red insect. That’s why we celebrated Teej in red.
We celebrate Teej for three days; each day has its own significance first day is called “Dar khane Din” the day to make merry. Second day is a fasting day. And the last day is called “Rishi Panchami”.
Dar khane din:
The first day of Teej in Nepal is called the “dar khane din”. On this day, the women dressed in the finest clothed gather at one place and perform traditional dance and sing devotional songs. And they eat food called “Dar”. Celebrations continue till midnight after which the 24 hours long fast begins.
The second or the fasting day of the teej festival is dedicated to pujas and prayer. All women and girls go to the pashupatinath temple in red sarees to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. Women gather in the temple and circumambulate the Lingam (phallic symbol of the Lord) adorned with flowers, sweets and coins. The beautiful decorated idols of shiva and Parvati are offered fruits and flowers. Lighting of an oil lamp (diyo) is very important part of the Puja ceremony.
The third day of the Teej festival is called Rishi Panchami. On this day, the seven sages of the Hindu pantheon are worshipped by women in a belief that it will cleanse all sins of the previous year. Womenfolk take a holy bath with red mud found on the roots of the sacred Datiwan bush along with its leaves. After cleansing they come out purified and absolved from all sins. After this they sit in a semicircle white a priest sitting in the middle chants devotional prayers.
Lhosar is an important Buddhist festival, the Tibetan New Year. It usually falls around February and is celebrated by Tibetans, Sherpas, Gurungs and some of the Tamang who live in the high altitudes.
This festival begins with the thorough cleaning of the house and everything in it.
Each day is marked by a ritual like the throwing away the first day. They will sing and dance there is even an opera like performance at Boudhanath. The people perform their traditional dances and welcome their new year with feasts and family gathering wearing all the new clothes. The monks in the monasteries perform rituals for the good of all mankind and hold ceremonies to rid the earth of evil spirits.
Holi is the one of the national festivals of the Nepalese. This festival is a great festival of the Hindus. Generally, this festival falls in the month of Falgun. Holi provides great fun and joy. This festival can be said as the festivals of colors. We play with the colors. As we know the name of the festival is related with a girl called Holika who sat in the fire with great devotee Prahalad, the son of Hiranyakashyapu to kill Prahalad. But they become unsuccessful to kill him. We celebrate in the memory of that event. People enjoy in this festival by sprinkling color water on one another. They sing and dance in this festival.
It makes us forget our anxieties. All people share joy and happiness. Even we share time of enjoyment with our relatives and friends. We forget all past events and become one in this festival so it is very interesting for Hindus. The Holi celebrations begin on the last day of Phalgun. The main celebration follows the next day. People are in an enjoyment mood. They sprinkle colored water on another. They smear their faces with colored water on the passes by. All people are in a jolly mood enjoying with colors and water. Just putting colors each another and wishing them happy Holi. Especially teenager boys and girls enjoy the day just they make group and take colors and roaming around the city and putting color to the people. During that day people used Pichkari and throw colored water on each other. Nowadays balloons and plastic water guns and packet are used. The balloon filled with water is called Lola in Nepali. Children start throwing Lolas on each other from week ahead of main Holi day.
At evening, after playing Holi people get together and celebrate the occasion with delicious food and desserts. We should celebrate Holi in a decent way. We must realize that it is a festival of happy and enjoyment. We should share our joy with others.
Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in the name of the God Shiva. Mahashivaratri festival or the night of Shiva is celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of Hindu Trinity. Shivarati falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Falgun. Shivaratri is especially celebrated by Hindus.
In this day people worship God by staying fasting. Some people may take water and fruits. Temples dedicated to Shiva and filled with devotees offering prayers. The shiva linga at the temple is bathed with milk and water. In this day, all devotees were gathered at Pashupatinath to worship Lord Shiva. Pashupatinath temple is sacred temple for Hindus and this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Devotees sing hymns and chant mantras, especially “om namah shivaya”. Whole day they stay fasting and worship to God Shiva and at night some sit around a sacred fire and toss offerings of grain into the flames while chanting to Shiva. Worship to God After fasting and meditating throughout the day a vigil is held all night with continued prayers and meditation. After worshiping fire, they break their fasting and they will eat pure vegetable and rice or they will eat only fruit and milk.
It is believed that the people who fast on this night and offer prayers to Lord Shiva bring good luck into their life. It is said that especially married women stay fasting for their husband’s long live and unmarried girl stay fasting to get nice and honest husband.