Festivals of Nepal
Bada Dashain is the longest Hindu festival of Nepal. It marks the victory of the goddess Durga over the Demon Mahisasur. It signifies the victory of Good over Evil. It is celebrated for fortnight with prayers and offering to Durga who is also considered as the Universal Mother Goddess. The first nine days of this festival are called Navaratri. The Goddess Durga is worshipped on these days. People also visits the temple of the gods and goddess. The animals and birds are sacrificed in front of the image of the Goddess Nawadurga. The Gharasthapana, Phool Pati, Mahaastami, Nawami and vijaya Dashami are the series of the events under Dashain each marked with a different set of rituals.
Vijaya Dashami is the main day of this festival and in this particular day men and women in their fineries visits their parents and elders to receive TIKA (a dab of red vermillion mixed with yogurt and rice). They are also given blessing during the time of TIKA and this is practice for another 4 days. The last day of Bada Dashain is called Kojagrat Purnima, which is the full moon. Swing (Ping) is usually played during this festivals.
Fagu Purnima or Holi is a another festival celebrated by Hindu. It is celebrated on a full-moon day at the end of the month of Falgun from mid February to Mid may. According to Mythology, this festival is celebrated on the death of Demoness Holika. This evil woman (Holika) was supposed to be indestructible by fire. She has done serveral attempt to kill her Nephew (Prahland) who was a devout follower of Lord Vishnu. Finally, she put the boy on her Lap and set fire beneath them, thinking that she would escape and boy would die. But instead the boy was unharmed and Holika was killed.
The Chir pole is raised on the first day of Holi in Kathmandu in front of Kumari House in Basantapur. On the last day of Holi, the Chir pole is brought down, dragged to Tudikhel and burnt to cinders. The devotees carry ashes as it is believed that it will provide them protection against evil. In the Terai region, Holi is celebrated a day later than in Kathmandu.
Maha Shivaratri or the “the night of Shiva” is celebrated on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the Mangha month. It is celebrated with great devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva. As per the Hindu mythology, it is believed that in this day, the stars in the northern Hemisphere are at most optimum positions to help raise a person’s spiritual energy. It is believed that the Shiva principle is most active on this day of the year.
During the time of Shivaratri, hundreds of thousands of devotees visits pasupatinath which is also holiest shrines of the Hindus. Colorful and naked Sadhus are found in Pauspatinath who are most of the time meditating, posing for photograph and speaking with disciples. This activities are observed by tourists with the great curiosity.
The word Gai means cow in English. Cow is regarded as the holy animal of Nepal. Gai Jatra is the carnival of dancing, singing, mirth and laughter. It is celebrated to remove the sadness of death of their family members. It is especially celebrated in Kathmandu valley to commemorate the death of the loved one. As per the historical evidence, when king Pratap Malla lost his son, his wife, the queen, remained grief-stricken. The king was very sad to see the condition of his beloved queen.
The king, in spite of several efforts, could not lessen the grief of his wife. He desperately wanted to see a little smile on the lips of sweetheart and so he announced that anyone who made the queen laugh would be rewarded adequately. so the cow procession was brought before the grief-stricken queen and queen smiled. In this way Gai Jatra was started to celebrated.
The Indra jatra festival is widely celebrated by Newar communites of Nepal. It falls in September and is one of the most exciting and revered festival among the Newari community. During this festival, the wooden pole made of pine is erected in Basantapur Darbur square. Hundreds of spectators gather at the palace square to see the pole raising ceremony.
The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out in a procession throught the main streets of Kathmandu. Every evening masked dancer known as “Lakhay” dance is practiced which is accompained by loud drums. The Indra Jatra fetivals commemorates the time when Indra cam from heaven in human form to look for an herb.