Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nepal Festivals

Nepal is not only the land of mountains; it is also the land of festivals. The rich cultural heritage of Nepal is best expressed in the many large and small festivals that occur throughout the year.The best part about the festivals in Nepal is that all the events are celebrated with the same enjoyment and galore the way it used to be hundreds of years ago when people had no other source of entertainment.There are many kinds of festivals: some honor certain Hindu and Buddhist gods or goddesses, some recreate important events from ancient mythology and epic literature, some mark important times in the agricultural calendar.
Teej: This is a Hindu married woman’s day for her man. This festival is celebrated in August/September. Women clad in beautiful red saris with shining potes (glass beads), singing and dancing is the sight almost everywhere in Nepal during the festival of Teej. On this day women observe a fast and pray Lord Shiva for the long, healthy and prosperous life of their husbands and their families. The unmarried women also observe this festival with unabated zeal with the hope that they will get to marry good husbands. From early dawn, women queue up in the multiple lines in Pashupatinath to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.
Gaijatra: The festival of "Gai Jatra" (the procession of cows) which is one of the most popular festivals, is generally celebrated in the Nepalese month of Bhadra (August-September).This festival has its roots in the belief that the god of death, Yamaraj, must be feared and hence worshipped.
Tihar: This festival of lights that falls between October/November is the second biggest festival . This festival lasts for five days and people worship Laxmi – the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest and people lit candles, oil lamps and other lights and the whole place looks illuminating. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshipped and honored with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans. Crows are regarded as the messenger that brought news even during the times when there were no postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most obedient animals who guard the house . Cow is also a symbol of wealth in Hinduism and she is also the national animal of Nepal. During Tihar, the Newari community in Nepal also observes Mha puja – a ritual of worshipping one’s own body and life. On this very day, the Newari New Year which is also known as Nepal Sambat begins. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day when his sisters worship him for his long and healthy life to safeguard the lives of his sisters. This is also a gambling time in Nepal as gambling is not illegal during this festival.
Holi: This is the special day of playing the liquid color and dust colour(cinnabar) among the people. The Jubilance observes, splash and smear the colour among each other jubilantly. Nepal Government offers special holiday to this day. The nooks and corners of the metropolis look drenched with colours. Revelers mostly the youngsters walk in the street making groups by playing the colour and all of them look very farce. Also they walk joyously singing the songs and dancing as well in the street. Even the foreigners too join in this group to celebrate the festival. Grand Falgun Purnima fairs take place in most of the reputed junctions of Nepal where thousands of people assemble there on these days to celebrate the festival. But in the southern part of Nepal at Tarai, this festival is observed on the next day after the Hillians’ celebration. There is a very interesting ancient legend regarding to this festival.
Dashain:Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon.
Bagh Jatra: The Bagh Jatra of Pokhara is another cultural baggage brought by Newars from Kathmandu, celebrated in early august. The festival has been celebrated in Pokhara for about 150 years.
Tamu Dhee: Tamu Dhee (also known as Trahonte) is a Gurung holiday (august). Ceremonies are performed to purge the neighborhood of evil spirits and to safeguard one's farm and farm animals from hostile elements. The festival can be observed in Pokhara.

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