Nepal is a small country located in South Asia, and it is known for its beautiful mountain landscapes, including the Himalayas. It is also rich in natural resources, such as water, timber, and minerals. In addition to its natural beauty and resources, Nepal is known for its unique culture and vibrant, colorful festivals.
Nepal has a diverse population of various ethnicities and nationalities, each with its own beliefs, customs, and traditions. Despite these differences, the people of Nepal come together to celebrate the major festivals, which are of national significance.
Dashain and Tihar are two such festivals that people of all ethnicities and religions mark. Some festivals are based on significant events in mythology and epic literature, such as Lhosar, which is a Tibetan New Year festival celebrated by the Tibetan community in Nepal, and Bisket Jatra, which is a festival that is celebrated in the old valley towns of Nepal based on a story of the god Bhairava and his consort, Bhadrakali and so on.
These festivals allow people to come together, celebrate their cultural traditions, and honor their gods and ancestors. Overall, the festivals of Nepal are an important part of the country's cultural heritage and provide a glimpse into its diverse population's rich history and traditions. The cultural diversity of Nepal is reflected in the various festivals celebrated in the country.
The following are 16 major Nepal festivals showcasing the country's diverse culture.
Dashain Bijaya Dashami
Dashain is Nepal's biggest and most important festival, celebrated by people of all ethnicities and religions. It is a time for family gatherings and taking Tika blessed from seniors, the exchange of gifts, and the performance of traditional rituals.
The festival lasts for 15 days and is observed in October or November in the high season for trekking, depending on the lunar calendar. The exact date of Dashain changes from year to year, and the lunar calendar determines it.
The festival is named after the goddess Durga, the Divine Mother. According to Hindu mythology, Durga fought and defeated the demon Mahishasura, and Dashain celebrates her victory. During the festival, people perform rituals and make offerings to the goddess to seek her blessings and protection. One of the main rituals of Dashain is the sacrifice of animals, such as goats and buffaloes.
This is done to honor Durga and to seek her blessings. Another important ritual is the construction of a bamboo pole, which is decorated with colorful flags and placed in a central location in the community. This pole represents the victory of good over evil and is worshipped during the festival.
Tihar Bhai Tika (Tihar)
Tihar, also known as Deepawali or Bhai Tika, is a five-day Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal and some parts of India. It is a celebration of the relationship between brothers and sisters, gods and animals, and humans and the gods.
Tihar is usually celebrated in Kartik, the seventh month of the Nepali calendar after the 15 days of dash again. The exact date of Tihar varies from year to year, as it is based on the lunar calendar. In general, Tihar falls in October or November of the Gregorian calendar.
Bhai Tika is one of the most important Hindu festivals for brothers and sisters. It falls on Tihar's last day (fifth day) and is also known as Bhai Tihar and Bhai Dujh (among Madhesi communities).
This festival celebrates the bond between brother and their sister. During this, the sisters worship and pray for Lord Yama (Lord of Death), wishing their brothers a long and prosperous life.
During Tihar, people decorate their homes with lamps and colorful rangoli designs, exchanging gifts and sweets with each other. The festival is also marked by the performance of traditional music and dance and the offering of prayers and rituals to the gods. One of Tihar's most important rituals is worshiping the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
On the second day of the festival, sisters put a tika on the forehead of their brothers and offered them, sweets as a sign of love and protection. This day is known as Bhai Tika.
Chhat is a traditional Hindu celebration that originated in the Indian subcontinent, especially in the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jharkhand, as well as the Madhesh and Chitwan provinces of Nepal. It is a Hindu festival celebrated by people of the Bihari and Maithili communities. The Chhat festival is held in the month of Kartik, the second month in the lunar calendar of the Hindu tradition.
Kartik usually falls in October or November in the Gregorian calendar, and the exact dates of Kartik vary from year to year. The rituals of Chhath Puja are quite elaborate, and they involve several different steps. First, people prepare for the puja by cleaning their homes and making offerings of food and flowers to the gods. They also prepare special dishes and sweets to be offered as part of the puja.
On the day of Chhath Puja, people begin the day with a bath in a river or other water body. They then perform puja at the riverbank, offering arghya and other offerings to the sun god. The puja is typically performed by women, who are led by a priest or other religious leader.
After the puja is complete, people break their fast and share the food and sweets that have been prepared. The festival is also marked by traditional music and dance performance and exchanging of gifts and blessings with family and friends.
Maghe Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal and some parts of India. The celebration is often called Makar Sankranti. The festival is believed to be the beginning of warmer days compared to the cold month of Poush (December).
It is considered that from this day, the sun starts to migrate toward the Northern hemisphere. In Nepal, it is observed as the start of the lucky month of Magh. Maghe Sankranti usually falls in January of the Gregorian calendar, and the exact date varies yearly based on the lunar calendar. One of the main rituals of Maghe Sankranti is offering arghya, or water offerings, to the sun god.
People also offer food and other offerings to the gods and perform puja at temples and other religious sites. Along with participating in religious rituals, individuals often practice singing, dancing, and other cultural activities, giving and receiving gifts from family and friends.
Holi (Phagu Purnima)
Hindus in Nepal and some regions of India celebrate Holi Phagu Purnima. It is also referred to as Holi Phalguna Purnima or Fagu Purnima. It was first observed as a festival to mark the arrival of spring, successful harvests, and the fertility of the land.
Phagu Purnima is another name for the full moon that falls during the month of Phalguna in the Hindu calendar, which usually corresponds to March in the Gregorian calendar. The exact date of the full moon changes from year to year based on the lunar calendar, a calendar based on the moon's cycles. One of the most distinctive features of Holi is the use of color.
On this holiday, people throw colored powder and water at each other to celebrate and spread joy. This tradition is known as "playing Holi," and it is a fun and playful way for people to come together and have fun. In addition to playing with color, Holi is also a time for people to come together and enjoy traditional foods and drinks.
This includes sweet treats like gujiyas and bhang, a drink made from cannabis. Holi is also a time for religious rituals and ceremonies. Many Hindus observe the holiday by visiting temples, offering prayers, and participating in special puja ceremonies. Some people also fast or abstain from certain activities during Holi to show devotion to their faith.
Shivaratri, also known as Maha Shivaratri or the "Great Night of Shiva," is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the most important deities in the Hindu pantheon.
Shivaratri is observed on the 14th day of the dark half of the Hindu lunar month of Phalguna, which usually falls in late February or early March.
Hindus hold a fast and participate in several rites and festivities on Shivaratri to worship Lord Shiva. This includes going to temples and praying, completing puja rituals, and participating in all-night vigils. In addition, many individuals recite the "Shiva Purana," a Hindu text that describes Lord Shiva's involvement in the creation and devastation of the cosmos.
Giving bael leaves to Lord Shiva is one of the most significant Shivaratri ceremonies. Bael leaves are thought to possess extraordinary abilities and are regarded as extremely lucky. Other sacrifices like milk, water, and fruit are frequently given to Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is a period for cultural events in addition to religious observances. Processions and parades draw large crowds, and Lord Shiva-themed music and dance shows are frequently staged.
Buddha Jayanti, also known as Vesak or Buddha Purnima, is a holiday that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It is observed by Buddhists around the world as a celebration of the love of compassion.
Buddha Jayanti is celebrated on the full moon day of Baisakh through Theravada tradition following the Buddhist calendar, which falls in April or May. During Buddha Jayanti, parades and processions honor the Buddha, and people often decorate their homes and temples with flowers and colorful flags.
There are also often music and dance performances, as well as traditional foods and drinks served during the holiday. Overall, the festival of Buddha Jayanti is significant and profoundly relevant to Buddhists all around the world.
Janai Purnima, also known as Raksha Bandhan, is a Hindu holiday celebrated annually in Nepal and other parts of South Asia. Rakshya Bandhan means "bond of purity and security" since it is what this celebration celebrates.
The Janai Purnima holiday is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Shravana, which usually falls in July or August.
The festival of Janai Purnima is a time for brothers and sisters to come together and celebrate the special bond of love and affection between them. On this day, sisters tie a sacred thread called a "rakhi" around the wrist of their brothers, symbolizing the strong bond of protection and love between them. Brothers, in turn, vow to protect and care for their sisters and offer them gifts as a symbol of their love and appreciation.
Janai Purnima is a deeply meaningful holiday for Hindus. It is a time for families and loved ones to come together and celebrate the special bond of love and affection between them. Whether you are a Hindu or simply interested in learning more about this ancient religion, Janai Purnima is a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate the beauty of familial love and connection.
Teej is a great women's festival in Nepal that is celebrated for 2 to 3 days. It is dedicated to the goddess Parvati also called Haritalika Teej. Generally, Teej lies in around August according to the Hindu Bikram Sambat calendar.
Traditionally, The women eat food the night before fasting called "Dar" and fast the next day married women fast for good health and the long life of their husbands and family likewise unmarried women fast for the good husband they wish to have.
Worshipping Shiva at Shiva temples, women sing, dance, and pray to God Shiva and Goddess Parvati for a happy and prosperous married life.
Indra Jatra is a festival celebrated annually in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. The festival is held in honor of Indra, the king of the gods and the god of rain, and is one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in Nepal.
The eight-day-long, exuberant festival of the Newari community of the Kathmandu Valley is a time to honor the recently deceased and to pay homage to the Hindu god Indra and his mother Dagini to ensure they bless the coming harvest. This festival is typically celebrated in the month of Bhadau in the Nepali calendar, corresponding to August or September in the Gregorian calendar.
The festival's exact date varies from year to year, as it is based on the lunar calendar. Indra Jatra is also marked by a series of processions and parades that take place throughout the city of Kathmandu. These processions feature a variety of cultural performances, including traditional music and dance, and are a popular attraction for locals and tourists.
One of the most distinctive features of Indra Jatra is the use of masks and costumes. During the festival, many people dress up in elaborate masks and costumes depicting various gods, demons, and mythical creatures. These masks and costumes are often very colorful and ornate and are an important part of the cultural traditions of Nepal.
Gaijatra sometimes referred to as the "Event of Cows," is an annual traditional festival in Nepal. People gather to commemorate the life and teachings of the Hindu god Lord Shiva during the festival, which is held in his honor.
The Nepali calendar month of Bhadra, which corresponds to August or September in the Gregorian calendar, is when Gaijatra is traditionally observed.
Since the event is based on the lunar calendar, the date changes yearly. Gaijatra is a festival that is commemorated by several religious and cultural observances. Cows, revered as holy creatures in Hinduism, are one of the festival's defining characteristics. People engage in parades and processions across the city while wearing cow costumes during the holiday.
These processions frequently feature music and dance and are a favorite attraction for locals and visitors. Many religious rites and ceremonies are also held during Gaijatra, in addition to the cow parades. Numerous people visit temples to pray to the gods, and special puja rites are frequently organized in Lord Shiva's honor.
Shree (Basanta) Panchami
A major festival in Nepal is Shree Panchami, also known as Basanta Panchami or Saraswati Pooja. Shree (also known as Basanta) Panchami is a Hindu festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. The festival is particularly significant in the eastern states of India, where it is widely celebrated with great fanfare and enthusiasm.
Shree Panchami is typically observed on the fifth day of Magh, according to the Hindu calendar, which falls sometime in late January or early February. One of the main features of Shree Panchami is the worship of the goddess of learning, Saraswati. On this day, Hindus visit temples and offer prayers to Saraswati, seeking her blessings for knowledge, wisdom, and the power of expression.
In many parts of India, it is also customary to place books and musical instruments in front of the goddess as a sign of respect and devotion. The kite flying festival is one of Shree Panchami's most well-known customs. All ages gather to fly kites, frequently trying to keep them in the air the longest. A cheerful and happy environment is produced by the abundance of colorful kites in the air, which come in different forms and sizes.
Ghode Jatra, also known as the "festival of horses," is a traditional annual festival celebrated in Kathmandu, Nepal. The festival is a colorful and lively event, attracting thousands of people from all over the country and beyond.
Ghode Jatra is celebrated on the new moon of Chaitra Sukla Paksha, which corresponds to the western calendar's late March or early April.
Ghode Jatra's origins are buried in mystery and tradition, with several tales and justifications being put out through time. According to a well-known hypothesis, the event goes back to when the Malla rulers of Kathmandu dominated the city and celebrated their military victories with extravagant parades and equestrian exhibitions.
According to a different belief, the horse is said to represent the god Vishnu's steed in Hindu mythology, and the celebration has its origins there. Regardless of where it came from, Ghode Jatra is today a significant cultural occasion in Nepal and is observed with a lot of excitement.
The festival's primary event is a horse parade that showcases incredible horsemanship and equestrian abilities. The procession is headed by the Nepalese army, who ride their horses through Kathmandu's streets while being cheered on by the public.
Kushe Aunsi (also known as Gokarna Aunsi) is a significant day for the people of Nepal. On this day, people honor and pay tribute to their fathers and all fathers in general.
Kushe Aunsi is celebrated on a unique date that falls in the month of Bhadra, the sixth month in the Nepali calendar, and corresponds to August and September in the Gregorian calendar.
Kushe Aunsi is also known as Buwaa ko mukh herne din, which means "the day when the faces of the deceased are revealed." It is believed that on Kushe Aunsi, the spirits of deceased fathers return to the mortal world and visit their families. People typically pay their respects to their fathers by offering them food and other offerings and participating in special prayers and rituals.
The day is also marked by feasting, singing, and dancing. Overall, Kushe Aunsi is a time for people in Nepal to come together and honor fathers' important role in their families and communities.
The auspicious Nepali festival of Mata Tirtha Aunsi, also known as Aamako Mukh Herne Din, honors mothers for their love, selflessness, and provision of life.
Mata Tirtha Aunsi, a holiday in Nepal that celebrates mothers, takes place on Baisakh Krishna Aunsi in the Nepali calendar (Bikram Sambat) during April in the Gregorian calendar.
The Mata Tirtha Temple, situated outside Kathmandu, Nepal, is frequently visited during Mata Tirtha Aunsi. The temple is revered as a holy site for mothers and is thought to possess healing properties. People go to the temple to worship, make gifts to their moms, and ask for blessings and direction. People who lost their moms travel to Matatirtha to celebrate.
In addition to going to the temple, individuals observe Mata Tirtha Aunsi by participating in particular rites and ceremonies that include burning candles and incense and giving their moms food and other offerings. After taking a holy bath, they perform Sida Daan and Shradhha (a holy mixture of rice grain, pure food materials, and clothes).
Guru Purnima is a festival celebrated in India and Nepal to honor spiritual teachers and mentors. It is a time for people to pay tribute to their gurus or spiritual guides and to recognize these teachers' important role in their lives.
Guru Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Ashadha, which typically falls in July in the Gregorian calendar.
Guru Purnima is an important holiday for Hindus and Buddhists and is celebrated with great reverence and devotion. It is a time for people to come together and honor the important role that spiritual teachers play in their lives and to seek guidance and support on their spiritual paths.
People frequently perform special prayers and ceremonies to honor their gurus on this day. They may also present presents and other items as a token of gratitude and devotion.
Nepali New Year
Nepali New Year, also known as Nepali Bikram Sambat or Nepal Sambat, is a holiday celebrated in Nepal to mark the beginning of the new year. It is a solar calendar and is rooted in long-standing Hindu customs.
It takes its name and beginning from the fabled ruler of Ujjain, Vikramaditya. In Nepal, Nepali New Year people come together and celebrate the start of a new year and mark the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. It is celebrated on the first day of the Nepali calendar, that is, on the first day of the month of Baisakh, which falls in mid-April in the Gregorian calendar.
Nepali New Year is a time for celebration, but it's also a time for people to think back on the previous year and make plans for the future. It's a time for individuals to accept the changes and difficulties the new year will offer while looking forward to it with hope and optimism. People often perform specific prayers and ceremonies on Nepali New Year and could also partake in festivities like feasting, singing, and dancing.