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Introduction

Nepal, the lovely nation where we reside, is a world in itself. With its varying geographical aspect it’s been a
laboratory for naturalists. The world knows it as ‘Naturally Nepal’, ‘land of Mt. Everest’, ‘land of Lord Buddha’ and
many other adjectives. But with the diverse culture, religion and ethnicity, our country Nepal is superlative at
celebration of festivals too. A visitor to Nepal long ago has called it a home of Gods and land of festivals. The
aptnesses of the remark are to be judged from the scores of idols of various gods and goddesses to be found in this
land. There are more that 50 festivals celebrated in Nepal every year. While the national festivals have fixed dates,
religious festivals are set by astrologers following the lunar calendar. The best part about the festivals in Nepal is
that all the events are celebrated with the same enthusiasm and galore the way it used to be hundreds of years
ago when people had no other means of entertainment.

Of the many festivals that annually take place in Nepal; those performed in the Kathmandu valley are the most rich
and spectacular. Some of the festivals listed here are widely observed throughout the sub-continent, others are of
national or valley-wide importance and many are celebrated only within one village or two. Because of the great
number of festivals and their celebration only the main ones are enumerated here.

New Year

The first of the month of Baisakh (mid-April) is the Nepalese New Year Day following the reckoning of the calendar
in the Vikarm era which is adopted by Nepal. The Nepalese exchange greetings wishing each other a 'happy new
year’. This day is an official holiday for NEPAL.

Buddha jayanti

Buddha’s birth anniversary is celebrated every year during May in Nepal. On this day people swarm in
Swayambhunath and Boudhanath to pay homage to Lord Buddha and also visit Buddha’s birth place in Lumbini
and chant prayers and burn butter lamps. Lord Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautam but he abandoned
his luxurious life when he realized the misery of mankind and went in search of enlightenment.
Bakr eid

Bakr Eid, which is also called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic, is celebrated by going on Hajj and by offering sacrifice to god.
It is called Bakr Eid in South Asia because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat or 'bakr' in Urdu. The word 'Eid'
derived from the Arabic 'iwd' means 'festival' and zuha comes from 'uzhaiyya' which translates to 'sacrifice'. On
this day Muslims sacrifice a goat to commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim, who willingly agreed to kill his
son at the behest of God. This festival coincides with the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

Distributing meat amongst the people and Id prayers are essential parts of the festival. The meat from the
sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to
relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy.

Teej

This is a Hindu married woman’s day for her man. This festival is celebrated in August/September. Women clad in
beautiful red saris with shining potes (glass beads), singing and dancing is the sight almost everywhere in Nepal
during the festival of Teej. On this day women observe a fast and pray Lord Shiva for the long, healthy and
prosperous life of their husbands and their families. The unmarried women also observe this festival with
unabated zeal with the hope that they will get to marry good husbands. From early dawn, women queue up in the
multiple lines in Pashupatinath to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.

Dashain (Bijaya Dashami)

During the month of Kartik (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival
of the year, Dashain. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar,
celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. It is truly the national festival of Nepal.
Every Nepali is stirred by the prospects of the joy that this festival is supposed to bring with it. The change of mood
is also induced psychologically by the turn of autumn season after a long spell of monsoon, introducing clear and
brilliant days, and azure blue sky and a green carpet of fields. The climate is also just ideal at this time, it neither
being too cold nor too warm. The Nepalese cherish their Dasain as a time for eating well and dressing well. The
whole festival lasts a total of ten days. The first nine days are devoted to worship the goddess Durga Bhavani and
her diverse manifestations. Each house also sets up a shrine to worship the goddess at this time. Berley seeds are
planted on the first day in every household and nurtured for nine days.

During the nine days goddess Durga Bhavani is worshipped and offered a lot of blood sacrifice. Buffaloes, goats
and chickens are killed in thousands at the temples, at military posts and in every household. One of the main
centres that witnesses the animal sacrifice in a large scale at this time is the Hanuman Dhoka Palace on the night of
the eight day and the morning of the ninth. On the concluding day of the festival called the tika, the elders of the
family give tika to their junior members and to other relatives who may also come to seek their blessing. The fresh
shoots of the barely known as 'jamara' are also given to wear. Family feasting and feting of guests is a common
practice at this time.

tihar

This festival of lights that falls between October/November is the second biggest festival after Dashain. This
festival lasts for five days and people worship Laxmi – the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and
decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest and people lit candles, oil
lamps and other lights and the whole place looks illuminating. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are
worshipped and honored with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of
humans. Crows are regarded as the messenger that brought news even during the times when there were no
postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most obedient animals and they guard our house as true guardians.
Cow is also a symbol of wealth in Hinduism and she is also the national animal of Nepal. During Tihar, the Newari
community in Nepal also observes Mha puja – a ritual of worshipping one’s own body and life. On this very day,
the Newari New Year which is also known as Nepal Sambat begins. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day
when his sisters worship him for his long and healthy life to safeguard the lives of his sisters. This is also a gambling
time in Nepal as gambling is not illegal during this festival.

Chat

The chhat pooja, dedicated to Chhatti Mai (Goddess of Power) is a festival held in high esteem, particularly, by the
people of Nepal’s Eastern Terai bordering India’s eastern Bihar province.The entire process begins with a ritual
known as Kharna the first day of the two days long festival chath. On this day, women clean the kitchen or choose
a sacred place for cooking satwik bhojan (bread and milk).Women usually, after bathing in river purify themselves
and gather at a river-side place. In the evening, they eat, sing and dance. This day virtyally is a preparation day for
the brata (fasting) which shall be observed in subsequent days.

The next morning, their fast begins. Right from the morning, they get into the task of preparing food stuffs to offer
to Chatti Mai. Thakuwa (mixture of flour, sugar, and raisin) kind of cake, not baked but fried in pure ghee (refined
butter), remains the chief item of food variety offere to Chatti Mai. This apart, pieces of sugar cane, sugar cube,
dry fruits like cashew nuts, raisins, plumps, apricots, fresh fruits, bananas, apples, oranges etc. are placed in
number of baskets in preparation of pooja. The whole day is usually spent in preparation of the worshipping of
Chatti mai.
In the evening, at the dusk, the basket full of worshipping materials are rushed to the bank of Ganges or rivers,
near by.Here, the women going knee-deep in water, covering their bodies with a piece of sanctified clothe, pray to
Chatti mai setting the fading Sun. They offer argha (water and Prasad) to the Sun in a praying posture. The basket
full of pooja materials are touched in river and shown to the Sun.After the process is completed, the women is
knee-deep water take of couple of the dips in water and come out. They replace their wet clothes with the
sanctified ones. They spend the whole day fasting.

On the third day morning, again, the whole pooja stuffs are transported to the river. Here, at dawn, the women
again go knee-deep in praying to the rising sun, this time. After the process is repeated, the pooja is over. Then,
the women distribute the Prasad (the food stuffs offered to the sun) among men and women attending the
ceremony.They return home where the family members and relatives and neighbors gather and receive tika and
Prasad of Chatti Mai.Thus, after completing the whole rituals, the women break their fast.

Christmas

Christmas is celebrated more amongst the Christian communities in Nepal. Schools and colleges close for the
winter holidays. People start shopping from the beginning of December. People buy Christmas trees. On Christmas
Eve the Christian people decorate the Christmas tress with stars, bells, mistletoes in their homes. The Christmas
trees are lit up with twinkling lights. People attend services in the church during the mid night. In the morning
people visit the houses of friends and convey their best wishes. Gifts are being exchanged. In the evenings the
Christian homes host special Christmas feasts. The feast comprises roasted turkey, pumpkin pies, Christmas
pudding topped with brandy sauce.

Lhosar(Tibetan new year)


This is celebrated every year on Tibetan New Year's Day which falls on Parewa day of Falgoon (February). On this
day the Sherpas perform their monotonous but highly rhythmic folk songs and dances in groups known as Sheru
and in 2 to 4 known as Nangding Solu. On Losar festival, the whole Sherpa-land is in festive mood and the feast
continues for weeks. Durung feasts the villagers offer their famous Chhang, very tasty, fermented home-brewed
beer.
The Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu like Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are decorated with eye catching
colorful prayer flags pulling the crowd. The people perform their traditional dances and welcome their New Year
with feasts and family gatherings wearing all the new clothes and finest jewelries and exchanging gifts.

Maha Shivaratri
This is the most famous and celebrated festival of Nepal which attracts large crowds from far-flung places both in
India and Nepal. The festival as its very name suggests, is consecrated in honor of Lord Shiva. It is observed by
bathing and holding of a religious fast. All Shiva shrines become the places of visit for darshan, but the greatest
attraction of all is held by the temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu. One gets to see hundreds of thousand of
devout Hindus coming to visit the temple of Pashupati on this day. On this day religious Hindus worship Lord Shiva
by offering flowers, garlands, 'bel patra' (leaves of 'bel' fruit), fruits, coins and so on and also by chanting prayers
and hymns. Among them are a large number of Sadhus and naked ascetics. Many people like to keep awake for
the whole night keeping vigilance over an oil lamp burnt to please Siva. Children are seen keeping awake similarly
over a bonfire in many localities. In the afternoon an official function is held to celebrate this festival at Tundikhel.
The Royal Nepalese Army organizes a show in which volleys of gunfire are sounded.

holi

This festival of water and colors that falls between February/March is also known as “Phagu” in Nepal. This day is
observed to rejoice the extermination of female demon Holika who together with her King brother conspired to kill
his son Pralhad, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This day, playful people especially the young ones wander
through the streets in groups on foot or vehicles with various colors smeared all over them and the people in
houses make merry throwing colors and water balloons at each other and also to these people on the streets.

Conclusion

The festivals of Nepal are closely connected with these diverse gods and goddesses in whose honour they are
celebrated. They unfold a colourful spectacle of human verve and joy of the extremely religious-minded people of
Nepal. The attitude of the Nepalese people at large displays a unique spirit of mutual tolerance towards different
religious. The long interaction between the hindus and the Buddhists of this remote Himalayan Kingdom has
produced a synthesized religion in which gods lose their sectarian character. The festival of Nepal also furnish this
instance of harmony in ample measures. A country's strength expressed through its cultural solidarity is thus
provided by Nepal's festivals.

References

1. Our social studies, book-8 , Ekta publication

2. g]kfnsf rf8kj{x?

3. www.visitnepal.com

4. www.hotelnepal.com

5. www.raftnepal.com

6. www.ekantipur.com