Kami Rita Sherpa 2nd Ascents of this Season 12 Years of Service

Nepal is rich in Cultural

Posted in: 20th Apr, 2013 Post Category: Blog of Nepal

Nepal is not only the land of mountains, but, also the land of festivals. About more than 50 festivals are celebrated in Nepal every year. While the national festivals have fixed dates, religious festivals follow the lunar calendar, which does not coincide with the solar calendar. All these festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm and galore and all the people take part in these festivals. Some of the festivals which are celebrated in Nepal are Sweta Machhendranath Snan, Maghe Sankranti, Basanta Panchami & Swasthani Puja, Maha Shivaratri, Losar, Dumji, Mani Rimdu, Holi, Ghode Jatra, New Year’s Day, Gunla, Buddha Jayanti, Krishnashtami, Janai Purnima (Raksha Bandhan), Gai Jatra, Teej, Dasain and Tihar.

1. Sweta Machhendranath Snan:  Sweta (white) Machhendranath enjoys a week long festival in which he is bathed, oiled, perfumed, and painted. The Goddess Kumari visits him at his elaborate temple near Asan Tole. If he is pleased by the music, offerings, and attentions of his devotees, the people of the Valley can look forward to satisfactory rainfall in the planting season.

2. Maghe Sankranti: This day is said to be the most significant day for holy bathing despite the weather. This ritual usually takes place at the union of sacred rivers and streams. Maghe Sankranti is the beginning of the holy month of Magh, usually the mid of January. It brings an end to the ill-omened month of Poush (mid-december) when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. Even if it is considered the coldest day of the year, it marks the coming of warmer weather and better days of health and fortune.

3. Basanta Panchami & Swasthani Puja: Basanta, or spring, ushers in the loveliest time of the year. Crowds gather at Kathmandu’s Durbar Square while His Majesty the King and other dignitaries welcome the season as a band plays the traditional song of spring. A different celebration occurs at Swayambhu and at the Nil Barahi shrine near Lazimpat. Saraswati, the goddess of learning, arts and crafts is worshiped at her temples. Artists, musicians, teachers, and students bring flowers, unbroken rice, and other gifts to please her.

4. Maha Shivaratri: Lord Shiva is one of Nepal’s most popular gods. During Maha Shivaratri, his “Great Night”, followers throughout the Indian sub-continent crowds the Pashupati temple to worship him. On this occasion, there is no space even for a sesame seed”. Colorful sadhus, the wandering sages who emulate Shiva, rub ashes over their bodies, give lectures to disciples, meditate, or practice yoga. Devotees pray to Shiva’s image inside the temple at midnight and may queue for up to six hours to look at the image. Bonfires are lit, neighbours and friends share food, and devotees enjoy two days and a night of music, song, and dance throughout the Pashupati complex and in the streets. . This day is the celebration dedicated to the Lord Shiva which falls on the Trayodashi of the month Fagun (February/March).

5. Losar: Sherpa’s and Tibetans welcome their New Year with feasts, family visits and dancing. Families don their finest clothes and jewellery and exchange gifts. Buddhist monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity, and perform dances at the monasteries. Colorful prayer flags decorate streets and rooftops; the colors seem especially brilliant at the Bouddha and Swayambhu stupas. Crowds of celebrants at Bouddha bring in the New Year by throwing tsampa (roasted barley flour) into the air.

6. Dumji: Dumje is an important festival celebrated by the Solu Sherpa Community. Tantric dances, initiations and “Nen-Seg-Phang-sum” i.e. trampling, burning and throwing (the practice to dispel evil spirits) are performed. Dumje is held at different monasteries.

7. Mani Rimdu: Mani Rimdu is similar to Dumje in that it also involves ritual activities and masked tantric dances. However, in Mani Rimdu, Chenrezig (Avalokiteswara, the Buddha of Compassion) appears in neither a wrathful nor peaceful aspect and so the offering of sacramental cakes (torma) is not required. The devotees recite the six syllable mantra of Chenrezig Om Ma Ne Pad Me Hum for several days, placing mani pills in front of the shrine. Thus the name, Mani Rimdu-Rim means ‘pills’, whereas dum means ‘to accomplish’. Mani Rimdu first spread among Sherpa communities at the beginning of 20th century.

8: Holi: Holi is one of the most colorful and playful festivals of Nepal. The chir pole decorated with colorful flags and erected on the first day of Fagu at Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, is a formal announcement to all: hide your good clothes, for throughout the week you may be splashed with colored powder and water balloons. The last day is the wildest: youths covered with red vermillion powder roam the streets as inviting targets.

9: Ghode Jatra: Ghode Jatra is a festival, which doesn’t have a lot of religious ceremonies, but the horse parade is a big attraction and people always look forward to it.

10.  New Year’s Day: Nepalese follow their own calendar system known as the Bikram Era or Bikram Sambat. New Year is called Nawavarsha in Nepali Language and is observed as an official holiday. The day usually falls in the second week of April. During this occasion people go for picnics, have get-together and celebrate the day socializing in various ways. Musical programs are organized at different places to mark the happy beginning of the year.

11.  Gunla: Gunla is the name of the tenth month in the Nepal Sambat lunar calendar, which roughly corresponds to August of the Gregorian Calendar. Gunla is a holy month for Newar Buddhists when they recite the scriptures and visit places of worship playing devotional music.Gunla is one of the most important events in Newar Buddhism. Devotees mark the holy month by making daily early morning pilgrimages toSwayambhu in Kathmandu playing Gunla Bajan music. The musical bands represent various localities of the city.A major day for Gunla Bajan societies is the ceremony of Nisala Chhawanegu , when offerings are made to Swayambhu, and Gunla Bajan concerts are held at one’s neighborhoods.

12:  Buddha Jayanti: Large groups of people parade through the streets praising the Lord and his teachings. Special flags, usually red, blue; yellow and white can be seen flying high above all the Buddhist households. This day is celebrated to mark the birthday of the Lord Buddha which dates back in about 543 BC. It falls on Jestha Purnima (Full moon night-May/June).

13: Krishnashtami: This festival is also known as Krishna Jayanti or Janmashtami. Lord Krishna is regarded as the 8th avatar or ‘incarnation’ of Vishnu. Sri Krishna Janmastami marks the celebration of the birth of Lord Sri Krishna. It falls on Saptami of Bhadra (August/September).

14. Janai Purnima (Raksha Bandhan): On Janai Purnima, a full moon day, high-caste Hindus chant the powerful Gayatri mantra and change their Sacred Thread , while a raksya bandhan, a red or yellow protection cord, is tied around the wrists of other Hindus and Buddhists. Pilgrims journey to the mountains north of Kathmandu. Here they emulate Lord Shiva by bathing in the sacred lake of Gosainkunda. Those unable to make the trek celebrate at Shiva’s Kumbheswar Mahadev temple. Here, a pool with an image of Shiva at its center is filled with water believed to have come from Gosainkunda.

15.  Gai Jatra: The festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal. The festival of “Gai Jatra” (the procession of cows) which is one of the most popular festivals is generally celebrated in the Nepalese month of Bhadra (August-September).This festival has its roots in the belief that the god of death, Yamaraj, must be feared and hence worshipped.

16. Teej: ”Teej” is the fasting festival for women. Through this religious fasting, hindu women pray for marital bliss, wellbeing of their spouse and children and purification of their own body and soul.  Well known as “woman’s festival” Gaily dressed women can be seen dancing and singing on the street leading to Shiva temples. It takes place on Tritiya of Bhadra (August/September).

17. Dashian:

The most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. During the month of Kartik in the Bikram Sambat calendar (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, Dashain.

18. Tihar:

The festival of lights is one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals. During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. In this festival we worship Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. It heralds the month of Kartik (October/November) starting with Kukur Puja-Narak Chaturdashi.

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