This year, Holi, the ’festival of colours’, also known as ‘Fagu Poornima”, falls on March (12th March 2017). Holi, actually, begins a week ahead of the day, at least for many young guys who believe that the Holi season gives them licence to harass young girls by hurling water filled balloons (‘lolas’) at them. This is a unique but routine part of Holi in Nepal, particularly in Kathmandu. On a more religious note (all festivals here are heavily toned with religious myths, usually several different myths), Holi also has a couple behind it.
According to one, Holi is a festival to celebrate the death of a demoness called Holika who had been given the task of burning a lad called Prahalad , the son of a demon called Hiranyakashyapu who had won the blessings of the gods that he couldn’t be killed by anybody on earth, sky and water, and by any means whatsoever. Well, Holika was his sister who in turn had been blessed that she would be immune from fire, and because the demon king was mad at his son for worshipping Lord Vishnu (considering himself to be immortal and so above anybody, including the gods), he asks Holika to grasp him and step into an inferno where Prahalad would die a fiery death. Instead, as it turns out, Holika is immolated herself while the lad escapes unhurt. According to another myth, Holi is to celebrate Lord Ram’s homecoming to Ayodhaya after his tremendous victory over the 10-headed King Ravana of Ceylon (Sri Lanka now) who had abducted Ram’s wife, Queen Sita, and so set off the war.
Of course myths don’t matter much when it comes to celebrate, the celebration is more important. In Nepal, this celebration takes place on two days. In the Terai, it is celebrated on the day after it is celebrated elsewhere. In Kathmandu, the festival begins with the raising of the ceremonial pole (Chir pole) at Basantapur. It’s topped with colorful cloth strips and is going to stand there till the end of the festival. The cloth strips (chirs) represent the clothes of the Gopinis (Krishna-adoring women) whose clothes naughty Krishna (also called Gopi) hangs on a tree while they are taking their bath naked in a river. Krishna tells them they aren’t getting back their clothes till they have prayed to the Sun God standing submerged for some time.
Lighted oil wicks are kept on a cow dung base at the bottom of the pole by devotees who also tie ceremonial threads around the pole. Thus begins the celebrations during which people throw coloured powder at each other besides dousing anybody and everybody within range with coloured water. People go around in groups smearing coloured powder on each other. So far, so good. Unwanted incidents happen when some don’t want to be so coloured but someone else insists on doing so. This someone is likely to be high on “bhang” (an intoxicating drink of marijuana) or on “bhang ko laddu” (sweetmeat containing marijuana). Bhang can lead to as much revelry as to rowdiness.
The end of Holi is signaled by the lowering of the Chir pole. Once it is lowered, the cloth pieces becoming targets of the waiting crowd who rush forward to grab a piece which are considered to be amulets against evil spirits. The pole is dragged to the Tundikhel grounds where it is burned resulting in a huge bonfire into which women throw coconut shells. Glowing coals and ash are taken by devotees to purify their homes. Holi in the Terai is more or less the same as far as the revelry is concerned. One thing about Holi in the Terai however, is that people invite over friends to partake of special delicacies on the day. This is one of the most civil parts of the festival however, like elsewhere, a certain amount of rough fun can also be expected. Nevertheless, all said and done, Holi is definitely the most colourful festival amongst all festivals but one could say that there are as many who look forward to it as there are who cannot wait for it to be over!
Tours |May 22, 2023
In the 1970s, Birgunj, one of the bigger cities of the Terai, was the main entry point for numerous tourists to Nepal. They traveled through India, and having had their fill of the exoticness of that huge country and its large mass of humanity, made a beeline for the Shangri La of yore, that is, Nepal, to get a much needed breather.
Nepal |Jul 12, 2023
Sonam Losar is one of the central festivals among 125 ethnicities living in Nepal, of which some are of Indian origin, and some of Tibetan origin. Therefore, it is natural that many of the country’s festivals are similar to those of the neighboring regions.
Tibet |Jun 28, 2023
You can no doubt choose from a variety of Tibet tours, but given that there are so many famous ancient monasteries—each with its own uniqueness—all around the vast expanse of the region,
Nepal |Jun 20, 2014
Kumari- The Living Goddess of Nepal sat on her small silver throne, a look of curiosity on her pretty face. Her eyes sparkled, and it was obvious that she couldn’t keep still for long. She was dressed in bright red and orange finery. Her father invited me to sit down on the rug in front of the throne, while her grandmother smiled sweetly at me.
Community Homestays in Nepal |Mar 27, 2022
Sustainable Tourism is a term often bandied around these days. As the world’s number one industry, tourism is very profitable. But too often not much of the money spent by tourists is seen in the destinations where they go.
Others |Jun 14, 2023
I had seen this once before, at a Tea House after a never-ending set of stairs. Tonight it was our turn to try our hands at one of the Carrom board games. As a pair of revellers known to partake in pool at dingy bars, we were excited by what looked to be a finger-flicking variation of the common game.
Trekking |Jun 16, 2023
On the night of March 20, 2004, In the dead of night, about 6,000 Maoist guerillas descended on the district headquarters of Myagdi district in Dhaulagiri Zone from the surrounding hills. the quiet mountain town of Beni in mid-western Nepal, some distance away from one of the major cities of the country, Pokhara, was rocked by the sound of bombs and gunfire.
Tours |Jun 13, 2023
Thirty kilometers as the crow flies north from Kathmandu is a Tamang village called Gatling in Langtang, Reaching there begins with a day’s bus ride over a distance of 130 km from the capital to Syabrubesi from where you start trekking. The trail is narrow and climbs up quite steeply.
Nepal |Jan 14, 2013
Various ethnicities with different cultures inhabit the Terai (plains) of Nepal. While many festivals of Hindus are similar to other regions of the country, the Terai people do have some festivals that are unique which naturally means that there are a number of unique dances.
Spiritual |Apr 29, 2022
Nepal holds a unique place in the world of Buddhist culture and teaching. Lumbini, being the place of birth of Prince Siddhartha, who after leaving his palace and practicing for years. attained full awakening,
Others |Jun 22, 2023
Thamel is far from the only place in Kathmandu so make sure you get out and see other parts of the city. But if you’re set on spending an evening in the tourist hub then maybe this will help you be more decisive.