celebrate festivals

Festivals - Hindu & Buddhist occasions

"Let's celebrate something today!"

Photo credit:
John Pavelka, FaceMePLS, Majipa Lakhey and Simon Desmarais.

Nepal is not only the land of the mountains; it’s also the land of festivals. Our country celebrates more than 50 festivals every year. During these festivals you get to see Nepal in a unique way. Join us!

When?
Religious festivals don’t have a fixed date every year, but are set by astrologers according the lunar calendar. However, most festivals we celebrate in February/March and August/September.

Be part of it!
Interested in joining one of our festivals? Read more about our festivals below or contact us, We will tell you more and explain when and where to go.

calender

January

Festival of education and marriage
Saraswati Puja (or Shree Panchami) is the day we celebrate the birthday of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. Students worship their pens and books to please the Goddess to favour in their studies to become wise and knowledgeable. Many people visit the idol of Goddess Saraswati to offer her flowers, sweets and fruits. Mostly they come to Swoyambhunath.

This day is also a very promising day for marriage as we believed that Goddess Saraswati herself blesses couples.

This festival we celebrate in January or February.

February

Tibetan New Year
Lhosar is the New Year for Tibetans and Sherpas of Nepal. Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu like Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are decorated with eye catching colourful prayer flags. People perform traditional dances and welcome their New Year with feasts and family gatherings. Also they wear their new clothes and finest jewelries and exchange gifts. 

Lord of the Lords
(Maha) Shivaratri or the night of Lord Shiva is one of the major festivals of Nepal. This day is dedicated to the Lord of the Lords, the most worshipped God in our Hindu religion.

More than 100,000 of Hindu devotees gather in and around Pashupatinath temple – one of the holiest Hindu shrines in Kathmandu. They take a dip and bath in the holy river at early dawn and fast that day. Many devotees also freely indulge in using marijuana and other intoxicating substances as these things are believed to please Lord Shiva. So marijuana use is legal in Nepal, only on this sacred day ...

We celebrate Shivaratri in February or March.

Holi
This festival of water and colours is also known as “Phagu” in Nepal. This day is observed to rejoice the extermination of the female demon Holika. Together with her King brother, they conspired to kill his son Pralhad as he was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This day, we, especially the young ones, wander through the streets in groups on foot or vehicles with various colours smeared all over us. People in houses make merry throwing colours and water balloons at each other and also to us walking down the streets!

We celebrate Holi festival in February or March.

April

New Year
Our New Years' is also known as “Navavarsha”. Our official calendar begins from the first day of the first month Baisakh. This very first day is observed as our New Year which usually falls in the second week of April. People go for picnics, have get-togethers and celebrate the day socializing in various ways as this day is also a national holiday.

May

Buddha Jayanti
Buddha’s birth anniversary we celebrate every year. Lord Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautam but he abandoned his luxurious life when he realised the misery of mankind and went in search of enlightenment. On his birthday many people swarm in Swoyambhunath and Boudhanath to pay homage to him. But people also visit his birth place in Lumbini and chant prayers and burn butter lamps.

We celebrate Buddha's birthday in May.

 

August

Gai Jatra
This festival of cows we celebrate every year since we see cow as a Goddess. Furthermore cow is the national animal of Nepal. It's one of the most popular festivals in Nepal as it is full of humor, satire, comedy, mockery and shades of sadness too at the same time. This festival also purges people who have lost their loved ones as they get to console themselves as to they are not the only ones who have been bereaved. It teaches us to accept death as a part of life.

We celebrate our cow festival in August or September.

Krishna Janmastami
The birth anniversary of Lord Sri Krishna, we believe him to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. All the devotees assemble in Krishna Mandir, the ancient Krishna Temple in Patan Durbar Square. Same to other temples with the idol of Sri Krishna where devotees go to offer prayers, flowers, food, sweets and chant hymns too.

We celebrate Lord Krishna's birthday in August or September.

Teej
This is a day especially for married Hindu women. They wear beautiful red saris with shining potes (glass beads). From early dawn, women queue up in the multiple lines in Pashupatinath to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. You'll see women singing and dancing almost everywhere in Nepal. Furthermore they fast and pray Lord Shiva for the long, healthy and prosperous life of their husbands and their families. Unmarried women also observe this festival with unabated zeal with the hope that they will get to marry a good husband.

This festival is held in August or September.

Indra Jatra
This festival both Hindus and Buddhists celebrate and is named after Lord Indra - the God of Rain and also the King of Heaven. The festival lasts for eight days with singing, mask dancing and rejoicing. The chariot of Kumari – the Living Goddess is taken through the main streets of Kathmandu with much fanfare. The crowd of excited people from performers to spectators engulfs the streets of Kathmandu during this festival. You even get to enjoy various classical dances like the elephant dance, lakhe – a very popular dance of a man with a mask.

We celebrate Indra Jatra in August or September.

September

Dashain (Bijaya Dashami)
During the month of Kartik, we celebrate our biggest festival of the year Dashain. It is also the longest and the most auspicious festival in our calendar. Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country celebrate Dashain. For fifteen days we celebrate, take time off from work and spend time with our families.

We celebrate Dashain late September or early October.

October

Tihar
This festival of lights is the second biggest festival after Dashain. This festival lasts for five days and people worship Laxmi – the Goddess of Wealth. We clean and decorate our house and light candles with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter our house. The whole place looks illuminating.

For five days we worship and honour crows, dogs and cows with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day when the sister(s) worship their brother(s) for a long and healthy life.

Tihar we celebrate in October or November.

 

for answers & bookings

share this with your fellow traveler

[sgmb id="2"]

Post Author
Govinda
Namaste! As a Nepali I proudly welcome you to my beautiful country. When I first started doing business, I runned a trekking gear shop in Thamel, Kathmandu. Since I have discovered the joy of traveling myself, I got the license for mountain trekking guide. And now, with by Mountain People, I am excited to show travelers from all over the world Nepal’s most beautiful places.