Nepal is not only about majestic mountains, winding roads, and lush meadows; it also has some bright and enjoyable festivals. Nepal is populated by individuals from many areas of India, which adds to the diversity of the country’s festivals. If you go to learn about a country’s past and culture, you must visit Nepal during one of these great festivals.
Nepalese people are very protective of their culture and customs. Traditional religious rituals coexist with the emerging contemporary tendencies in this region. If you are the kind of wanderer who enjoys getting to know a location intimately, festivals are your best bet. The following is a list of prominent festivals during which you may combine your Nepal vacations with festivals and return with a very fulfilling experience.
The following is a list of Nepal’s important festivals.
1. Mahashivaratri – Behold the splendour of the festival.
Thousands of monks congregate to Nepal’s several Shiv temples, most notably Pashupatinath, one of the most revered Nepal temples, to commemorate Mahashivaratri. The temples are illuminated, and worshippers fast during the day and adore Shiv Linga at night. Shiva Lingas are cleansed with holy water as well as panchamrit and then presented with flowers, mango leaves, and peepal leaves, amongst other offerings.
The evening rituals and aartis are not to be missed, which are visually captivating. A large bazaar is held outside Pashupatinath temple, and hundreds of people go there to see sadhus dance, sing, and do snake dances, as well as to purchase traditional and puja items. Mahashivaratri is one of Nepal’s most holy celebrations.
- Attractions: Bagmati River’s holy bath
- Date: March 1, 2022
2. Fagun Purnima or Holi – Colors are sprayed around the valley
Holi, Hori, or Faguwa is one of Nepal’s most lively holidays. Each year, the Nepali community celebrates this festival of colours. This festival lasts two days in Nepal: the first day is Fagu Purnima, while the second day is Holi in the Terai area. Locals also placed a ‘Chir,’ a bamboo pole draped with strips of colourful cloth symbolising good fortune and wealth, to signal the start of the Holi celebration. Additionally, on Fagu Purnima, people gather firewood and ignite bonfires to commemorate Holika’s demise as the demon who attempted to slay Vishnu. Nepalese, like Indians, celebrate Holi using dry colours, water sprays, water cannons, and balloons.
- Attractions: Holika Dahan and the eating of bhang in lassi.
- Date: March 17th – 18th, 2022
3. Bisket Jatra- Bhaktapur’s magnificent chariot celebration
This is another major event in Nepal. It is known as the Nepali New Year. This great rally is held in Bhaktapur at the start of Nepali Bisket month. This festival commemorates the annihilation of serpents and is hence also known as Bisyau Jatra, or serpent slaughter. On the day of Bisket Jatra, a massive tug-of-war is staged in Durbar Square between the eastern and western halves of the nation. A massive pole resembling a sacred lingam is erected by the river and brought down by the throng to formally begin the new year.
Bisket Jatra is also held in Bhaktapur’s Thimi and Balakhu districts. Locals participate in the rally by singing, dancing, playing dhimay music, and throwing colours at one another. The piercing of the tongue is a fairly prevalent rite during Bisket Jatra.
- Attractions: Lord Bhairav and Goddess Bhadrakali’s magnificent chariot procession.
- Date: April 14th, 2022
4. Buddha Jayanti—Explore the country’s illustrious traditions
Buddha Jayanti is Nepal’s national festival celebrated with much pomp and circumstance. On this day, Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini, and as a result, Buddhists from all over the globe go to Nepal for this ritual. Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Lumbini, and Monkey Temple all have prayer flags and butter lamps decorating them. Monks congregate to worship and recite Buddhist chants. Individuals consume a vegetarian diet, refrain from alcohol, and practise dan-dharma. Women from the surrounding area attend viharas and follow Buddhist scriptures. During Buddha Jayanti, every home prepares kheer or sweet porridge.
- Attractions: The sacred Thangka is placed on the southern wall of Swayambhunath’s patio.
- Date: May 16, 2022
5. Gai Jatra — An out-of-the-ordinary celebration
Among Nepal’s most highly celebrated holidays, Gai Jatra, or the festival of cows, is held to remember persons who have died over the year. The indigenous people think that cows may assist the departed in their journey to Yama, the God of death. This is one of Nepal’s most unusual events, with decked cows being paraded through the streets and alleyways. Families of the dead march alongside the funeral, handing out food packs and fruits to those in need. To alleviate the pain and anguish of departed spirits, local residents participate in rallies; males masquerade as women and enjoy singing, ridicule, and the traditional Ghinta Ghisi dance. During Gai Jatra, mask dancing is also performed.
- Attractions: Little children are dressed as cows and Gods who march in the parade.
- Date: August 13th, 2022
6. Indra Jatra— Prayer for a bountiful crop
Following Gai Jatra, several groups in Nepal celebrate Indra Jatra, one of the most famous and enjoyable Nepal festivities in 2022. Also known as the Yenya festival, the Indra Jatra is mainly a time to pray for a bumper crop in the future years. Every Nepali home has statues and sculptures of Akash Bhairab, and family members partake in raksi, Nepal’s traditional liquor. Indra Jatra is famous for its masked demon and devil dances, as well as the presentation of pictures of gods and also goddesses. Sawa Bhakku, Majipa Lakhey, as well as Devi Pykhan are three distinct styles of masked demon dance performed at Indra Jatra. Nevertheless, Indra Jatra is observed by Kumari Jatra, during which unmarried little girls, regarded as living deities, are driven through the streets in chariots.
- Attractions: A flagpole ceremony, an exhibition of Bhairava’s mask, and a performance of the Pulu Kisi or elephant mask dance.
- Date: September 9th, 2022
7. Teej— Nepal’s women-only festival
In Nepal, both married and unmarried women worship Lord Shiva and celebrate Teej, which lasts three days during the lunar month of Bhadra. Women eat ‘dar’ khana, or substantial cuisine, on the first day before beginning their day-long fast. On the second day, married ladies fast for their husbands’ health and prosperity, while unmarried girls pray for suitable spouses. On the third day, devotees worship Goddess Parvati and break their fast by eating chokho and karkalo ki tarkari, both of which are prepared entirely of pure ghee. Teej, one of Nepal’s most significant holidays, is celebrated for three days with devotional songs, dancing, and the consumption of numerous traditional delicacies produced at home. Teej is one of the most major and extensively recognised holidays in Nepal, held in both the mountainous and valley regions.
- Attractions: Women dressed in red saris and singing songs about femininity.
- Date: August 30th, 2022
8. Lhosar— Nepal’s most colourful festival
Lhosar, the Tibetan new year, is a compound term composed of two words: lho, which means year, and sar, which signifies new. The Tibetan New Year, or Lhosar, is one of Nepal’s most prominent celebrations, celebrated on various days by various groups. Tamu Lhosar is a Gurung festival, while Sonam Lhosar is a Tamang and Yolmo festival. The Tibetan and Sherpa populations observe the third form, Gyalbo Lhosar. The beginning of the new year is celebrated with dancing, music, family reunions, and the exchange of greetings and presents. During this holiday, families pray together and prepare special meals for the gods and goddesses. Consumption of changkol, a native Tibetan beverage comparable to beer derived from chhaang, is a well-known habit during Lhosar.
- Attractions: Mask dancing and the adornment of temples and pagodas with vibrant prayer flags.
- Tamu Lhosar: 30th December 2022
- Sonam Lhosar: 2nd February 2022
- Gyalbo Lhosar: 3rd March 2022
9. Tihar— Nepal’s Glistening celebration
Tihar festival is a five-day extravaganza that occurs immediately after Dashain. Tihar, often known as the ‘festival of lights,’ is observed by fervently worshipping Goddess Laxmi. Numerous candles and lamps are lit in front of the idol to symbolise the end of the terrible days and the beginning of the good era.
Along with Goddess Laxmi, they worship crows and dogs on the first two days, cows on the 3rd day, and oxen on the 4th day. The fifth day is observed with Bhai tika, in which sisters place tika on their brothers’ foreheads and wish for their long life. Mha puja is also observed by the Newar people on the fourth day.
- Attractions: Decorating every residence and temple with diyas (Diwali lights) and the worship of Laxmi—the Goddess of Wealth—on the third day, as well as Govardhan puja on the fourth day.
- Date: October 25th, 2022
10. Dashain— Nepal’s largest festival
Dashain festival, which lasts 15 days, is one of Nepal’s most extensively celebrated holidays. Dashain commemorates Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon Mahishasura via devotion, feasts, festivals, and family reunions. Nepalis also celebrate Dashain in honour of the land’s fertility and a bountiful harvest. Ghatasthapana is the 1st day of the festival, while Kojagrat Purnima is the last day. Phulpati or holy flowers are used to commemorate the seventh day, and Brahmins transport kalasha with jamara and bamboo stalks from Gorkha to Kathmandu. Animal sacrifices are frequent in Nepal during the eighth and ninth days of Dashain. On the tenth day, Vijayadashami is observed, during which friends and relatives gather to share congratulations and blessings.
- Attractions include kite flying competitions and devotion of the Ashta Matrikas (eight tantric deities) and Durga’s nine incarnations.
- Dates: October 3rd – 6th, 2022
FAQs About The Popular Festivals of Nepal
Dashain and Tihar are Nepal’s two largest and most celebrated festivals. Dashain is a Hindu mythological celebration of Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon Mahishasura, while Tihar is a festival of lights and colour devoted to Goddess Laxmi, the Hindu mythological deity of wealth and prosperity.
Each year, Nepal celebrates more than 50 festivals. While national festivities have fixed dates, religious events are determined according to the lunar calendar by astrologers.
Festivals provide a significant contribution to societal cohesiveness. Numerous such events center on cultural or ethnic themes and aim to educate community members about their customs. They include community elders sharing their tales and experiences; they serve as models for family harmony.
Now that you know all about the various festivals of Nepal, it’s time to get ready to celebrate them all with a lot of pomp and love! For more blogs about popular festivals, keep reading Seema!