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Showing posts from May, 2012

Festivals of nepal

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Nepal is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. As a result the number of festivals exceeds that of the days of a year. For some foreigners, these festivals are mysterious, colorful and pleasant. Moreover, they have a great deal more about them. They emerge from the depth of the socio-cultural aspects of life. The festivals have mythological, religious and historical backgrounds. The ceremonies, as a whole, reflect a way of life, unique in its own place. They mirror the value system established by age long socio-cultural and religious conventions; they strengthen the social and family relations; they show the awe and reverence of the unknown people; they make it clear how Nepalese people pay homage to every element of nature; they mark the change of seasons and rejoice sowing seeds and harvesting.
The original annual dates for the festivals were fixed according to the lunar calendar long ago, so they do not coincide with the solar calendar currently used in Nepal. …

Sithi Naka or Kumar Sasthi

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(The Birthday of warrior- God Kumar)
This festival is celebrated in late May and early June to mark the birth day of Lord Shiva and Parvati’’s son Kumar, the great warrior god, who is believed to have ended the anxiety of 33 millions gods by defeating Danavas, the demons. The actual festival procession jatra is held on the day following his birth, the seventh day of the waxing moon. His idol is taken out from the temple of Jaisidewal in north- west of Kathmandu and is kept in an ornate, gift reefed palanquin. The procession bearing the palanquin moves around the city streets, where on lookers and the devotees offer worship. The festival comes to the conclusion when the idol is kept in the temple again.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Dumji

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This festival is celebrated  mostly in Sherpa communitiein in the month of Ashad (June-july). This merry festival is observed with great enthusiasm in Helambu and Khumbu region. In this festival, Lamas perform rituals. All the Sherpas, including Lama, dance with the mixed feelings of solemnity and mirth.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Bala Chaturdashi

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This festival falls on the fourteenth day of the dark lunar fortnight in a November or early December. It is observed to bring peace to the departed soul of the ancestors and to honor the memory who through no fault of his own because a fearful demon and was killed as a result.
Thousands of pilgrimage from the various parts of the country gather around the temple of Pashupatinath the day before the festival and perform penance and keep vigil throughout the night. In the morning they scatter a hundred varieties of seeds’’ in Kailash and Shleshmantak areas forest of Pashupati under the belief that if they sow seeds now their dead ancestors would reap the fruit.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Mani rimdu

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Mani rimdu, very important festival of the Sherpas, falls on the full moon day of Mangsir (November- December). Masked lamas of Khumbu region perform various religious rituals amidst dancing and singing.



Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Gunla (The sacred month of Buddha)

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Fifteen days before and fifteen days after full moon of late August or early September comprises the sacred month or Gunla. These thirty days are holy for Buddhist population. This is a very interesting festival of dificult fasting, solemn prayer, religious music and singing. Soyambhunath of Kathmandu is in the centre of all these activities.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Nava Barsa Bisket of Bhaktapur

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The official New Year, according to the solar calendar, is celebrated throughout the country. The day falls on mid April. New Year day is celebrated with merriment. People extend best wishes to each other and organize music and dance programs. Vikram Sambat is the New Year day, after the name of Vikramaditya, the emperor of India sub- continent, more than 2000 years ago. In Bhaktapur, a historical town 12 km. east of Kathmandu, the New Year day is celebrated in grand manner observing religious rituals. The festival is called Bisket and it has its origin in the ancient history, legends and mythology. Some linguists believe that the word Bisket originated from two Newari words ‘‘bi’’ for snake and ‘‘syako’’ for slaughter. People relate different stories about the festival; however, they are more or less similar. To sum up the differential stories, serpent demons and the marriage of an extraordinary princess believed to have taken place in the pre- historic time.
On the day before the New …

Baishak purnima

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(The full moon of Lord Buddha’’s Birth)
Purnima, the day of the full moon in late April and early May, is the greatest festival of the Buddhists and most of the Hindus, as the day is believed to have heralded the ‘‘triple Blessings-‘‘Buddha’’s birth, his enlightenment and his entering to Nirvana. The stupa of Swoyambhunath in Kathmandu, erected some 2000 years ago by a Buddhist monk, becomes the centre of ceremonial activities during the festival. Butter lamps and electric bulbs illuminate the whole area. Thousands of devout Buddhists from the different parts of the country come to the place to spend night fasting in Buddha’’s name and chanting prayers for the enlightenment. Solemn ceremonies procession of monks and other devotees take the idol is again returned to the place from where it was brought there. In addition solemn processions of the same kind can be seen throughout the country on the day.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Indra Jatra and kumari Jatra

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(Procession of king of the gods and Kumari)
This eight day festival formally begins on the twelfth day of the waxing moon in September. On the night this festival begins, members of the family in which death has taken place within one year go around the town limits of Kathmandu burning incense and putting lamps along the routes. In the morning of the first day of the festival, priest and the court astrologers direct people to erect a huge tall pole as the symbol of Indra’’s standard in front of the Hunaman Dhoka Palace and worshipping it. Soldiers in ancient get up and other soldiers are also present on the occasion. As the pole is tugged and pulled, many guns roar in solute music blares and the on looker’’s reaches fever pitch. Idols of Indra are brought from the temples and placed on high scaffolds. Similarly, large wooden marks of Vairava are displayed. Religious dances and like Devinach, Lajipat Lakhe, Vhairava and Bhakku and Mahakali Nach are performed according to the religious r…

Rato machhendranath

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(The chariot ride of Red Machhendranath)The festival starts on the last week of May or early June. It is celebrated to offer worships to Machhendranath, the mearciful patron god of the valley of Kathmandu and the god of harvests. This spectral festival reflects important aspects of socio-cultural life of the valley and it lasts for several days. Rath of tremendous size, about 48ft tall, is prepared at Pulchok and hauled through the city of Patan in several stages and it is finally taken to Jawalakhel in an auspicious moment carefully calculated by astrologers. The festival culminates when the sacred waistcoat (BHOTO) is displayed for the entire populace to behold. There are many myths related with the festival, however the most influential one suggests that the festival is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Lord Machhendra to protect the people of valley from a fearful draught. The deity is believed to have brought rain with the help of serpent deities. Source: Nepal Tourism Boar…

Gokarna aunsi (The Father’’s day)

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The last day of the dark fortnight in August of early September is the auspicious day for honoring fathers. Sons and daughters offer sweets and other delicacies to their father and son to receive blessings. Those whose fathers have died perform abstemious purification rites necessary to bring peace to departed soul. On this day people flock to a sacred shrine of Shiva at Gokarna. They take bath in a river nearby and perform religious rites to honor the memory of their father and to bring peace and tranquility to the departed soul. Those with living fathers also do not fail to go there. This festival reflects the strength of family bonds in Nepal.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Vivaha Panchami

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This festival falls on late November or early December. It is celebrated to commemorate the memory of the marriage of Sita and Ram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The purpose of the incarnation was to kill Ravana, the ten-headed demon and this marriage has special significance in the Hindu mythology as Ravana, according to Ramayana, was to kidnap Sita. Thousands and thousands of pilgrimage crowd Janakpur, where the temples of Ram and Sita are situated. On the first day of the weeklong festival, they dress the idol of Ram as a bridegroom and carry in a reenact tment of Hindu wedding ceremonies. Not only the Nepalese but also the pilgrims from India in large numbers take part in the procession.
                     Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Mata Tirtha puja

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(Looking upon Mother’’s face) Mata Tirtha begins on the last of the dark fortnight day of April or early May. On this occasion every Nepali looks upon his/her mother’’s face. As it is the day shows respect, affection and reverence to the mother formally, all of her sons and daughters come in front of the mother, offer her various delicious dishes and bow with deep respect and affection to receive her blessings. She blesses them touching their foreheads with her hand. Married sons and daughters living out, return once to their house, where they were born and the whole country rejoices in festive atmosphere; elegantly dressed men and women carrying baskets of delicious foods are seen everywhere.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Sri Panchami or Basanta Panchami

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Sri panchami represents the spring season in Nepal. It falls on the 5th day of the bright lunar fortnight. On this day Basanta Shrawan, a religious function, is held at the courtyard of Hanuman Dokha palace. Geet Govinda (verses written by poet Jaya dev) is recited by the priest.
It is also the festival celebrated to honor Sarswoti, the goddess of knowledge. Thousands of school and college students offer worships at the temple of Saraswoti. Books, pens, musical instruments, ink and spinning wheels are also worshipped on the occasion. Saraswoti temples of Swoyambhu and Gairidhara are the centre of such religious activities in Kathmandu.                                                  Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Janai Purnima Or Raksha Bandhan

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(The sacred thread festival)
Janai purnima, commencing on the full moon day of August, is the day when annual changing of the sacred thread, a yellow string worn about the neck and underarm beneath the clothing of higher cast Hindus- Brahaman, the learned priestly class Chetris, originally rural and warriors. The wearers observe certain religious rituals and undergo through fasting to make themselves clean and worthy enough to receive the sacred thread since to wear such a thread symbolizes that the person has control over body, comes chants mantras according Vedic traditions and gives the thread to the wearers. Those incapable of being clean according to the Brahaminic values and women are not allowed to wear it. On the same day men, women and children of every caste - Hindus and Buddhists alike - wear the sacred yellow thread called Raksha Bandhan - Raksha meaning protection and Bandhan meaning bond - about the wrist.
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Maghe Sankranti

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Capricorn celebrates this festival to mark the entrance of the sun into parts of the zodiac. As the course of the journey taken by the sun in this time is called heavenly, people take bath in river confluence. Grand feasts also are organized on the occasion.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board


Loshar

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Loshar, the tibetian New Year’’s Day falls on the first day of the bright lunar fortnight. On this day perform ancient forms of dances that have an unusual rhythm. The festival continues for weeks during which hearty feasts are arranged. Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Krishnashtami(Krishna’’s eight)

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The eighth day of the dark lunar fortnight in August or early September is the birth day of Lord Krishna, direct incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who together with Brahma and Shiva, complete the Hindu Trinity. The festival begins on the seventh day of the dark lunar fortnight as the Hindu devotees throughout the country being processions carrying ornately clothed idols of Krishna. They sing ancient hymns depicting miraculous birth, extra-ordinary childhood, divine love and various deeds of valor of Krishna. Priests read out the deeds of Krishna from the religious scriptures to the devotees gathered around them. Toward evenings’’ people start gathering around almost all the Krishna’’s Temple in  the country, to observe the festival. Singing melodious hymns they keep vigil through the glorious night of his birth. Krishna Mandir of Patan is the center of such religious devotees in the valley. Thousands and thousands of men, women and children keep vigil-singing songs of the evil and to protec…

Maghe Poornima

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The full moon of February concludes the month long fasting of Swosthani and the recital of Swosthani Mathatmya, a sacred religious text. Hindu women keep vigil throughout the night; in the morning they take bath in river confluence and worship the symbols of sacred phallus, Shiva Linga.                                          Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Tihar and Laxmi Puja (Festival of lights)

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Tihar is also known as the Dipwali and Yama Panchak, is celebrated for five days. Dip means light, so the festival is called festival of lights. All the houses and even the street corners are illuminated by butter lamps, Dio and electric bulbs. The five days are called Yama Panchaka because the whole period is dedicated to the worship of Yama the God of Death. The festival begins with Kagtihar Or Dhanteras (worship of crow) and concludes with Bhaaitika or Bhai Puja (worshipping brothers).


The first day of Tihar, also called Kaag tihar Or Dhanteras, is the day of the crow, as crow is believed to be the messengers of Yama. Every householder offers various dedicates to this bird and that day is known as very good day or lucky day to buy any metallic substances, instruments, vehicles  or ornaments. Dogs become center of attention on the second day of Tihar. Dogs are worshiped according to the religious ritual. Tika is a mark of blessing on dogs’’ foreheads of the creature along with garlan…

Chaite Dashain

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Dashain is observed on March- April too. However, this one is not as the one observed in September-October. This Dashain is named after the month in which it commences, Chaitra being the name of a month in the Nepali Calendar. The eighth of the bright half of the month is of special significance as people offer worships to goddess Durga, symbolic of power. On this day Hindus offer animal sacrifices to Goddess Durga at the temples dedicated to Goddess Durga and other Goddesses who are manifestations of Goddess Durga. Water buffaloes and goats are sacrificed at the temples’ altars. Major sacrifices take place near the Hanuman Dhoka palace at the guardhouse and also at Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Ghode Jatra (The procession of Horses)

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This festival is celebrated at the fourteenth day of the dark wax fortnight of March-April. A demon called Gurumapa is propitiated and the idols of many gods are carried a small chariot by processions of thousands of people. A meeting of duities such as Lumahri, Bhadrakali and Kankeshwari takes place during the day at Ason and at night in Tudikhel. The Nepal Army at Tudikhel organizes most spectacular show of horse race and acrobatics.
Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Teej Brata The fasting festival (women only)

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This three- day festival ends on the fifth day of the waxing moon. Heavy feasting of the first day is followed by a very strict fasting of 24 hours. The fasting, which is called Teej fasting, is performed for the well-being of one’s husband. Even the unmarried girls take part in the rites with great enthusiasm because of the belief that the great god Shiva blessed then enabling them to find a good husband. According to Hindu mythology goddess Parvati performed severe penance on the occasion and she got great Shiva as her husband. The festival ends with Teej Puja, in which they invoke the gods on behalf on the husband. Women take both in holy rivers in preparation for the Puja. Folks of women, dressed in the bright red saris and gold ornaments offer worship to Shiva Linga, sacred phallus. This includes the atonement of female sins. The rules for Puja is believed to be prescribed by the merciful goddess Parvati herself.
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Holi festival (The festival of colour)

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The eight day festival begins with the installation of chir (a tall bamboo pole tapped with their umbrella- like tires, each fingered with colourful strips of cloth) at the eighth days of the waxing moon in March and concludes the full moon day. People throw coloured powder and water at each other during the days. According to Hindu mythology, the festival is observed to celebrate the extermination of a demon called Holika who had tried to burn Pralhad, a devout devotee of Lord Vishnu.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Naga Panchami (The day of the Snake Gods)

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The day of the snake gods, the fifth of the brightening lunar fortnight late in July or early August is celebrated to offer worship and to show reverence to serpent gods believed to be dwelling down in Patal, the Nether world. This festival is observed because of the belief that the snake gods, when assuaged, bring sufficient rains, prevent water fountains from draught, cure disease and guard treasures. Special offerings of milk, ghee is made to please the snake deities near water sprouts, pools, springs and streams. Picture of snake deities are made and pasted on front doors on the occasion. According to Puranic scriptures, Brahma's son Kashyapa had four wives. The first wife gave birth to Devas; the second to Garudas; the third to Nāgas; and the fourth to Daityas. Nāgas were the rulers of Patal Lok.

The names of the Nine Great Nāgas are: Ananta, Vāsuki, Shesha, Padmanābha, Kambala, Shankhapāla, Dhārtarāshtra, Takshaka, and Kaliya:
According to the scriptures, Lord Krishna conquered …

Gai jatra (The procession of sacred cows)

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Gai Jatra, very much like a carnival, begins on the day after full moon day of August September. Pratap Malla, a king of Malla dynasty, is said to have started the conversion of celebrating the festival in the eighteen century to console his bereaved queen by showing her that every householder is compelled to depart with his/ her kinsfolk. Then eight-day festival begins when the householders whose family members have died within the year send a small procession consisting of people impersonating cows, a priest and a band of traditional musicians. Along the traditionally prescribed path march gorgeously costumed boys representing cows closely followed by the family priest and a band of musicians. The cow procession is sent thus to arrest the departed soul to get to the heavenly abode as it is believed that it has to cross a river called Vaitarani, the river of fire, blood and pun. One should, it is believed, cross the river with the help of cows. Almost all the householders on the way …

Bada Dashain (Durga Puja)

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Dashain, also called Vijaya Dashami and celebrated during the bright lunar fortnight, is the greatest and the grandest of all the festivals in Nepal. People of all casts and creeds celebrate it with equal enthusiasm. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the victory of goddess Durga over hideous demons, Ravana. Thus festival is symbol of the victory of good over evil. During the festival various forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped, animal sacrifices are made, blessing from the elderly kinsfolk sought and public parades, ancient processions and traditional pageants are held. The first day of the festival begins with Ghatasthapana, establishment of the holy pot and on the days that follow, various forms of Durga, Bhavani, symbolic of power, are worshipped. The concluding day is called Tika in which the elders of the family give Tika to their junior members and to other relatives who come to seek blessings. Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Ram Nawami

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This day falls on the 9th day of the bright lunar fortnight it March-April. Rama, the direct incarnation of Vishnu and the epic hero of Rayamana is worshipped on the occasion. Pilgrims from Nepal and India go to Janakpur to offer worship in the Ram-Janaki temple.


 Source: Nepal Tourism Board