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Festivals in Nepal

January-February

Losar: The New Year for the Tibetan people commences with the new moon in February and is welcomed with particular fervor at the great stupa of Bouddhanath. Ceremonies are also performed at Swayambhunath and in the Tibetan community at Jawlakhel near Patan. The Sherpa people of SoluKhumbu also celebrate at this time.

February-March

Maha Shivaratri: Lord Shiva’s birthday falls on the new moon day of the month of Falgun. Festivities take place at all shiva temples but most particularly at the great Pashupatinath temple and devotees flock there from all over Nepal and India.

Holi: This exciting festival ( also known as fagu) is closely related to the water festival of Thailand and Manmar and take place on the full moon day in the month of Falgun. Holi also known as the festival of colours as well as spraying water on everything and everybody, Colored powder and water also dispensed.

March-April

Seto (White) Machhendranath:This festival starts a month prior to the Rato ( Red) Machhendranath festival in Patan. The festival starts with removing the image of seto machhendranath from the temple of Kel tole and placing it on a rath or towering and creaky wooden temple chariot. For the next four evenings, the chariot proceeds from one historical location to another eventually arriving al lagankhel in the south of Kathmandu, old town. There the image taken out from the chariot and carried back to its starting point in a palanquin while the chariot is disassembled and put away until next year.

Bisket Jatra: Nepali new year starts in mid April, at the beginning of the months of Baisakh; the Bisket festival in Bhaktapur is the most spectacular welcome for the new year and one of the most exciting annual events in the valley

Balkumari Jatra Thimi: The small town of Thimi also welcomes the New Year with an exciting festival instituted by king Jagat jyoti malla in the early 1600s in which Balkumari, one of the Bhairabs consorts is honored. All through the first day of the New Year devotees crowed around the Balkumari Temple in Thimi and as dusk fall hundreds of chirags (ceremonial oil lamps) are lit. Some devotees lie motionless around the temple all night with burning oil lamps balanced on their legs, arms, chests and foreheads.

The next morning men come from the various toles or quarters of thimi and from surrounding villages, each team carrying a khat (Palanquin) with image of different gods. As the 32 Khats whirl around the temple, red powder is hurled at them and the ceremony reaches fever pitch as the khats bearing, Ganesh arrives from the village of Nagadesh. The crowed parade up and down the main street until late in the morning when Ganesh, borne by hundreds of men, make a break for home, pursued by the other khats. Sacrifies are then made for Balkumari.

April-May

Rato Machhendranath: Although SETO and RATO Machhendranath may be the same deity, the RATO Machhendranath festival of Patan is a much more important occasion then the Kathmandu event. Machhendranath is considered to have the great powers over rain and since the monsoon is approaching at this time, this festival is a plea for good rain. The highlight of the festival is Bhoto Jatra, or showing of the sacred vest. Machhendranath was entrusted with the jeweled vest aftere there was a dispute over its ownership., The vest is displayed three times in order to give the owner the chance to claim it- although this does not actually happen.

May-June

Buddha Jayanti (The Buddha,s Birthday): Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) was born at Lumbini, Nepal and a great fair is held here on his birthday. Swayambhunath is the centre for the celebrations around Kathmandu, although events also take place in Boudhanatha and in Patan.

July-August

Nag Panchami, Janai purnima and Ghanta Karna

August-September

Gai Jatra: The Cow Festival take place immediately after janai purnima on the day after saaun full moon, and is dedicated to those who died during the preceding year. Newar believe that after death, cows will guide them to Yama, the god of the underworld, ad finding your way on this important journey will be easier if by chance you should be holding onto a cows tail at the moment of death. On this day cows are led through the streets of the valley’s towns or if a cow is not available, small boy dressed up as a cow. The festival is celebrated with maximum energy on Bhaktapur streets.

TEEJ: The festival of women lasts three days, from the second to the fifth day after the Bhadra new moon, and is based in Pashupatinath. Women celebrate Teej in honor of their husbands and in the hope of a long and happy married life.

Indra Jatra: This important festival runs from the end of the month Bhadra into the beginning of Ashwin. Indra Jatra is a colorful and exciting festival, which manages to combine homage to indra with an important annual appearance by kumara (The living goddesses), respects to Bhairab and commemoration of the conquest of the valley by Prithivi Narayan Shah. The festival also marks the end of the monsoon.

September-October

Pachali Bhairab Jatra

Dashain: The Pleasant post monsoon period when the sky is clearest, the air is cleanest and the rice is ready for harvesting is also the time for Nepal’s biggest annual festival. Dashain lasts for 15 days (although mid-four days called Fulpati, Maha Astami, Nawami and Dashami are more important), finishing on the full-moon day of the late September or early October. Although much of the Dashain is a quiet family affair, there are colorful events for the visitors to see both in Kathmandu and in the country. Dashain is also known as Durga Puja, as the festival celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga over the force of evils personified by the buffalo demon Mahisasur. Since Durga is a bloodthirsty Goddess, the festival is marked by wholesale bloodletting and featured the biggest animal scarifies of the year.

October-November

Tihar:  With its colorful festival of lights Tihar ( also called Diwali or Deepawali) after third day od celebration is the most important Hindu festival in Indian and in Nepal. It ranks second only after Dashain. The five days of Festival activities take place in late October or early November.

The Third Day Deepawali is the most important day of the festival with Laxmi (Bishnu’s Consort and the Goddess of the Wealth) come to visit every home that has been suitable lit for the presence. No one like to turn down a visit from the Goddess of Wealth and so homes throught out the country are brightly lit with candle and lamps. The effect highlighted because Depawali falls on the new moon day.

Novebmer-December

Mani Rimdu, Bala Chaturdashi and Sita Bibaha Panchami.

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