During your visit, there is a high chance of you stumbling upon a local festival in Nepal. There are several annual festivals which could be the highlight of your trip to Nepal. But one needs to be aware of the festivals in Nepal and knowing a thing or two will only make it easier for you.
Festivals in Nepal could be Hindu, Buddhist, Newari, or a hybrid of all, such as Dashain/Holi. Hindu events mostly occur in the form of huge pilgrimages and fairs (mela) or a special act of worship (puja) at temples. Parades (jatra) are common and animal sacrifices are considered a usual ritual.
Tip: Purchase an English version of the Nepalese calendar to keep or visit www.hamropatro.com to keep up with upcoming events and holidays in Nepal.
Nepali Festival Calendar
|1||Magh/Makar Sankranti||Almost always 14 January|
|2||Basanta Panchami||5 February|
|4||Holi||March 8 2023|
|5||Nawa Barsa||14 April|
|6||Buddha Jayanti||8 May|
|7||Janai Purnima||22 August|
Having a perspective of when and where festivals in Nepal occur is important for travelers. It will not only help you to align your timing but will also help you to avoid inconveniences of closed offices, hotels, and sold out transportation tickets.
Below are some of the widely celebrated festivals in Nepal, mostly annual and are sorted according to the months they fall in. In general, you will get to experience at least one festival when in Nepal.
Magh/Makar Sankranti is a rare solar event when the sun is furthest from the earth. To celebrate the Sankranti, people take bath at sacred rivers (Devghat or Sankhu) as a ritual.
Basanta Panchami is celebrated the day after the new moon by Hindus. The day is also considered as Saraswati Puja, the goddess of learning. On this auspicious day, schools undergo special worshipping rituals with decorations and food.
Shiva Raatri (Lord Shiva’s Night) is one of the biggest festivals occurring at Pashupatinath. The day is marked by bonfires and bizarre yogic demonstrations throughout the Pashupatinath temple. Tens of thousands of pilgrims fill the whole street as the traffic is blocked around the area for the day.
Holi is the Nepali version of the springtime water festival. The festival is not only famous inside the country but also common to most Asian countries to follow Hinduism. It is also known as the festival of colors and reasonably so. No one is safe from the water balloons and colored powders, not even tourists.
Nawa Barsa or New Year falls on the first day of Baisakh (April 13 or 14) in Nepal. It is quite familiar with every new year celebration throughout the world. However, Bhaktapur’s five-day celebration called Bisket or Biska is one fo the fascinating combination of religious precessions such as tug-of-war and more.
Buddha Jayanti is celebrated on the occasion of the anniversary of the Buddha’s birth. During this time Buddhist temples are decorated with thousands of lights followed by dance rituals by priests dressed as the 5 appearances of Buddhahood
Janai Purnima/ Rakhsya Bandhan occurs during July-August. The festival is dedicated to changing the sacred thread (janai) worn by Hindu men followed by a full-moon day ritual in Shaaun. The festival is equally important to siblings as men and women receive a yellow and orange “Protective Band” called Rakshya Bandhan.
Dashain (Dashera) is the greatest and longest festival that is embraced by all sorts of caste and culture in Nepal. The 15 days celebration is for families to gather and enjoy delicious cuisines. Dashain is the liveliest festival amongst all the other festivals in Nepal. Governmental and Non-governmental offices are closed during this season and expect to witness animal sacrifices left and right.
Tihar (or Diwali for India) lasts for five days and is associated with the goddess of wealth good fortune, Lakshmi, and the god of death, Yamraj. The festival is also popular as the festival of lights. Almost every settlement in Nepal is lit up with twinkling lights and candles creating a surreal and joyful environment.
To sum it all up, there are hundreds of festivals in Nepal. However, those mentioned above are some of the major ones significant to certain ethnic groups and tribes. For further inquiries regarding the festive season in Nepal and their effect on traveling, please reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Traveling!