This is list of the Major Festivals of Nepal.
Apart from being a home to the Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world, and great landscapes like Annapurna Base Camp, Terai plains, to scared land of Kumari, the only living Goddess in the world, Nepal is also famously popular for festivals.
You will undoubtedly experience at least one of Nepal’s amusing festivals, regardless of when you visit the country. The chariot procession, a tug-of-war to pull a chariot, Dhimay music, festival of color, lights and many more.
These are the list of the major/upcoming festivals in 2023/2024.
Bisket Jatra is celebrated on Nepali New Year’s day in Bhaktapur. Mythology tells that the Jatra is the celebration of the death of the serpent. On this day, hundreds of people participate in a tug-of-war to pull a chariot bearing Lord Bhairava’s statue towards higher (Thaney) and lower (Koney) Tole. The chariot is drawn from both sides, and whoever wins that section of town gets to ride in the chariot while the other sides wait for their turn.
On the eve of the Nepali new year, the chariot is finally hauled down to Gahiti, where it is held for two days before being pushed down to Lyasinkhel.
Biska Jatra is also celebrated in Madhyapur Thimi (Thimi, Nagadesh, and Bode). In Layeku Thimi, people from all across Madhyapur Thimi gather, each with their own chariot. People play Dhimay Music and toss simrik colors (Sindhur Jatra) into the air. A tongue-piercing ritual is held at Bode. One local spends the entire day with an iron spike piercing his tongue and roams the streets with many blazing torches slung over his shoulder.
Ratomachindrantah Jatra is one of the longest-running chariot festivals celebrated in Nepal. It is a chariot procession conducted in Lalitpur, to honor the Vajrayana Buddhist God of compassion, ‘Avalokitesvara’ and as an avatar of Shiva for Hindus.
The name Rato Machhendranath refers to the color of the deity’s depiction and translates to “Red Machhendranath.” It begins on the first full moon of Baisakh (April/May) every year. The chariot festival follows the lunar calendar, hence the date is subject to change. It starts on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bachhal, Nepal’s seventh month, according to the lunar Nepal Sambat calendar.
The festival’s preparations begin with the creation of a 60-foot tall chariot at Pulchowk, Lalitpur. The image of Bunga Dyah from his temple is set in the chariot once it is finished. Revelers then take the chariot on a month-long tour through the streets of Lalitpur. Bunga Dyaariot is joined on the journey by Chakuwa Dyah’s chariot, which is similar but smaller. The chariot parade begins in Pulchok and concludes in Jawalakhel, passing via Gabahal, Mangal Bazaar, Hakha, Sundhara, Chakrabahil, and Lagankhel.
The procession concludes in Jawalakhel’s open area, which is located on Lalitpur’s western outskirts. The festivities come to a close with the Bhoto Jatra ritual.
Bhoto Jatra, Ratomacchindranath Jatra Photo Courtesy- My Republica
Bhoto Jatra literally means Vest festival which marks the end of the month-long Chariot procession of Bunha Dyah/ Rato Macchindranath Jatra.
There are various myths regarding the origin of Bhoto Jatra. One is the story of the farmer and the Lakhey. This tale tells that the wife of Karakat Nagraj (the Serpent King) had an eye disease that no amount of treatment could heal. A farmer claimed that he could cure her disease, and the Nagraj agreed to let him try. The farmer proceeded to wipe his body with his hands, collecting dirt, and then putting it in the Nagraj’s wife’s eyes. Soon after his wife was quickly healed. The Nagraj then generously gave him a bejeweled Bhoto (vest) as compensation.
The farmer wore the Bhoto every day since it was speckled with diamonds and was quite valuable. One day the farmer opened his Bhoto and left it aside while working in the field. A passing Lakhey then stole it and ran away. The farmer chased him but could not catch him.
Later on the occasion of Rato Macchindranath, the farmer saw the Lakhe wearing his Bhoto and asked him to give it back. But the Lakhey denied it and they fought. No one won the fight and the case was taken to the King’s court. Because the King was unsatisfied with the evidence from both sides, it was agreed that the Bhoto would be kept with Lord Machhendranath for safekeeping until the real owner could present proof of ownership.
Every year since then, the Bhoto has been displayed to the general public, assuring them that it has been maintained securely.
Buddha Jayanti is the Buddha’s birthday. It is one of the most important Buddhist festivals. Gautam Buddha was said to have lived around c. 563–483 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal. This is an important day for Buddhists because the three main events of Buddha’s life took place, his birth, his attaining enlightenment, and his death, Paranirvana. People visit Soyambhunath, Boddudhanatha, and other vihars to celebrate this day.
Mustang Tiji Festival
Mustang Tiji festival is three day long festival that is celebrated in the upper mustang region of Nepal. ‘Tiji’ is ‘ten che’, which means ‘the hope of Buddha Dharma prevailing in all worlds’ also called ‘The chasing of the Demons’. It is celebration of the victory of a deity named Dorje Sonam over his demon father to save the Kingdom of Lo from destruction. What happened was this: the father, who had a nasty streak, once wreaked havoc by creating an acute shortage of water in the area. Since Mustang is an arid region, it is understandable that such an act was a most devilish one. It was up to the son, Dorje Sonam, to overcome his father’s actions by going into battle against him. He manages to be one up on his father, and after defeating him, banishes the evil man from the land.
The Tiji festival is a celebration of this legend, and the story is re-enacted during all three days of the festival. Monks of the Chhoede Gompa perform various dances during the festival, enacting the evil deeds of the father; the birth of his son, Dorje Sonam; and the son’s efforts to defeat his demon father. On day one, a dance called “Tsa Chham” is performed, followed by another called “Nga Chham” on the second day, and “Rha Chham on the third.
A Festival for Rice planting – is the day of a climax of rice planting. Ropain Festival, also known as Asar 15, is celebrated mostly by farmers from all regions of Nepal – to mark the day of planting new seedlings of rice crop of the year.
It is said that Kathmandu valley once used to be a big lake. Naag (snakes) became extremely angry against humans when we drained the lake to make it habitable. To protect themselves against the anger of the Nagas, the people of Kathmandu gave them certain areas as pilgrimage destinations and promised to worship them on this day, returning a harmony in nature. This has been continued till now, and on 7th August 2016, we will celebrate this festival with gust
Janai Purnima is Sacred Thread Festival. On this day, Hindu men, especially the Brahmins and Chettris perform their annual change of Janai and all who celebrates this festival put a sacred thread around their wrist. Gosaikunda, the sacred pond in high altitude, witnesses the great celebration on this day.
The festival’s name is Gai Jatra (literally meaning the festival of cows) and nowadays it is a fusion of three traditions that came into being in three different periods of time. The first and the oldest tradition incorporates a cult and a worship of the ancient god of death – Yamaraj. Thus, the festival marks the acceptance and celebration of death in a positive way, as an inevitable part of life. Every family who has lost a member, in the previous year, is supposed to lead a carefully and intricately decorated cow through the city. In the absence of a cow, a boy dressed as a cow (the oldest for a male member lost and the younger for a female) can successfully take on the role.
This day celebrates the birth of the Hindu Lord, Krishna. the most colorful lord according to Vedas. On this day, the Krishna Temple of Patan, built in 1637 A.D, becomes as colorful and beautiful as one of his Hindu brides.
Teej is a festival celebrated by Nepali women, for the long life of her husband and a long and firm relationship between them until the death this life and all the lives to come. Teej is observed for marital happiness, the well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul. Teej is the most famous festival among Nepali women.
Rishi Panchami is a festival that is celebrated immediately after Teej Puja. Hindu women attach undue importance to this festival of Rishi Panchami because they believe that by observing Rishi
Panchmi fast and by paying homage to Rishis (Saints) on this day of the festival, they will be blessed and forgiven for all their sins that they are bound to commit during their menstrual cycle by not following the strictures laid down for them by their religion.
Indra is the lord of rain and the god of heaven. The festival honors Bhairab, a manifestation of Shiva, who is believed to destroy evil. Indra Jatra is celebrated by masked dances of deities and demons, and of displays of sacred images and tableaus in honor of the deity Indra, the king of heaven. During the Indra Jatra festival, there is the Kumari Jatra, the chariot procession of the living goddess, Kumari.
Dashain and Tihar are the, two most important national Hindu festivals when the majority of the population of Nepal celebrate with the great enthusiasm. Both festivals have a history of the victory over darkness. Dashain and Tihar are about worshipping goddesses. At Dashain, Durga (the national goddess of the army) and her various forms are worshiped to protect us from evil spirits. Tihar is about worshipping Laxmi, goddess of wealth, in order to bless us.
This is dedicated to Chhatti Mai (Goddess of Power) and is a festival held in high esteem by the people in the Terai mostly. The festival is exclusively observed by women who worship the rising sun while immersed in knee deep water of sacred rivers or ponds.
Sita Bibaha Panchami is the auspicious day when princess of Janakpurdham Sita married the prince of Ayodhya Ram Chandra.
Sita was the daughter of king Janak of Janakpur. She is also known as a daughter of earth. Ram was a son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya. Sita and Ram married on Marga Sukla Panchami. Therefore, Marga Sukla Panchami is called Bibaha Panchami. The marriage anniversary of Lord Ram Chandra and Sita is celebrated at Janaki Mandir in Janakpurdham. The temple is filled with thousands of people from all across Nepal and India.
Yomari Punhi, meaning the full moon of Yomari, is one of the most popular Newar festivals and is observed every year during the full moon of December. Yomari is a confection of rice flour (from the new harvest) dough shaped like fish and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi.
Udhauli Festival- Sakela Dance, Photo Source: DCNEPAL
Udhauli is the annual festival celebrated by Kirat community of eastern Nepal marking the migration of animals and birds downwards to low altitude towards warmer regions as the winter hits their homeland.
Every year on the Marga Sukla Purnima, there falls Udhauli Parva or Festival of Kirats and Yomari Punhi of Newars. Along with these two, the jyapus in the country has also declare the day as the “Jyapu Day“.
Udhauli festival is celebrated by all Kirati people, the first clan to rule the entire Nepal. It is believed that from this day the winter season starts. So, people, birds, and animal migrate from cold regions to warmer regions. This kind of migration occurs twice in a year. The celebration of migrating downwards during this season is called “Udhauli ” and the celebration of migrating upwards during the season of Baisakh (April or May) is called Ubhauli.
Lhosar is mainly celebrated by Tamu (Gurung), Tamang and Sherpa communities as well as Tibetans. Lhosar is the first day of a new year, and each community celebrates it in their own style. known as Tola Lhosar to Tamus, Tamangs and Sherpas celebrate Sonam Lhosar and Gyalpo Lhosar respectively.
Holi is the festival of colors that signifies the arrival of spring. It is a day of fun and festivity. People of all ages smear each other with colored powder, throw water, and celebrate by dancing and singing. Religiously, Holi signifies the triumph of good over evil.
Seto Macchindranath is another major festivals in Nepal that is celebrated in the month of Chaitra (March). This chariot procession festival is three days long and is pulled from different places of Kathmandu. A group of soldiers discharges their rifles into the air every day when the chariot arrives at its destination. In Jana Bahal, there is a temple dedicated to Seto Machindranath (also known as Machhindra Bahal). The temple, which is located between Ason and Indra Chok in central Kathmandu, is thought to have been built about the 10th century.
Every year, during the Jana Baha Dyah Jatra celebration, the deity’s picture is placed in a chariot and carried around Kathmandu. Every year, the deity is bathed and repainted in a ritual that represents the changes that occur in one’s life.
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