Major 25 Festivals of Nepal

  • Ganesh Adhikari
  • Last Updated on Sep 10, 2023

Festivals of Nepal are an integral part of Nepalese culture. Nepal is known for its vibrant culture and rich heritage. Festival is an integral part of Nepalese culture. As a result of the diversified population, Nepal celebrates several festivals throughout the year. Each festival has unique traditions, rituals, and significance, reflecting the country's rich cultural diversity.

Dashain, one of the popular festivals, is in September or October. The 15-day festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is in October or November. In addition to these, Nepal also observes several other festivals, such as Chhath, Teej, Bisket Jatra, and Holi.

These festivals bring people together and attract many tourists. Through these festivals, tourists experience Nepali culture and witness the country's unique traditions and customs. Nepal's festivals are an unforgettable experience for all who participate in them.

Table of Contents

Bisket Jatra

Bisket Jatra is a traditional New Year festival in the ancient city of Bhaktapur. This festival marks the beginning of the Nepali New Year. The festival takes place over nine days in April.

King Jagajyoti Malla started this festival because he was fascinated with a beautiful princess's legend and story. The princess was cursed, which caused her spouse to die the next day. Eventually, a courageous man freed her by eliminating the serpents that killed the spouse. The monarch was so moved by the tale that he made up Bisket Jatra to retell it.

The celebration begins following a specific Tantric rite performed in Bhaktapur's Taumadhi Tole Bhairav temple. Devotees around the city pull chariots carrying statues of Lord Bhairav and Goddess Bhadrakali.

The chariot is stopped at four locations where people offer prayers and perform rituals. On the last day, a tug-of-war is held between two groups representing different parts of Bhaktapur. People believe the winning team will bring good fortune to their community.

Buddha Jayanti

Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima. The festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. Gautam Buddha was born, gained nirvana, and passed away all on the Baisakh full moon.

Devotees usually celebrate the festival on the full moon day in May. Buddhists perform various religious activities during the festival, such as meditating and praying. Likewise, devotees illuminate Maya Devi’s temple at nighttime with thousands of lamps. Devotees also honor Buddha at the stupas in the Kathmandu Valley, particularly in Swayambhunath and Boudhanath.

Christmas

Christmas is an annual Christian festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Billions of people worldwide observe the festival, which falls on 25 December every year.

Nepal celebrates Christmas in a friendly way. Churches in Nepal also hold special Christmas services, and some even organize Christmas carol concerts.

Christmas has become increasingly popular among young people in Nepal in recent years. Many restaurants and cafes in major cities also offer special Christmas menus and promotions, and some organize Christmas parties.

Chhath

People, mainly in the southern parts of Nepal, celebrate Chhath. Devotees dedicate the festival to the sun god, Surya, and his wife, Usha. People celebrate the festival in Kartik, which falls in October or November.

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata both mention Chhath celebrations. When Lord Ram and his wife Sita returned from exile, they observed a fast in homage to the Sun deity. And only broke it as the sun was setting. This later developed into Chhath puja. While in the Mahabharata, Karna, the son of Lord Surya, is credited with contributing to the poor. He also prayed to the Sun deity while standing in the river.

Chhath is a four-day celebration. It involves holy baths, fasting, worship, and offering the sun at sunrise and dusk.
On day one, devotees take a holy bath in the river. On day two, they observe a complete fast. Day three involves another day of fasting and offering Arghya, or water offerings, to the rising sun. On the final day, devotees end their fast.

Dashain

Dashain, also known as Bijaya Dashami, is the most important festival in Nepal. It celebrates the victory of good over evil and the success of truth over lies.

Nepalese people celebrate Dashain for fifteen days, typically in September or October. However, the most important day falls on the tenth day, Bijaya Dashami.

The first nine days of the festival are dedicated to worshiping Goddess Durga in all nine manifestations. This symbolizes the celebration of female power. Hindu mythology describes the triumph of the goddess of goodness, Durga, over the monster Mahisasur.

People plant barley seeds on Ghatasthapana, the first day of the festival. They gather flowers and banana leaves to offer the gods on the seventh day, known as Phulpati. The festival's most significant day is its eighth day, Maha Ashtami. To appease the goddess, Durga, people sacrifice animals on this day. The tenth day, known as Bijaya Dashami, is when people visit friends and family for blessings.

If you want to join the Dashain festival, contact

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Physical Address: Paknajol Marg 43 Thamel, Chhetrapati Chowk

Kathmandu, Nepal

Email: acevisionnepal@gmail.com, info@acevisiontreks.com

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+97714268606

Why Ace Vision

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  •  Our services are never compromised when it comes to securing their quality.
  •  We offer prompt responses to our client's requests within 24 hours of making any request.
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Dumji Festival

The Sherpa community of Nepal celebrates Dumji, a traditional festival that lasts four days. It is usually held in May or June. It is a religious festival that marks the beginning of the harvest season.

During Dumji, the Sherpas celebrate the arrival of their patron saint, Guru Rinpoche. He is believed to have brought Buddhism to Tibet and Nepal. The Sherpas perform traditional dances, sing songs, and participate in various cultural activities throughout the festival. They also offer prayers and offerings to their deities for good health, prosperity, and happiness.

Yolmo is honored with a special puja on the second day. On the third day, Yolmo is welcomed with a large parade. Yolmo is said to descend the mountain to bless the people on this day.

On the fourth and last day of the festival, people assemble around a sacred fire. People lit it in the town square to pray for a plentiful crop. Sherpas enjoy traditional dishes during Dumji.

The festival is a time for families and friends to unite, celebrate, and strengthen their bonds.

Eid

Eid, also known as Eid al-Fitr, is one of the most important festivals in the Islamic calendar. Muslims celebrate it worldwide. In Nepal, it is a time for Muslims to unite with their families.

On this day, they celebrate the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. On the day of Eid, Muslims gather at mosques for prayers and then exchange greetings.

The celebration involves prayer, feasting, and spending time with family and friends. Traditional foods and sweets are also an essential part of the celebration.

Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra, also known as the festival of Cows. The festival is celebrated in August or September and lasts eight days. It is believed that Gai Jatra helps people to come to terms with the death of loved ones.

The festivity started as the Queen of Malla descent was lamenting her son's untimely passing. The monarch tried to comfort her by calling every family who had lost a loved one out in a procession. This showed the queen she was not alone in her pain.

During Gai Jatra, people dress in colorful costumes and parade through the streets with decorated cows. Families who have lost a loved one during the year carry a picture of the deceased.

Holi Festivals of Nepal

People in Nepal celebrate Holi, also known as the 'festival of colors' in the spring, usually in February or March. It marks the victory of good over evil.

The destruction of the demoness Holika has given rise to the celebration of Holi. Holika was set to burn Prince Prahlad, a genuine follower of Lord Vishnu, but instead, she was burned to ashes. To mark this event, the people sprinkled Prince Prahlad with colorful water.

The people celebrate the festival over two days. On the first day, Holika Dahan, people light bonfires to symbolize the burning of evil spirits. On the second day, known as Holi, people mark each other with brightly colored powders and water.

Indra Jatra

People in Kathmandu celebrate Indra Jatra, an eight-day-long festival dedicated to Indra. Indra is the god of rain and heaven. People celebrate it in September to mark the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of autumn.
King Gunakamadeva started the event to mark the establishment of Kathmandu. At the Kathmandu Durbar Square, the people erect Linga—a pole.

Nearly every evening, masked dancers known as Lakhay performs in the streets. The possession of a Kumari chariot is another. Kumari is believed to be the incarnation of the Hindu goddess Taleju and is represented by a young girl. During this celebration, oil wicks were devoted to illuminating the shrines and historical palaces.

Janai Purnima

Brahmin and Chhetri men wear a sacred cotton thread across their chest called 'Janai' during Janai Purnima. These men renew their sacred thread and vow to follow the path of truth and righteousness. The thread is believed to provide protection and spiritual purification. Janai Purnima usually falls in August.

Likewise, other people also wear a sacred thread called 'Doro' around their wrists. Devotees believe it brings them good luck. Similarly, sisters tie Rakhi, a sacred thread, on their brothers' wrists during Rakshya Bandhan.

In addition to these rituals, people consume 'Kwati' during Janai Purnima. This is a special soup made of nine different types of beans. The people believe the soup has purifying properties and is consumed to cleanse the body and soul.

The festival also involves taking a ritual bath in holy water bodies. Devotees believe that bathing during Janai Purnima purifies the body and soul. They also believe that it helps in attaining spiritual liberation.

Krishna Janmashtami

Lord Krishna’s birthday is celebrated every year by celebrating Krishna Janmashtami. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, the festival is observed on the eighth day of Shravana (July-August).

Devotees celebrate Krishna Janmashtami with great enthusiasm across Nepal. The festival begins with devotees fasting throughout the day and breaking their fast at midnight after performing the Janmashtami puja.

The festival's highlight is the midnight celebration of Lord Krishna's birth, Janmotsav. Devotees gather in temples and homes to offer prayers, sing devotional songs and perform Aarati (lighting of lamps). In this ritual, the idol of Lord Krishna is bathed in milk, curd, honey, and other promising substances.

Losar

The word Losar comes from the combination of two Tibetan words - "lo" which "year" and "Sar" which means "new".Historically, Losar was a winter festival. Nowadays, people of specific ethnic groups celebrate three types of Losar in Nepal.

The Gurung community celebrates Tamu Losar, usually in December or January. The Sherpa community celebrates Gyalpo Losar, usually in February. Finally, the Tamang community celebrates Sonam Losar in February or March.

During Losar, people dress traditionally to attend cultural programs. People also perform Selo dances and rites on this day in Buddhist stupas and monasteries. People do it to defeat the opposing troops and offer encouragement.

Maghe Sankranti

Maghe Sankranti is a festival celebrated by Hindus in Nepal. It falls on the first day of the month of Magh, which usually falls in mid-January.

The festival is also known as Makar Sankranti. One of the main traditions of the festival is eating special foods - yam, sweet potatoes, and ghee.

This day marks the beginning of a period of longer and warmer days. In other words, Sankranti heralds the end of the winter season and the start of the new harvest or spring.

Maghe Sankranti is also important to particular ethnic groups in Nepal. For instance, this day is considered the beginning of the Tharu year. Also, the Magar community considers it to be their main annual event.

Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. The festival usually falls in February or March. The event commemorates how we overcame ignorance and darkness in life and the universe. On this day, Shiva is said to have performed the cosmic dance known as Tandav.

The festival's beginnings are the subject of numerous stories. According to one of these tales, a pot filled with poison appeared during the churning of the ocean. All the gods and demons flocked to Lord Shiva for protection. Lord Shiva then swallowed it and kept it in his throat, believing it would bring the end of the world. Therefore, the day signifies the culmination of Lord Shiva's efforts to save the world.

During the festival, devotees fast and offer prayers to Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and transformation. Many people visit the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, one of the holiest places of Lord Shiva. At the temple, they offer their prayers and seek blessings.

If you want to join the Maha Shivaratri festival, contact

Ace Vision Treks & Tours (P.) Ltd

Address: Paknajol Marg 43 Thamel, Chhetrapati Chowk

Kathmandu, Nepal

Email: acevisionnepal@gmail.com

info@acevisiontreks.com

Call/WhatsApp: +977-9851025312/+97714268606

Why Ace Vision

  •  Ace Vision Treks and Tours professionals ensure safety and security are always in the highest order.
  •  Our services are never compromised when it comes to securing their quality.
  • We offer prompt responses to our client's requests within 24 hours of making any request.
  • At Tour Trekking Company, transparency is a must when setting the price of a trip for a client.
  • We have a group of supremely talented individuals with expertise in various fields. This has helped us efficiently carry out the planned plans to run a trip.

Mani Rimdu Festival

The Sherpa community celebrates Mani Rimdu, a three-day festival during the tenth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar. They usually observe the festival in October or November.

Mani Rimdu honors Guru Rinpoche for establishing Buddhism in Tibet. It is mainly celebrated in the Tengboche Monastery of the Everest region. This is a 19-day celebration honoring the advent of Buddhism in the Khumbu region.

The prayer flags are raised on the gompa on "Wong Day" the first day of the celebration. This involves the monk's performance of the revered Mani Rimdu dances during their initiation.

On the second day of Mani Rimdu, monks dress up for the Cham (mask) dance. This is commonly referred to as "Chen Day”. It serves as a good luck charm and a deterrent against evil spirits.

The Thongdrol, a huge silk appliqué thangka, is displayed on "Ngagpa Day" the festival's last day. Those who view this are said to receive blessings and freedom.

Nag Panchami

Nag Panchami is a traditional Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal to worship and pay homage to the serpent deity, Nag. The festival usually falls in July or August.

The celebration is said to have originated from the worship of snakes in Hindu mythology. Snakes are believed to have the power to bring rain and prosperity to the people. People decorate their houses with images of snakes to mark the festival.

During the festival, people offer prayers and make offerings of milk, sweets, flowers, and fruits to the Nags. The festival is marked by a ritual bath for which people visit ponds and rivers. The belief is that the Nags reside in the water bodies, and bathing is a way of seeking their blessings.

Nepali New Year

Nepali New Year, also known as Nepal Sambat, is the cultural and traditional New Year Nepalis celebrate. It falls in April and is based on the lunar calendar. The festival marks the beginning of a new year.

The Nepalese calendar is 56.7 years earlier than the Gregorian solar calendar. The beginning of the Nepali New Year can be traced to the reign of Emperor Vikramaditya.

People socialize during the day by visiting their family and getting together with friends. Nepali New Year is celebrated enthusiastically and is a time for new beginnings, hope, and prosperity.

The festival involves various rituals and customs, including cleaning and decorating homes to bring good luck. Likewise, greetings and gifts are exchanged, and feasts with family and friends are organized. People also visit temples and shrines to seek blessings and perform religious rituals.

Rato Machhendranath Jatra

A month-long celebration is conducted in honor of Machhendranath, a deity regarded as the god of rain and harvest, making it one of the greatest celebrations in Nepal. It is held every year in the city of Patan.

Building a wooden chariot to transport Machhendranath's statue marks the start of the festival. The chariot is decorated with vibrant textiles, flowers, and gifts and is constructed by traditional craftspeople using age-old methods.

In May and June, the event is held at Patan, a city in the Kathmandu Valley. The festival's centerpiece is Machhendranath's chariot being pulled through the streets. Thousands of worshippers assemble during this occasion to pull the chariot through the streets of Patan and Kathmandu. The pulling of the chariot is said to bring rain, wealth, and good fortune.

The festival also features a variety of cultural events, such as performances of traditional dance, music, and theater. Throughout the festival, local food and artisan vendors are also set up.

Sakela

The indigenous Kirati community in Nepal celebrates the festival of Sakela, primarily in the hilly areas of eastern Nepal. It is a harvest festival that marks the end of the planting season and the beginning of the harvesting season. The festival falls in the month of Baisakh (April-May).

The highlight of the Sakela festival is the Sakela dance, a traditional dance performed by both men and women. The dance accompanies traditional musical instruments like the Dhol, Jhyamta, and Narsingha.

The festival also includes a ritual animal sacrifice. The gods offer goat or buffalo as a symbol of gratitude and respect. The meat from the sacrifice is then distributed among the community members as prasad (blessed food).

Sakela is an important festival for the Kirati people of Nepal. It reflects their rich cultural heritage and connection to nature and the agricultural cycle.

Saraswati Puja

Nepalese celebrate Saraswati Puja, also known as Basanta Panchami, every year in Nepal to honor the goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. They celebrate the festival in late January or early February, marking the arrival of the spring season.

The festival is a celebration of knowledge, wisdom, and creativity. During the festival, people offer prayers and offerings to the goddess in various temples and homes.

Teej

Teej is a Hindu festival celebrated by women in Nepal. It falls in August or September and is celebrated for three days. The festival is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva's companion.

To find a respectable husband, women gather to rejoice and ask Lord Shiva for special blessings during Teej. At the same time, the wife prays for her husband to live a long and prosperous life.

Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayan King, is claimed to have begun the festival. According to legend, she spent years fasting and living a hermit lifestyle to marry Lord Shiva. As a result, women fast on this day and dance to show their devotion. Also, they abstain from eating anything and drinking water during the day.

On the first day, women gather and have a grand feast called ‘Dar’ to prepare for the next day. The second day is known as the fasting day. In the evening, they break their fast by performing puja. The third day is known as Rishi Panchami.

Tihar

Tihar, also known as Deepawali, is a five-day festival celebrated in Nepal by Hindus. It usually falls in October or November and celebrates lights, wealth, and happiness.

The celebrations reportedly started honoring Yama, the god of death, and his sister Yamuna. According to reports, she repeatedly sent for him before meeting her brother alone. Yamuna worshiped Yamaraj and encircled him with flowers, Tika, and a type of grass called "Dubo" in hopes of extending his life. She pleaded for Yamaraj to remain until the flower, "Dubo" and oil had completely dried. Because of this, each sister worships her brother with Tika, flowers, and Dubo while wishing them a long life.

With Kag Tihar, the festival officially kicks off when people worship crows. Following this is Kukur Tihar, a time when people worship dogs. On the third day, Gai Tihar, people worship cows. The fourth day is Laxmi Puja, when the people worship the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. The fifth and final day is Bhai Tika when brothers and sisters celebrate their bond and exchange gifts.

During Tihar, people decorate their homes with colorful lights, oil lamps, and flowers and make colorful mandalas outside their homes. People also sing carols and dance from house to house during Tihar to receive gifts.

Tiji Festival in Upper Mustang

Tiji Festival is a three-day festival celebrated in the Upper Mustang. It usually takes place in May and is celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over evil. "Tiji" is an abbreviation for the Tempa Chirim, a prayer for world peace.

Tiji celebrates the success of Buddha, who took the form of Dorje Jono to subdue evil energies. It is believed that Padmasambhava Guru Rinpoche gave him directives to bring prosperity to Upper Mustang.

People seek permission from the King to celebrate the festival in the King's Palace Plaza. On the festival's first day, the monks perform a dance called the "chasing of the demons". This symbolizes the eviction of evil from the region.

The second day features a dance that portrays the deity's victory over the demon. The final day ends with a ceremony to dismiss any remaining negative energies.

Yomari Punhi

The Newar community in Nepal celebrates Yomari Punhi. It usually falls in December. Yomari Punhi is a celebration of the Yomari, a special sweet dumpling type. It is made of rice flour filled with molasses or sesame seeds. The dumpling is shaped like a fish, symbolizing prosperity and good luck.

The celebration has Hindu mythology at its foundation. According to the tale, the inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley were being terrorized by a demon. Ultimately, Deity Vajrayogini defeated the monster.

Yomari was presented to the goddess by the people as an offering, which she gladly accepted. On the day of Yomari Punhi, people wake up early and visit local temples to make offerings. They also prepare Yomari at home and offer it to family members, friends, and neighbors.

Conclusion

Nepal is a diverse country with a rich cultural heritage; its festivals prove that. There are the Hindu festivals of Dashain, Holi, and Maha Shivaratri. Likewise, people celebrate Buddhist festivals like Buddha Jayanti and Mani Rimdu with great pomp. These festivals reflect Nepal's diversity and signify unity among people from different communities.

Visiting Nepal during these festivals is an excellent opportunity to experience the country's vibrant culture and traditions. You get to learn about Nepali culture throughout the year as different festivals happen at different times.

If you want to join any festival, contact

Ace Vision Treks & Tours (P.) Ltd

Physical Address: Paknajol Marg 43 Thamel, Chhetrapati Chowk

Kathmandu, Nepal

Email:   acevisionnepal@gmail.com, info@acevisiontreks.com

WhatsApp: +977-9851025312

+97714268606

Why Ace Vision

  •  Ace Vision Treks and Tours professionals are dedicated to ensuring that the level of safety and security is always of the highest order.
  •  Our services are never compromised when it comes to securing their quality.
  • We offer prompt responses to our client's requests within 24 hours of making any request.
  • Contact Ace Vision Treks Company, transparency is a must when setting the price of a trip for a client.
  • We have a group of supremely talented individuals with expertise in various fields. This has helped us efficiently carry out the planned plans to run a trip.

 

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Ganesh Adhikari

Ganesh Adhikari

Ganesh is an adventure outdoor enthusiast originally from Gorkha, Nepal. I hiked Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, and Manaslu region and the most famous teahouse trekking in Nepal.  Besides Hiking, I provide online travel packages for travelers to value their time with family and friends. As well, I always provide updated travel information about the Himalayas! what's Going on? let's keep and touch with me for an unforgettable travel experience in a lifetime. I organize private tours for hikers per your interest and time frame.

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