5 festivals to attend in Nepal during the spring season
Being a multicultural nation, Nepal consists of more than 60 ethnic groups with their diverse customs and tradition. Since each of the groups has distinct cultural celebrations and festivals, Nepal is a place where colorful religion and tradition are connected.
The festivals distinctly have religious associations or are based on some ancient important events.
Despite having diverse beliefs and ethnic backgrounds, all Nepalese unite together in the celebration of the major festivals. Due to the variation of culture, every day in Nepal is a day of celebration for one or another community. Since one’s pride in one’s culture and has respect for others’, the numerous festivals harmoniously coexist in Nepal.
There is at least one festival of any community taking place on any day in Nepal.
The no-moon night of the month of Falgun is devoted to Lord Shiva and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world. Also known as Maha Shivaratri, Shivaratri is one of the most celebrated festivals in Nepal.
The name “Shivaratri” literally means “the Night of Shiva” where Shiva is the name of Hindu God and is believed to be one of the 3 principle deities of Hinduism.
The Maha Shivaratri is observed as the birthday of Lord Shiva with an incredible spectacle. The sight of devotees paying a praiseworthy tribute to Lord shiva by coating oneself in ashes is worth observing.
The best place to witness the wilderness of this festival is at the Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu.
Unlike other festivals, the Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. Many devotees spend the night around the temple, lighting a holy fire and singing tributes to Lord Shiva.
People sing the tales of Lord Shiva to grave this celebration of overcoming darkness and ignorance.
Besides these traditional beliefs, there stands a scientific fact that on the night of Maha Shivaratri the stars in the Northern Hemisphere are in its finest position that acts positively to raise a person’s spiritual energy.
On top of it, there is a belief among Hindus that Lord shiva is the most active on the night of Shivaratri.
Holi is known to the world as a Festival of Colors. Taking place on the full moon day in the month of Falgun, the festival lasts for two days and is a celebration for the victory of good over evil. Moreover, the festival symbolizes the welcoming to Spring and Summer.
The background of this colorful story traces it’s way back to the period of “Mahabharat”, one of the Sanskrit epics of India. According to ancient Hindu mythology, There was a King named Hiranyakashyapu who as so arrogant that he didn’t believe in god. However, his son Prince Prahlad was a keen devotee of lord Vishnu which arose an enmity between the father and son.
The son being openly opposed to Father’s order enraged Hiranyakashyapu, and he ordered his sister Holika to burn Prahlad on the full moon night of Falgun.
Under the blessing of Lord Vishnu, Prahlad was unaffected while Holika burned into ashes. As the prince walked out of the fire, people expressed the victory of good over evil by sprinkling colors and water on him.
The actual Holi celebration in Nepal starts about a week before the main day.
There is a tradition of erecting a lingo (bamboo stick) covered with different pieces of clothes and on the eve of the Holi, the lingo is taken down and burnt. This event is called Holika Dahan and is a symbol of how Holika died and it is believed that all the evil inside of us gets burn on that fire.
A new year and Bisket Jatra
The new year marks the opening of the year and is the first festival in any year.
This promising day is often celebrated with family gatherings, parties and a lot of activities that resemble fun family moments. Since there are more than 60 ethnic groups in Nepal, every group has a different culture, tradition, and custom that reflects on how they celebrate the beginning of the New year.
The new year in Nepal is known as Naya Barsha and is the first day of the first Month Baishak according to the Nepali Calendar. This very first day of the Nepali calendar usually falls in the second week of April.
The Naya Barsha is celebrated among the Nepalese with full of happiness and enjoyment.
Celebrating New year’s day is a matter of pleasure as it involves welcoming a prosperous year ahead and bidding goodbye to the old one. We Nepalese express our wishes that the New year will be filled with health and happiness to our dear ones and feast over this happiness.
The Bisket Jatra signals the start of a Nepali New year. The festival of Bisket Jatra involves two golden chariots symbolizing God Bhairava and Goddess Bhadrakali are hauled around the town by dozen people.
There is a tradition of playing tug-of-war between the people of the east and west side of Bhaktapur and as one side wins, the New year officially begins.
Buddha Jayanti is a festival celebrated for rejoicing the birthday of Lord Gautam Buddha on the full moon day of Baishak. The festival of Buddha Gautam is of a special significance to the Nepalese as Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha.
Formerly known as Siddhartha Gautam was born as a prince to King Suddhodana of the Shakya dynasty of Tilaurakot and Queen Maya Devi. It is believed that the queen gave birth to Buddha in the Lumbini garden in the Rupandehi district. It is also believed that Maya Devi died seven days after giving birth to Siddhartha and an idol of her is erected at the Lumbini site for her remembrance.
Lumbini, Tilaurakot, Devdaha and other sacred places and monasteries in Kathamandu are crowded with devotees on the day of Buddha Jayanti. The devotees are seen wearing white dree and offering vegetarian food, flowers, fruits, and candles.
The devotees set the animals free which symbolizing that Buddhism care for all creatures. The scarifying of the animals is not permissible during this day.
Donations to persons and organizations in many forms like cash, meals or any other items are made with the main aim of helping them.
The Bodhi tree is of huge reputation in Buddhism. Devotees respect the tree and embellish the branches with garlands and colorful ribbons. They perform prayers, meditations by the monks and the nonstop performance of the holy book.
On this special day, the devotees decided to follow the five fundamental precepts (Panchasila) of Buddhist ethics which comprises the basic teachings of conduct.
Ram Navami is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ram, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu is known for his kindness, love, bravery, and peacefulness. As one of the known festivals of the Hindus, Ram Navami falls on the Navami of Shukla Paksha of the Chaitra Month.
Though the festival is specifically significant to the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism, Rama is worshipped all across the world by a lot of devotees on this day.
While many Vaishnava Hindus visit temples, others worship at home where miniature idols of infant Rama are bathed and clothed, before being placed in a cradle. The ceremony is accompanied by Rama Katha recitals (stories of Rama), or bhajan or kirtan (a religious song).
The backstory of why Ram Navami has celebrated dates back to the period of “Ramayana”. It is believed that the Universe was under the control of an evil spirit, King Ravan. Ravan had pleased Lord Brahma who bestowed Ravan with a boon that no God or demon could ever kill him. To kill this evil ruler, Lord Vishnu took an incarnation as prince Ram in the town of Ayodhya.
Lord Ram was born to King Dasarath of Ayodhya and the saga of Ramayana suggests that Ram was exiled for 14 years. At that stage, his wife Sita was abducted by Ravan. With the help of Hanuman; the monkey god, Ram, and Laksham killed the evil Raman.
It is for that reason, Ram Navami is celebrated as Lord Ram’s Birthday.
The celebration is marked with a pleasant ceremony at Janaki Mandir in Janapkur, the maternal home of Sita.
In Kathmandu hundreds of humans, including the royal circle of relatives, visit the temples to give respect to Ram, as symposiums are detained to praise the right existence he used to live.
In Bhaktapur, the neighboring city of Kathmandu, the humans go to the banks of the waterway Hanumante; there is a temple containing the statue of Ram with his devoted servant Hanuman is located. As a consequence, Ram Navami is widely known at some point in the kingdom with incredible fanfare.
Nepal is immersed in myths and legends. More than hundreds of festivals are celebrated every year. Every little festival has an enormous back story that supports its presence. You could try exploring these interesting festivals on your visit to Nepal, during the spring season.