festive calendar is hectic. Dasain, celebrated nationwide
in October, is the most important of all Nepalese celebrations
and features the biggest animal sacrifice of the year. Running
a close second is Tihar (November), but unlike Daisan, animals
are honoured rather than slaughtered. Other festivals celebrated
nationally include the water-tinged Holi (March) and Chaitra
Daisan (April), which is yet another bad day for animals.
Hindu festivals number the Haribodhini Ekadashi (November)
and Maha Shivaratri (March), both celebrated in Pashupatinath,
the Gai Jatra (August) in Kathmandu and the Krishna Jayanti
(August/September) in Patan.
celebrations are just as thick on the ground, and include Mani Rimdu
(November) in Solu Khumbu, Buddha Jayanti (May) in Kathmandu, and
Losar (Tibetan New Year) (February) in Swayambhunath, Jawalakhel
and highland communities.
festivals and holidays, many dating to time immemorial, characterize
Nepal and particularly the Kathmandu Valley. Most holidays are scheduled
by a combination of lunar and religious calendars, and so the dates
are not fixed in relation the the western calendar. For the Calendar
of major festival dates for 1999 and the first months of 2000, see
below. For short summaries of the festivals most interesting to
visitors, click here.
Calendar for 2001
summaries of festivals of particular interest to visitors.
and Bisket - Nepalese New Year and the festival of the God Bhairab
in Bhaktapur. Four days of colorful parades and processions
ko Mukh Herne Din - Mother's Day (literally Mother's Face Looking
Machhendranath - the festival of Lokeswar, one of the patron
Gods of Kathmandu. A 40-foot tall chariot with the God's image installed
is pushed and pulled through the streets by hundreds of worshippers.
Buddha Jyanti - Celebrating the birth of the Buddha
May - June
Sasthi - A celebration of the birth of the Hindu warrior God Kumar
marks the beginning of the rice planting season. It's also celebrated
by groups of boys who indulge in stone throwing fights.
major festivals in the worst of the monsoon season.
Kharna - A festival commemorating an ancient victory over a
particularly malevolent devil, Gathemuga. Mock funerals are held
and figures burned in effigy.
- A Buddhist Lent or Ramadan-like holy month of penance and
pilgrimage, climaxing in a rollicking celebration.
Panchami - A festival devoted to the snake gods, who most Nepalese
believe ruled the Valley before the coming of people.
Purna - the festival of changing of the sacred thread which
every Brahmin caste Hindu male wears around his torso.
Jatra - A festival to the sacred cow. Among other symbolisms
of the cow, cows are believed to lead the souls of the dead
to the underworld; and on Gai Jatra Newar households process
around an ancient path believed to mark the city walls of
times past, in honor of recently deceased members of their
families. It's also a carnival celebration with practical
jokes - something like Mardi Gras combined with April Fool's
Jayanti - Celebrating the birth of the Hindu God Krishna.
Aunsi - Nepalese Father's Day
Brata - A womans' festval . Worshippers undergo fasting and
penance and seek good fortune and long life, and a ritual purification
of self. The three (or four) day celebration ends with a great feast.
Jatra - A Kathmandu festival celebrating the legendary capture
of the King of Gods, Indra, in the Kathmandu Valley. This week-long
festival is marked with many processions, street dancers, and the
annual blessing of the King by the Living Goddess of Kathmandu.
- Two weeks of happy celebration and gift-giving, interwoven
with bloody animal sacrifice to appease the mother goddess Durga.
- A festival of lights, when homes and offices are strung
with colored lights and illuminated by candles. This is also
the festival of the Goddess Laxmi, goddess of wealth, and
is celebrated by much good-natured gambling.
Puja - Festival of the Goddess Indriana and of the carious mother
goddesses which protect each village in Nepal.
Bibaha Panchami - Celebrating the wedding of the Goddess Sita
and the God Ram with mock wedding processions
Purnima - A full moon festival celebrating the end of the rice
Machhendranath - A cleansing ritual for the White (seto) Machhendranath,
a counterpart god to the Red (rato) Machhendranath who's chariot
procession is in April-May.
- the Tibetan and Sherpa New Year, celebrated by thousands at
Bodhnath Stupa and monasteries throughout the country.
Ratri - The all day and all night festival of the great God
- A rowdy festival of "colors", in which participants
douse themselves (and sometimes unwary onlookers) with colored powder
and liquid, and generally have a great time.
Jatra - A horse festival, celebrated with coach processions
and races and displays on the main parade ground in Kathmandu.