The colourful spectrum of Nepal celebrating festivals creates lasting and cherished memories for anyone involved. Throughout the calendar year, there are many festivals being celebrated. One of the best ways to truly understand the beauty and richness of Nepali culture is through festivals, lively and purposeful; they are a treat to all senses. A rich display of culture, festivities include rituals, songs, dances, food and performances. Everything festive in Nepal traditionally begins with something religious and moves with spontaneous spirit into a pleasant family and community feast.
Although most festivals celebrated in Nepal are religious, they can generally be divided into four groups keeping in mind the main aspects of the festival emphasised.
Religious: These festivals are specifically designed to honour a certain god or goddess.
Historical: Celebrated to keep memories alive of important events
Agricultural: Celebrating events such as planting and harvesting. Also includes those festivals with purpose of welcoming seasons.
Legendary: Based on legends rather than reliable historic records.
SOME OF THE MANY FESTIVALS
DASHAIN: October. This is the most important festival to the Nepalese. The entire country is in enthusiastic holiday mode and many make the journey back to their home villages to celebrate with family. The streets are filled with happy children flying kites or playing on huge bamboo swings constructed especially for the festival. This festival takes place over a great time to visit Nepal and is truly worth seeing.
GAIJATRA (Cow Festival): August. It is a carnival lasting 8 days. Highlights include; dancing, singing, comedy and anything that causes mirth and laughter.
TEEJ: September. A Hindu festival celebrated by women. Dancing, folksong and the colour red of women’s wedding saris dominate the days of Teej. Women observe a fast and flock to Shiva temples to pray for a happy conjugal life or to find a good husband for the unmarried.
INDRAJATRA: September. The festival of Indra, the God of Rain is celebrated with great enthusiasm, lasting 8 days. The Chariot of the Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out into procession through the main streets of Kathmandu. The festival is known for the echoes of drums and dancing feet of the masked dancers during the evenings.
TIHAR/DEEPAWALI: November. Known as the festival of the lights, Tihar is celebrated for 5 days during which time houses are illuminated at night and special sweets are prepared and enjoyed.
HOLI (Festival of Colors): Celebrates Spring in the most extraordinary display of colour and happiness
LOSAR: January-February. Impressively observed by Sherpas who organise folksongs and dances for the occasion.
Nyatapola and Bhairav Temple, Bhaktapur:
King Bhupatindra Malla built a three-storeyed temple of Bhairav to protect the city of Bhaktapur from evil spirits. Bt Bhairav, because of his boisterous nature, proved troublesome, and the king was advised by his astrologers that only the installation of a Tantric goddess who was more powerful than Bhairav could curb his unruly behavior. The king then built the five-storeyed temple and installed therein the most powerful goddess, Siddhi Laxmi, to subdue Bhairav. This magnificent temple later became as the Nyatapola (meaning five-storeyed), and is today the landmark of Bhaktapur city.