Festivals in Nepal begin with religion, ending as social event. There are more
than 50 major festivals in a year celebrated by Nepalis. Although most of these
festivals are religious some have historical significance, while others are
The dates of most festivals are fixed by famous astrologers after consulting the
lunar calendar. The biggest and most popular festivals are: Dashain, a
celebration of Goddess Bhagabati's victory over evil Mahisashur; and Tihar, a
celebration of lights dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.
It is not hard to catch colorful processions in different streets of the Valley
almost every other day of the week. Cultural acts of dances and songs are
integral parts of some celebrations while some celebrations are just quiet
family gatherings. Grand celebrations like Ghode Jatra and Gai Jatra entertain
participants and spectators every year.
Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The anniversary of the Buddha's birth,
enlightenment and death is observed on a full-moon day in May every year.
People celebrate the occasion by paying homage to Buddha. Lumbini and
Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath in Kathmandu are thronged with devotees during
This is the triply auspicious anniversary of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and
death (due to discrepancies between solar and lunar calendars. Tibetans
celebrate approximately one month later). Prayer flags are replaced, stupas
newly whitewashed and every temple thoroughly cleaned. Buddhists gather for
morning puja at Swayanbhunath then move to Boudhanath in the afternoon to see a
Buddha image paraded on an elephant.
A holy month for Newar Buddhists who celebrate special pujas at Swayambhunath
every morning. For one day the Buddhist bahal & Vihar in Kathmandu and
Patan display their art treasures and on the same day local people as well as
Buddhists come to visit the arts & hold a huge procession holding incense
and lights in and around the holy Buddhists places.
On this full moon festival high caste Hindu men change their sacred thread.
Everyone else receives a protective sacred yellow thread, tie around the wrist,
from Brahmans. Festivities center on Patan's Kumbeshwar Mahadev temple where
thousands gather to worship the sacred linga.
The "Cow Festival" is the Nepalese equivalent of Halloween when recently
bereaved families honor the soul of their dead by sending a cow out on parade -
either real, an effigy or a costumed small boy. Groups of these cows parade the
streets accompanied by costumed men and liberal quantities of home brewed
Celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, god of love. Processions display pictures
narrating the events of his life and at night women gather at Patan's Krishna
Mandir to chant prayers, sing hymns and light lamps.
Teej / Rishi Panchami
Exclusively women's celebrations known for fasting and purification. Teej begins
with a late night communal feast as the women of a household prepare for the
following day's strict fast. The fast symbolizes the 3,600 years of austerities
performed by the goddess Parvati in order to attract her husband, Shiva. The
day begins with women gathering at Pashupatinath for a ritual bath in the
Bagmati River then, adorned in their finest wedding sari and jewelry, they
dance in praise of Shiva. Two days later they gather again, at the Shiva temple
at Teku, for another ritual bath to purify them from the sin of accidentally
touching a man while menstruating.
The quintessential Nepali festival, Indra Janta marks the end of the monsoon and
the beginning of harvest. In Kathmandu there are nightly masked dances and
costumed dramas and ancient images of the god Bhairab are displayed. Within
this festival is the festival of Kumai Jatra when thousands gather to see the
arrival of the king and the appearance of the goddess Kumari who is pulled
about the city in her gilded chariot on three consecutive nights. At the end
she reaffirms the king's right to rule for another year.
Maha Shiva Ratri
Shiva Ratri which literally means the Night of Lord Shiva, is celebrated by all
Hindus in the month of February. Religious fairs are organized at several
places. Thousands of devotees throng Pashupatinath Temple for a 'darshan' of
Lord Shiva on this day.
Bisket Jatra (Nepalese New Year)
Celebrated in the second week of April most jubilantly in Bhaktapur where it
coincides with a 10-day local festival. Images of Bhairab and Bhadrakali are
pulled though the city streets in their chariot and a 25-meter victory pole is
hoisted then sent crashing own to dispel evil spirits.
Dashain is the most important festival among Nepalis. The entire population of
Nepal celebrates the festival that falls between mid September to mid October.
Nepalis celebrate Dashai by buying new clothes, eating good food and visiting
family members. Card games are very popular during this time. Various fairs and
celebration events are organized during the Dashain fortnight in both villages
Tihar is the festival of lights. This five-day celebration of Tihar falls in
October or November and is celebrated with equal joy by all Nepalis. Houses are
illuminated at night and special sweets of different varieties are prepared.
Tihar, like Dashain, is a series of family events. Goddess Lakshmi is
remembered and offered worship on Lakshmi Puja Day.
Dumji is one of the sared ceremonies of the Sherpa community. It is celebrated
in the month of July. Dumji is celebrated by the Sherpas in Namche region. The
Sherpas of Kathmandu and Helambu regions also participate in dancing on this
Lhosar which falls on a new-moon day in February is celebrated by
Tibetan-speaking population. Songs and dances are organized in Kumbu region of
Nepal. On this day devotees throng Bouddhanath in Kathmandu for celebration and
The festival of colors.Riotous throwing of water and colored powder welcomes
Jan - Feb
Sweta Machendranath Snan
Feb - Mar
Mar - April
April - May
Nepali New Year
Rato Machendranath Jatra
May - June
July - Aug
Aug - Sept
Sept - Oct
Oct - Nov
Nov - Dec