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 seasonal celebrations.
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 Buddha Jayanti.
Gai Jatra is an eight-day carnival of dancing, singing, mirth and laughter. The festival usually falls in Julay or August. As part of the festival family members of those who died in the past year send people dressed as cow to parade on the streets.
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.
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 and cities
Tihar is the festival of lights. This five-day celebrations of Tihar fall in October or November generally a fortnight after Dashain and are partaken 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 sacred 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 day.
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 worsh
Saraswati Puja or Shree Panchami is a day to celebrate the birthday of Saraswati - the Goddess of Learning. This is a day when people from school students to scholars worship their pens and books to please the Goddess and expect her favor in their studies so they become wise and knowledgeable. People also throng around the idol of Goddess Saraswati, especially in Swayambhunath and offer flowers, sweets, fruits, etc. On this day, small children are taught to read and write and people write on the stones and slabs with chalks and pencils. This day which falls between January/February is regarded as a very auspicious day for marriages too as it is believed that Goddess Saraswati herself blesses the couples. Normally it is the astrologers who fix the marriage date and time in Nepal .
Holi : This festival of water and colors that falls between February/March is also known as "Phagu" in Nepal . This day is observed to rejoice the extermination of female demon Holika who together with her King brother conspired to kill his son Pralhad, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This day, playful people especially the young ones wander through the streets in groups on foot or vehicles with various colors smeared all over them and the people in houses make merry throwing colors and water balloons at each other and also to these people on the streets.
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