SAHID DIWAS (MARTYR’S DAY)
Sahid Diwas or Martyr’s day is an annual public holiday celebration by the Nepalese as a way of remembering and giving honor to people who sacrificed their lives to fight for what is right for the country and its people. Especially in memory of the four martyrs’ who were executed in 1941: Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Dashrath Chand, Gangalal Shrestha and Shukraraj Shastri. They gave their precious and youthful lives to tear down the autocratic Rana family rule. The Rana rulers felt those four youths were a great threat to their tyrannical regime. Shukra Raj Shastri and Dharma Bhakta Mathema were hanged and Ganga Lal Shrestha and Dashrath Chand were shot for asking a little bit of human rights for Nepalese People.
Former Royal Regime has constructed a gate called Sahid(Martyr’s) Gate with the statues of those four martyrs at four different corners and then one level above built the statue of former King Tribhuwan.
MAGHE SANKRANTI/MAGHI / Tharu New Year
Maghe Sankranti is the first day of month of Bikram Sambat. Magh is tenth month in the year.
Sankranti is the Sanskrit word in Eastern Astrology which refers to the transmigration of the Sun from one Rashi (sign of the zodiac) to another. In very simple word sankranti is the first day of Nepali calendar. Then obviously, there are 12 such sankrantis in a year. Maker sankranti is the transition of the Sun from Dhanu Rashi( Sagittarius) to Makar Rashi (Capricorn).
In Hindu Astrology the sun position during the year is divided into 12 Rashis (zodiac signs). It is however, very difficult to reconcile amongst Bikram Sambat month, Zodiac month and lunar calendar’s month. While the traditional calendar is based on lunar position, Sankranti is a solar event. So dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing as per the Gregorian calendar and so do the Makar Sankranti too.
It is believed that Makar Sankranti is beginning of new holy season, which ended with the start of winter. In other words, it marks the end of inauspicious phase of time which begins around mid December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be carried out starting from Makar Sankranti day. This day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days. Simply, Makar Sankranti is end of winter and beginning of spring and harvest season.
Makar Sankranti is the festival of Sun God. Sun God is the symbol of power, divinity and wisdom. Sun God is worshiped in this festival.
Maghe Sankranti is also called Maghi. Maghi is New Year of Tharu Community of Nepal.
Maghe Sankranti falls on the month of Magh, mid of January in Gregorian calendar. It is the first day of month of Magh.
Maghe Sankranti is the biggest festival of the Tharu community.This is also Tharu New Year. They call it Maghi. All the family members come together and have a big feast for this festival. They have grand celebration of Maghi starting from the final week of the month of Paush to 3 of Magh. “Previously, this used to be the day when the Kamaiyas and the Kamlaris, the generationally bonded laborers, got a break from their daily chores to make a new agreement with their masters. But after the abolishment this system, the same day has become a day of emancipation,” says Buddhiram (freed kamaiya). As the most important festival of Tharus, Maghi is the biggest celebration of the year and a three-day affair. The celebrations that begin on the eve of Maghi continue for the next two days. A special Maghi dance is performed and the animals and birds slaughtered on the last day of Paush are consumed with alcohol. It is also a festival of rekindling dead ties and dissipating animosity as this is the time when even enemies greet each other with a smile and embrace.
Other than singing, dancing, decision-making, planning and worshipping, Maghi is also an affair for homemade delicacies like roti and dhikri. The women in the household are busy all day, cooking and dancing. Maghi is significant to married women too because it has a special ritual of providing them with gifts called “nisrau,” a nice package consisting of salt, rice and other grocery items. Usually, parents and brothers, after taking a bath in the rivers early Maghi morning, prepare these articles as gifts for their married daughters and sisters.
Sonam Lhosar / Tibetian New Year
Lho means year or age and Sar means new or fresh. The word Lhosar means New Year or beginning of new era. Tamang celebrate their new year on the first day of new moon or in other words the very next day after the no-moon day of month of Magh (Magh Sukla Pratipada).
Sonam Lhosar falls on different dates each year in Bikram Sambat and English calendar. This calendar is in ancient Tibetan Chinese lunar calendar. The New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (rarely the third if an intercalary month intervenes).
Tamang has a tradition of counting year with association of symbols of 12 different animals. It starts with Rat and ends on Boar.
How do we celebrate Sonam Lhosar: the last day of 12th month of the year is a time to clean and prepare a welcoming atmosphere for New Year. The monasteries perform a special ritual with mask dance to expel negative forces. The New Year celebration varies. People go to Monasteries, Stupas and Chaityas and Perform ceremonial rituals there.
People buy new dresses and decorate their houses according to their living standards. Tradition is there every family members thoroughly clean their houses to sweep away any bad fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors are decorated with colorful papers and clothes and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”. People get together and have dinner with families.
The feast includes items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet deserts. Musical program are performed with Tamang Selo in the beat of Damfu. Now a day’s Tamangs of Kathmandu and nearby gather in Tudikhel to celebrate Sonam Lhosar. They organized different programs there. The attractions are generally puja, Lok Dohari competition, Food Festivals, Dramas etc.
Tamangs are seen in their own costume dresses. The Tudikhel (open public ground in the heart of Kathmandu city) is full with crowd with Lhosar celebration. Women and girls wear their traditional dresses and jewelry and most of them wear a traditional hat. Lhosar brings joy to all Tamang and Nepali as a whole.
Tamang and their history in Brief: Tamang is one of the largest communities in Nepal. Tamang are about 8% of total population of Nepal. Tamangs are very ancient tribe and are the original people of Yambu. Tamang is made up of two words, Ta is Horse and Mang is Rider. It is assumend that they were connected with business of horse trading or riding, some view is different and they consider Tamang as Horse warriors.
Large numbers of Tamang people live in the middle hilly region to Himalayan range of Nepal including Capital city Kathmandu. Tamang have generally been lived in district of Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Dhading, Makawanpur, Chitwan, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Dolakha, Ramechhap and Sindhuli. However, they are now all over Nepal, and even in so many countries around the world. Some of them are migrated to eastern India especially to Darjeeling, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland and Guwahati so as to Bhutan and Burma.
Tamang are very rich in their tradition and culture. They have their own language, culture, dresses and social structure. Tamang generally believes in Buddhism. It is said that 90% of Tamang are following Buddhism as their religion. Tamang language is one of the members of Tibetan Burmeli family.
Tamang have their own music, their musical instrument is called Damphu. It is a small round drum where one side of the circular wood is covered by the skin of a goat and is joined with thirty two small bamboo pencils like pieces.
It is said long back, Tamang used to move from places to places for food and shelter. They live on wild fruits, yams (Kandamul) and animal’s meat. They used to hunt for the food all day long and share food with the people living together in the temporary shelters. Once it happened, a leader of a group named Peng Dorjay went for hunting food along with some members they were empty hands throughout the day. In the evening they were returning back home without food, the leader saw a goat gazing on a high cliff. He aimed his arrow at the goat and killed the goat. He skinned off the goat and dried the skin under the sun. As soon the skin went dry, he made a small round drum and started playing it, thanking the God for food. The same drum is called Damphu.
Tamang song is known as Tamang Selo. There are song life’of humor and wit, philosophical thoughts and of life’s joys and sorrow. Tamang Selo has transcended the boundaries of linguistic, culture and social limits. Tamang Selo music is one of the very popular Nepali music throughout Nepal.
SHREE PANCHAMI / SARASWOTI PUJA / BASANTA PANCHAMI
Shree Panchami, Basanta Panchami or Saraswoti Puja is one of the most important festivals in Nepal. Basanta panchami is the day when winter ends and spring starts. Basanta Panchami falls in January-February (Magh-Fagun). We worship Goddess Saraswoti in this day. Goddess Saraswoti is regarded as the goddess of Knowledge. She is the creator of art, music, science and all education. Saraswoti is one of the greatest creations of Lord Brahma. She is believed to be the most beautiful creation of Brahma.
Saraswoti is four handed Goddess seated on a white lotus wearing white sari. Her vehicle is a white Swan. She holds Veena, Book and a garland in her hands.
Saraswoti Puja is observed on Magh Sukla panchami. Saraswati Puja is done on Panchami, so the day is called Shree Panchami.
What do we do in Saraswoti puja in Nepal: the day is very auspecuois day. This is the day for many kids start writing their first alphabets. Children are taken to Saraswoti temple and asked to read and write first letter of their life. The wall of Saraswoti temples across the country are scribbled by Nepali Alphabet, numbers and slokas. Kids use white chalk to write on the slate or wall. Therefore, it is very important day for every kid. It is believed, Shree Panchami is the best day to start learning new things. Students worship books, pens, notebook and other instruments. Musicians worship their instruments. A professional worships their tools. In one sentence this is the day when the source of knowledge, art and education are worshiped.
Students worship goddess Saraswoti with more diligence and respect. School and colleges have special celebration of Saraswoti puja. In Madhesh and Terai region of Nepal there is tradition of collecting money to build and establish idols of goddess Saraswoti at the town avenues. People visit the idol and pay homage and regards. People sometimes organize idols competition too, the community who established the best idol wins and is awarded, this adds more fun to the celebration.
Since this day is believes to be very good and auspicious people get married, start new business and start new venture in this day. There are many temples of saraswoti across the Nepal. In every temple area there is always a small separate temple for Saraswoti. It is a tradition of establishing Saraswoti and Ganesh in every temple in Nepal.
Shivaratri is celebrated as birth-night of Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is the night of Falgun Krishna Chaturdesi under Hindu Lunar Calendar. The Lingodhab Moorti of Lord Shiva was self immerged at midnight of Shivaratri. So, this night is celebrated as the Birth-night of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is called Bhaolenath too.
Stories behind the celebration of Shivaratri: During Samundra Mantha, the poison came out of the ocean. It starts creating destruction all over. To protect the universe from the devastation Lord Shiva drank the poison and managed to keep it in his throat. His throat turned blue since then he is known Nilkantha. Nilkantha in Sanskrit is one with blue throat.
Shiva protected the world from the dangerous poison; therefore, people started celebrating the day as Shivaratri and thanking Shiva for shaving the world. It is believed Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati on this day. Some places, Shivaratri is observed as marriage anniversary of Shiva-Parvati too.
There are basically three things happened same day, on falgun Sukla Chaturdashi:
1. The Lingobhav Moorti self immerged at midnight of this day.
2. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married
3. Lord Shiva took the poison Halahal and became Nilkantha saving the world from devastation.
How is Maha Shivaratri celebrated: According to the Shiva Puran, six items are regarded precious to worship and offer Lord Shiva in Maha Shivaratri. Six items are: Bel(Marmelos) leaf, Varmilion Paste(chandan), Food Items (Prasad), Incense (Dhoop/Batti), Lamp(Diyo), Betel Leaves.
Shiva devotees observed whole day and night fasting. Shiva Linga Pooja is done in the night by chanting mantras, offering Bel Leaf and pouring water on the linga. Fireplace is set in avenues and in temples at night to make Lord Shiva warm. Children go in search of wood singing “Shivaji lai jado bhayo aago deu”. (Shivaji is feeling cold, give some fire). In village and towns big logs are burnt in places and people sing Shiva bhajans whole night.
Pashupatinath is the biggest temple of lord Shiva in Nepal. In Shivaratri, Pashupatinath temple has a big possession. Hindu devotees from all over Nepal and India visits Pashupatinath, large number of Shadus come here. The shadus are covered with bhibuti (Ashes), they are said to have mastered the pain of heat, cold and suffering and have devoted their life to Lord Shiva. They stand naked blessing the devotees. They smoke weeds as a divine gift of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is the one who enjoys taking bhis (poison), bhang, Dhatoro (Jimson weeds).
There is always a big fair and market set around Pashupati temple area in Shivaratri. Lagre numbers of people are seen visiting the temple. People are seen buying things. Announcements, music, dances, sadhus, market and large number of tourist make Shivaratri more fun. Women and kinds are seen putting mehendi on their hands Mehandi (Heena) by the local artists sitting on the pavements. Snake dance, circus and other fun activities can also be seen in the surrounding areas of Pashupati temple.
FAGUA / HOLI
Holi is the festival of color. This festival is also farewell of winter and welcoming of summer in Southern Asia. Holi is celebrated in full moon day in Falgun. Hence, Holi is also called Fagu Purnima. Hence, Holi is also called Fagu Purnima. Holi is called Dhuli in Sanskrit.
Holi is celebrated with colors, water, sweets and music. People put color on each other as a token of love. People go houses of relatives and friends in group. Put colors on each other eat sweet and move whole day. People dance and play music. People in Terai celebrate Holi next day from Kathmandu Valley and other hilly reasons of Nepal.
People used to make Pichkari (water guns) out of bamboo and throw colored water on each other. Nowadays balloons and plastic water gun (pichkari) are used. The balloon filled with water is called Lola in Nepali. Kids start throwing lolas on each other from week ahead of main Holi days. The burning of the wood log in village and town avenues is very important part of Holi celebration. This event is called Holika Dahan, the end of Holika.
Holi is officially holiday in Nepal. Offices are closed on Fagun Purnima in Hilly reason to celebrate Holi and the very next day, Terai is off for the celebration.
Stories behind holi celebration
Lord Krishna and Radha: lord Krishna was repeatedly, complaining his mother Asodha that all his girl frienda were teasing him saying Black One (Kale). And ask her, “why was he dark when his all the girlfriend (Gopini) including Radha were fair?”
Yashodha gave Krishna different colors and asked him to throw it on Gopini’s faces so they would look dark too. Krishna took colors and threw it on Gopinis, but they were in love with Krishna so they loved color game and enjoyed it. From that day Holi has been celebrated.
Death of Holika: It is said that Holi is the day when Holika died. It is celebration of her death.
Prahladh was the son of Hiranyakashyapu, a demon who started thinking he was only the Lord in this Universe. Prahladh became devotee of Lord Vishnu, while Hiranyakashyapu wanted all to worship him only. He wanted to convince his son with various tries but failed. Prahladh never stopped worshipping Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashyapu then planned to kill his five years old son. He ordered his sister Holika to kill Praladh. Holika was blessed with a fire proof dress. She went to flame with carrying prahladh. However, due to devotion of Prahladh Lord Krishna burnt Holika and safely rescued Prahladh.
Holika Dahan means the end of Holika became Holi. People celebrate the end of Holika with colors, so the festival Holika Dahan became later Holi. This is tradition of making Hay Holika and burns it on the Holi.
Krishna and Draupadi: it is said that Holi is celebrated to remember the love of Krishna to Draupadi when he protected her when the Kaurav did her Chir haran. Kaurav were pulling her sari, Lord Krishna made the sari endless. Lord Krishna saved Darupadi and this day is celebrated as Holi.
Holi in west Nepal: in Terai, Holi is celebrated the very next day of Fagu Purnima. Tharu people called it Faguwa. The celebration style of Holi is little bit different in far west, people of this region is very much rich in culture and language. So, in holi people gathered and start playing Deuda in their own language along with Color and water. People forget about the rivalry and enjoy together. Most of the people wear white color dress so that they look more attractive in different colors.
Similarly, Holi (Faguwa) is one of the most important and big festival of Tharu people. Like other community they also celebrate Holi with full enthusiasm. They wear their traditional dresses and also perform Sakhiye Naach. The big feast is organized at the night time where they have their traditional dishes like dhikri, Ghongi, Jaad (wine made of rotten rice) etc.
In Far-Western and Mid-Western Region, 1st Baisakh of Bikram Sambat is the beginning of New Year and celebrated as Bisupat Sankranti, Bisau Parba symbolizes the beginning of New Year and harvest season. It is an important festival of the Region. On this day, the sun enters the Zodiac sign of Aries of Mesha Rashi.
In the New Year day several popular delicacies of Far-west like Gatani Dupka, Batuk, Babar, Mada, Nisose are prepared in every household. Some people go to the bank of rivers for holy bath. In some village, on the day of Bisau, youth of the village gather at a place carrying small bundles of stick and worship the stick which is known as Latthi Pujne. On the occasion of Bisu, annual workship (puja) locally known as Jaat, is also held in some temples.
Aama ko Mukh Herne Din (Mother’s Day)
Mother’s Day in Nepal is also known as Mata Tirtha Ausi. People pay homage to their mothers presenting her favorite food, clothing and various gifts on this day. Mukh Herne means to allow someone as our relative or give respect or to recognize the achievement of or to love someone”. This is the day when we recognize and pay respect to our mother for her care and unconditional love to us, so we all this day the “Mother’s Day”- “Aama ko Mukh Herne Din” (the literal meaning is “to see Mother’s face”)
Mother’s day is not attached to a certain religion or a particular community. This occasion is observed by many communities across the nation. Mother’s day in Nepal is a traditional rather than a festival of a particular group or community.
Story behind celebrating Mata Tirtha: also according to a story a boy used to take his cows to graze nearby the pond. Whenever he started eating the food the lunch time a bit of the food fell in the pond. This kept happening for a long time. One day the boy peeped into the pond to find what’s was going on in the pond. Surprisingly, he saw his dead mother in the pond. The boy wanted her mother to go home with him. He insisted and starts crying asking her to come home with him. But she said she was already dead and it is not possible to go back once someone died. However, she said she would appear in the pond every year on Baishak Krishna Aushi (NO-moon day of Baishak). He agrees and went back. He started visiting the pond and sees his mother on same day every year. Many people started to visit the pond to see their mother on the same day. It is said that, once a lady visiting the pond wished to see her dead mom’s image but she couldn’t see after long wait, with frustration she jumped into the pond and died. Since the lady committed suicide in the pond, the dead people stopped being seen in the pond.
RAM NAWAMI/CHAITE DASHAIN
Rama Nawami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of the god Ram to king Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, is one of the oldest avatars of Lord Vishnu having a human form. The holy day usually falls in the Shukla Paksha on the Navami, the ninth day of the month of Chaitra in the B.S. Hindu calendar. Rama Nawami is one of the most important Hindu Festivals. At some place of Nepal the festival lasts the whole nine days of the Navaratri, thus the period is called ‘Sri Rama Navaratri’. A large number of Hindu devotees from different parts of the country and from neighboring country India come on a pilgrimage to the Ram Janaki Temple in Janakpurdham on this occasion. Likewise, worships are also held at temples dedicated to ramchandra, the Hindu deity and incarnation of Lord Vishnu across the country.
Hindu scriptures such as the Ramayan are recited and the devotees observe a vigil tonight by observing a fast. It is believed to fulfill one’s wish. Born as the 10th incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the eldest son of King Dasaratha of the Ayodhya, Sri Ram married Sita, the daughter of King Janak of Mithila. The festival is observed to commemorate the victory of Sri Ram over the demons and his inspiration to the human kind to follow the path of truth and that of highest moral standards.
NEPALI NEW YEAR
The New Year in Nepal starts on Baishakh. Baishak is the first month of Bikram Sambat (B.C) Calender. Bikram Sambat is the official calendar of Nepal. Nepal celebrates nine different years in different times of year. Baisakh 1st falls in mid April. Nepal has more than 60 ethnic groups with their own unique culture and most of them have their own language. In other word Nepal is a live example of unity in diversity. People of different cast and culture live in Nepal. We all have our own New Year and we celebrate 9 different new years. We celebrate each of them with same zeal and enthusiasm. However, Baisakh 1st is regarded as national New Year starts this day. People plan picnic, tour and travel in this day. New Year is a fun day celebration. Friends and Family gathers and organize picnic or day out. Parks across the country are full of people with celebration.
Buddha Purnima Festival or Buddha Jayanti Festival is the most sacred day in the Buddhist calendar. It is the most important festival of Buddhists, and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Although Buddhists regard every full moon as sacred, the moon of the month of Vaisakh/Baisakh (April-May) has special significant because on this day Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and Nirvana. This strange, three-fold coincidence, gives Buddha Purnima its unique significant.
Buddha Jayanti is the birth day of Lord Gautam Buddha. Buddha’s original name was Sidhartha Gautam. Siddhartha Gautam was born about 543BC in Kapilvastu of Nepal.
Siddharth was son of King Suddhodhan Gautam and Queen Maya Devi. Buddha was born in garden of Sal trees (Shore Robusta), situated in the beautiful and peaceful Lumbini zone in Rupandehi district of Nepal. UNESCO has listed Lumbini, Nepal as a world heritage site and birthplace of Gautam Buddha.
The biggest festival celebrated in Khaptad National Park is the annual Khaptad Mela – Ganga Dashahara. Pilgrims come to take a holy bath at the park’s sacred Tribeni wetlands, where the Sailenge Khola and the Kausiya Khola rivers meet. Over 5000 people gather for this celebration! The festival is very important for cultural exchange among the population of Nepal‘s far west. The religious rituals are accompanied by performing traditional dances and other cultural activities.
Guru Purnima is the day to show gratitude to one’s Guru who removes inner fears and show the path to Pararambha, the Supreme One. Guru Purnima is observed on the Full Moon day during Ashadh month (June/July). Guru Puja or Guru Worship is performed on this day in order to offer obeisance to his Guru or teachers on this day. He is a teacher, a spiritual master and the one who guides you through your personal, professional and spiritual development.
It is the day to revere our teacher and mentors who male our life valuable. It is the Guru who removes the darkness from within his students and leads them to the lights of wisdom and ultimately introduces them to God. The ones who impart temporal wisdom such as school teachers and college lecturers are also felicitated on this day.
Muslims of Nepal celebrate Eid-al-Fitr festival, one of the most important Islamic festivals. The festivals, celebrated for one to three days, mark the end of Raamadan, the month-long fasting by Muslim community. The date of the festival is set every year according to the Islamic calendar. On this day the Islamic community offer prayers and call for unity among all. Nepal government has given public holiday for this festival.
The birthday of Hinduism’s favorite Lord Krishna is a special occasion for Hindus, who consider him their leader, hero, protector, philosopher, teacher, and friend all rolled into one. Krishna took birth at midnight on the Ashtami or the 8th day of the Krishnapaksha or dark fortnight in the Hindu month of Shravan (August-September). This auspicious day is called Janmastami.
Lord Krishna is regarded as the 8th avatar or ‘incarnation’ of Lord Vishnu. Krishna belonged to the Vrishni clan (Yadu Vansa) of Yadavs from Mathura. He was the eighth son of King Vasudev and Queen Devaki of Mathura. He was born exactly at midnight. His incarnation took place to end the ill doings of his wicked maternal uncle Kansa. He was biological child of Vasudev and Devaki, but he was brought up by Nanda and Yosadha Maiyya. Krishna’s childhood is full of fun and love. His youth is romantic and example of love and friendship with Gopis and Gopinies. He was married to Rukmini. His beloved Gopini was Radha.
Krishna has very important role in Holy Battle of Mahabharat. He was the Chariot Rider of Arjun. He was the main character who supports Pandavs against Kauravs to win the holy war. His holy advices are known as Bhagwat Gita, where he teaches Arjun about Dharma and Paap (Sin). He did not physically take part in the battle, but he was the heart and soul of Pandavs. The pandavs had never won the war without his help.
He is worshiped with so many names: Krishna, Murari, Hari, Gopal, Shyam, Nanda Lala, Makhan Chor and hundreds of other names. In fact, Krishna said “you just remember me, whatever name; I will be with you, if I know you are calling me”. He is named Krishna because he is Dark. Krishna in Sanskrit is Dark (Black). He is regarded as inventor of Basuri/Murali (Flute). He was fond of playing flute. He always had flute in his hand. He played hid flute in Brindaban and Mathura. It is said, the vibration of his music is still floating in the environment of those places.
Reason behind the celebration of Krishna Janmastami: In Bhagwat Gita Krishna says, “Whenever there is predominance of evil and decline of good doings (religion). I will reincarnate again to end the evil and to save the Dharma (good)”. Krishna Jayanti is celebration of victory of good and Dharma over devil and bad power. We celebrate this day to remember that when the pot of sin is filled, there is an end to the devil, God will come to rescue. Krishna Janmastami reminds us those stories of battle between good and evil and tells us that the good always wins.
Krishna Janmastami is celebrated all around the world by all Hindu; there is tradition to observe a fasting till midnight. They enchanted Slokes from the “Bhagwat Gita” and sing religious songs (Bhajans). The temples of Lord Krishna are decorated and bhajans and kirtan are sung or played. The Krishna Mandir in Patan Durbar Square, Narayanhiti Krishnamandir and other temples of Lord Krishna are the centers for festivities in Krishna Janmastami. On Krishna Janmastami numerous devotees flock to the ancient Krishna temple in old Patan Durbar Square to keep vigil through the glorious night of his birth. As they sit huddled together their bodies rocking in humble obeisance, the women chant the many names of the Lord, ‘Narayan, Narayan’ and ‘Gopal Gopal’. Some sing ancient hymns, other clap their hands, while some pray.
In far west region also Krishna janmastami is one of the famous festivals to be celebrated. People of far west not only celebrate the birth day Krishna but also the very second day of Krishna Janmastami which is called DOL JATRA. Dol Jatra is the second Day celebration of Lord Krishna’s Birth, in which people dress up like god and goddess and parade round the Dahangadi Bazar. Many people take part in this parade, sometime crowd becomes uncontrolled. However, Dol Jatra is very famous in Far west region, and it is celebrated through the centuries.
Gai is cow and Jatra is Procession (Festival). Gai j Jatra festival, the procession of cows, generally falls in the month of Bhadra, which correspond to English calendar month of August/September. This year Gai Jatra is on August 30, 2015. This is on Bhadra 13, 2072 BS. The festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals in Nepal. It is said people in ancient time started worshipping Yamaraj, “the god of death” on this day.
However, the modern form of celebration of Gai Jatra came into existence in the medieval period of Nepal during the reign of Malla Kings. The present form of Gai Jatra with humorous acts, parody, comedy and was started by then King of Kathmandu Pratap Malla. He made Rani Pokhari (Pond) in the heart of Kathmandu and builds a temple in the middle of the same pond.
Traditionally every family who had death in the family during the preceding year must participate in a procession through the streets of Kathmandu leading a cow. If a cow is unavailable then a young kids dressed as cow is considered a fair substitute. However, there started tradition of leading a cow with kids in funny costumes.
Story behind the celebration of Gai Jatra– pratap Malla(King), lost his very young son. His wife, the queen was in great misery. The king was very disappointed to see the condition of his queen. King after millions of try could not make queen smile. Pratap announced that anyone who could make the queen laugh would be rewarded adequately. Pratap Malla asked to bring the cow procession before the sad queen. Then people tried their best with different costumes and humorous acts. The dance and procession finally gave queen smile on her face. The smile at the moment was temporary but the procession gave queen a big relief. She knew that there are several deaths in the city during the period and she is not alone. Death is the natural phenomenon and no one has control on it.
Hence, from the day King Pratap Malla started the tradition of cow procession with boys with different funny make ups in funny costumes. The boys even put tails and make up like monkeys and Hanauman walk through the city road to show people that the death is the truth in the life and everyone has to face it one day. The Gai Jatra tradition slowly developed into doing humorous acts including jokes, satires, mockery and lampoon in the Gai Jatra days.
After the Cow procession is over, in the afternoon everyone takes part in another tradition in which the participants dress up and wears masks. There also people enjoy the moments with songs, jokes, mockery and humors until late evening.
Gai Jatra is a festival which enables people to accept the reality of death and to prepare oneself for the life after death. It heals the grief and sorrow, at least a little, when people see the cow procession and realize people die, and we are not alone in the country that lost our loved ones.
Modern Day Gai Jatra– Modern day Gai Jatra added various flavors to the festival in consistence with traditional values, Prarap Mallla had established. In the past when there was Shah’s regime, people were not allowed to speak openly about the political system and the leaders there in. Gai Jatra was regarded as the day when people are given such liberty to talk, point and satire the system, government and the leaders. Still various comedy shows, acts and dramas are organized in different places including television and radios. Special edition of news papers are also published on this day with different cartoons and comedy articles.
Teej is a festival celebrated by Nepali women, for the long life of her husband and long and firm relationship between them until the death for this life and all the lives to come. Teej is observed for marital happiness, well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul. Teej is the most famous festival among Nepali women. The folk music and dances add more flavor to traditional values of Teej. It is fascinating to see women in RED dancing and singing on the street, going to temple in holy and fasting mood. Teej is also called Hari Talika Teej. This festival is celebrated by Nepali Hindu women all across the world.
Teej is celebrated on 3rd day of Bhadra Sukala Paksha (according to Nepali lunar calendar). It generally falls in late August or early September. Teej is traditionally dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, remembering her union with Lord Shiva. It is a three day long celebration that combines splendid feasts as well as rigid fasting. Teej also welcomes and celebrates arrival of monsoon after a season of summer heat.
The eve (first day of Teej) is called Dar Khane Din. On this day all the family members especially the women, both married and unmarried gather at one place, in their outfit of red (called Saubhagya) and start dancing and singing devotional songs mixed with Nepali folk and Dohori songs. This evening the grand feast takes place. The grand feast is called “Dar”. The fun often goes on till midnight, after midnight the 24-hour fasting starts.
What is Dar- women who go for fasting the very next day eat a very big feast “daro khana” that means a heavy food in Nepali. It is said daro khana became dar. Whatever, the meaning is, they go for big feast that evening with deserts, Mithai, Nepali foods like sel, Puri, fruits and non vegetarian foods like muttons and chicken by some communities.
The second day– second day is the main day of Teej (the fasting day). Some women take it very rigid, they even live without a piece of food and drops of water while their lagan ko pote, Natthi, and other jewelry and Chhadke tilhari (jewelries are optional but Chhadke tilhari, lagan ko pote and natthi is said to be most important and visit a nearby Lord Shiva’s temple singing and dancing all the way.
Most of devotees in Kathmandu go to Pashupatinath Temple. At the Shiva temple women worship the Shiva lingam, the symbol of the lord Shiva offering flowers, sweets and coins. The main puja (religious ceremony) takes places with offerings of flowers, fruits etc., made to Shiva and Parbati, pleading them to grant their blessing upon the husband and family. The most important part of the puja is mostly done in the evening burning the oil lamp (108 sute batti in a diyo) which should be burning throughout the night. It is a tradition of giving the diyo of teej by her mother in law to the married women.
Third day morning– women get up early in the dawn and get cleaned and do puja once again to the diyo and goddess Parvati. The most important part of this puja is a banana and holy basil (Tulsi patta) leaf. Only after this puja, women take solid food. This third day of Teej is Ganesh Chaturthi. Women eat Karkallo ko Tarkari with chokho (pure) food made with pure ghee.
RISHI PANCHAMI(the fourth day of festival): after the completion of the previous day’s puja, women pay homage to various deities and bathe with red mud found on the roots of the sacred Datwan bush, along with its leaves. This act of purification is the final ritual of Teej, after which women are considered forgiven from all their sins. However in present day many women are boycotting Rishi Panchami Puja because they think it’s challenging their dignity of being women. Because in Nepal Menstruation is considered as impure , women who are in their period are not allow to touch anything, they are not allow to go kitchen, they have to sleep in a different room, a very much discrimination is done to women who are in their period. So the women do Rishi Panchami puja for asking god to forgive them if they had touch any holy thing in their period. So, the feminist disagree with the concept of this puja, because menstruation is not related to any religion or cultural thing it’s just a monthly change in body of women which is very normal.
JANAI PURNIMA/RAKSHA BANDHAN/RAKHI
Janai is a cotton string worn across the chest by Hindu male. This thread is only given to males during a long and impressive religious ceremony called Barthabandhan. Almost all the religion has type of Barthabandhan, but known by different names. Barthabandhan is basically a formal process of accepting someone in the religion.
The Janai initiates the boy into manhood and commands them to use devotedly follow the religion and the path of truth. The Janai must be worn every day after they listen their mantra from the guru during Bartabandha. It is regarded as a symbol of body, speech and mind, and when the knots are tied, the person wearing it, is supposed to gain complete control over of them. This cord is changed if it becomes untidy or dishonored due to those acts which are forbidden by religion. However, Janai must be changed without fail on Rakshya Bandhan Day.
Rakshya means “to protect” and bandhan is “tie” or “bond”. Rakshya Bandhan is a bond or tie of protection. This thread is which is tied around the hand is called Doro. Some people even say Janai for Doro. In Rakhshya Bandhan day male, female, children and kids regardless of status and caste get tied a doro (sacred colorful thread) around their wrist. Generally males get tied thread around their right and the women around their left wrist. They believe that doro brings them good luck, when one believes, that always becomes true. People keep the doro till on Laxmi Puja day in Deepawali . This tread is taken out from wrist and tied on the tail of a cow in the cow worship day (Laxmi puja) in about October
Rakhi Day– this festival is also marked by the tying of a Rakhi or holy thread by the sisters on the wrist of her brother. The market is full of different colors Rakhi. This festival is equivalent to Bhai Tika in Tihar to some communities across Nepal. The brother in return offers a gift to his sisters and swears to look after her as she presents sweets to her brother.
In Nepal special menu for Janai Purnima in Newar community is Kwati. This day is also called Kwati Punhi, where Kwati is a soup of different beans and Punhi means the full moon day. Newar people also put the sacred thread around the wrist which is to be taken off on the day of Laxmi Puja, another festival in Tihar. In Janai Purnima Newar farmers offers different food items to frog, believing that worshipping the frog, who is considered an agent of the God of rainfall, by making offering of different food items help to increase the production of crops.
After the Gai Jatra next festival is Indra Jatra. And between them there are a number of smaller festivals and celebrations. Yes, this is Nepal’s peak time of year for festival.
For tourists visiting Nepal it is a unique opportunity to not only experience an awesome spectacle but also a chance to witness the largest traditional festival in Kathmandu along with catching a glimpse of the Living Goddesses of the valley- the Kumari
What is Indra Jatra about? – Indra Jatra is known traditionally as Yanya Punhi which is Newari (the original settlers of the Kathmandu Valley) for “Kathmandu festival”. It’s also known as kumara Jatra. So in truth it’s about two to three celebrations all made into one.
Indra is the hindu lord of rain and god of heaven, while the word jatra means procession or festival. History also tells a tale that the festival was to honor Bhairab, a manifestation of Shiva, who is believed to destroy evil.
What happens at Indra Jatra? – Technically Indra Jatra is an eight day festival but to be honest, for most people, you’ll really only see a spectacle on the penultimate day, commonly known as “Indra Jatra”.
The festival usually kicks off at 1pm at Kathmandu Durbar Square with several groups of tribal and local musicians arriving into the main area. The music is heavy on cymbals and drums. A thirty-six foot wooden pole, selected with due ceremony from the Nala forest in Kavre in east Kathmandu is brought in to represent Shiva’s Linga (Yasingh). The pole is balanced by a man and there’s a flag on top. It is believed Indra received this flag from Lord Vishnu for protection. The massive Bhairab statue in unveiled (usually the day before and on the day) in Durbar Square where alcohol pours from his mouth. It’s quite a popular statue to visit as you might imagine.
People dressed as demons enter the square and reenact mythical fights between the creatures. The music beat gets louder and the crowd surges a little. A stream of young men comes running into the square followed by an elaborately decorated team dressed as a white elephant, Tana-kishi. The elephant is looking for his master Indra and charges along the streets creating mischief along with the men running beside him who lead the charge with a little torch flame.
Finally after the dignitaries get their blessing the Living Goddesses enter the square in their special rope drawn chariots. Handlers throw out sacred carnations to onlookers. The Chariot is pulled by men and goes through massive crowds.
KUSHE AUSI(FATHER’S DAY)
Pita or Babu is guru, rakshak and the paalankarta. That means father is teacher, protector and the savior. Father’s day is the day of paying respect once again to him. Father’s day is also known as Kuse Ausi or Pitri Tirpani Aausi or Gokarne Ausi. This day Nepali people pay their homage to their father with their favorite food, clothing and other dad’s favorite stuff.
Mukh Herne means “to allow someone as our relative or give respect or to recognize the achievement of someone”. This is a special day we recognize and pay respect to our father for his care and love to us (his children’s and family) during his life. Hence, this day is called “Babu ko Mukh herne din”. The literal meaning of Mukh Herne is to see someone’s face.
Story behind celebrating Father’s Day– In father’s day, he who has already lost his father remembering him giving Sida Daan to Pandit (Sida is holy mixture of rice grains and other pure food materials with clothes)
Once Shiva and Parbati disappeared from Himalaya parbat, all the gods were very surprised searching them all across the universe. Brahma and other gods caught Lord Shiva and Parbati in Deer’s lives hiding in Sleshmantak forest in Pashupatinath. The “Buck” Shiva was caught by Brahma by his horns. Horns of Shiva came out in Brahma’s hand. Then Lord Shiva asked Brahma and Bishnu to establish those horns as Shiva Linga in somewhere in Nepal as they think fit. Barhma placed it in Gokarna , since then it is believed that worshipping Shiva in Gokarneshwor Mahadev and doing pinda daan (homage to dead people) is equivalent of visiting Gaya 1o times (Gaya is another Hindu Holy place).
How do we celebrate Bau ko mukh herne din- Nepal has more than 70 ethnic groups with almost all have their own tradition and languages. The people of different communities and tribe have their own way of celebrating father’s day. Some communities celebrate it empty stomach early in the morning and some communities celebrate it in the evening. However, all the communities prepare foods and tasty feats in and serve it to their father. The celebration and fun of the festival depends upon the place, climate and ethnicity.
Gaura is the festival which falls in month of Bhadra, according to Nepali calendar (August/September). Especially most of the middle-west and far west parts of Nepal celebrates this festival. It starts from the day of Krishna Janmastami (birth of Lord Krishna), and lasts for three days observing by worshipping Shiva and Parvati along with Ganesh. The Deuda dance is major part of this festival, in which participants hold hands and form a circle as they stepped to traditional music. Apart from the many ceremonies that happen during this festival, it is the occasion for married women to put on the sacred thread which is called DUB DHAGO.
Deuda is one type of music having variety of genre including Thadi Bhaka, Raheri and other presented in western region of Nepal. Specially this type of music present in Sudur Paschim, and many regions of Madhya-paschim. The Gaura festival is celebrated by the Hindu people residing in the far-western part of Nepal. There are many tales regarding the origin of the Gaura but mainly this day , the women worship goddess Gauri(the wife of Lord Shiva) for their husband’s health and long life.
The main theme of this festival is to worship goddess Gauri so during this day many temples of the goddess get different rituals, like prays and the main worship with Biruda(Mixture of 6/7 types of beans). Then after finishing the worship at the temple those fasting women return back to home and bless their keens with Biruda, it is supposed to give them long life and health. On the day of Krishna Janmastami women keep fasting, later they form a grass-made idol of Shiva and Parvati. They also offer a mixture of five kinds of grains, known as Panchbirudi. This festival is also called Biruda Parva, by the reason of Panchbirudi and women put on new clothes and enjoy singing their traditional songs.
According to legendary, the festival is said to have been celebrated for the last four centuries, in memory of Satidevi’s bodily sacrifice to the burning altar and her re-birth from Himalaya Parvat.
Dashain / Kalai Lagaune
During the month of Kartik (mid September to mid October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year: Dashain. It is the longest and the most well-known festival in the Nepalese annual calendar and is celebrated throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occur during the bright lunar fortnight and end on the day of the full moon. During Ghatasthapana, the first day of the Dashain festival, the citizens in far western Nepal celebrate another festival called „Kalai Lagaune“. It is regarded as an opportunity to pay homage to mother earth and is unique to the region. As part of an ancient practice, the locals collect ripe paddy stalks in the morning, offer prayers on the earth from where the stalk is removed, give some of the paddy stalks to their family deity and observe the Kalai Festival with the remaining stalks. During the Kalai festival locals decorate the upper portion of their front door with paddy stalks.
During the month of Kartik (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, Dashain. Dashain is the longest and 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 full moon. Throughout the kingdom of Nepal the goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the ritual holy bathing, thus drenching the goddess for days in blood. Dashain commemorates a great victory of the gods over the wicked demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayana, where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughters Ravan, the fiendish king of demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorized the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo. The first nine days signify the nine days of ferrous battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolize the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess. Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the kingdom as the divine mother goddess.
In preparation for Dashain every home is cleansed and beautifully decorated, painted as an invitation to the mother goddess, so that she may visit and bless the house with good fortune. During this time the reunion of distant and nearby relatives occurs in every household. The market is filled with shoppers seeking new clothing, gifts, luxurious and enormous supplies of temple offering for the gods, ducks, chicken and water buffalo for ten to fifteen days. Laborers are almost impossible to find; from the poor to the rich, all enjoy the festival mood. Anywhere you go the aroma of ‘Vijaya Dashami’ is found.
The first nine days of Dashain are called Nawa Ratri when tantric rites are conducted. In Nepal the life force is embodied in the divine energy and power of the female, depicted as goddess Durga are known as Devi, each with different aspects and powers. In most mother goddess temples the deity is represented simply as a sacred Kalash, craved water jug or multiple handed goddess holding murderous weapons. During these nine days people pay their homage to the goddess. If she is properly worshiped and pleased good fortunes are on the way and if angered through neglect then misfortunes are around the corner. Mother goddess is the source of life and everything.
The first day of Dashain is called Ghatasthapana, which literally means pot establishing. On this day the Kalash, (holy water vessel) symbolizing goddess Durga often with her image embossed on the side is placed in the prayer room. The kalash is filled with holy water and covered with cow dung on to which seeds are sown. A small rectangular sand block is made and the kalash is put in the centre. The surrounding bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The Ghatasthapana rituals are performed at a certain auspicious moment determined by the astrologers. At that particular moment the priest intones a welcome, requesting goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence.
The room where the kalash is established is called ‘Dashain Ghar’. A priest or a household man/women worship the kalash everyday once in the morning and then in the evening. The kalash and the sand are sprinkled with holy water every day and it is shielded from direct sunlight. By the tenth day, the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass. The sacred yellow grass is called ‘Jamara’. It is bestowed by the elders atop the head of those younger to them during the last five days when tika is put on. The Jamara is taken as a token of Goddess Durga as well as the elders blessing.
As days passes by regular rituals are observed till the seventh day. The seventh day is called ‘Fulpati’. In fulpati, the royal kalash filled with holy water, banana stalks, Jamara and sugar cane tied with red cloth is carried by Brahmans on the decorated palanquin under a gold tripped and embroidered umbrella. The Government officials also join the fulpati parade, with this the Dashain feasting starts.
The eighth day is called the Maha Asthami: the fervor of worship and sacrifice to Durga and Kali increases. On this day many orthodox Hindus will be fasting. Sacrifices are held in almost every house throughout the day. The night of the eighth day is called ‘Kal Ratri’, the dark night. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed at the mother goddess temples. The sacrifice continues till dawn. While the puja is being carried out great feasts are held in the homes of common people where large amount of meat are consumed.
The ninth day is called Nawami: Temples of mother goddess are filled with people from dawn till dusk. Animals mostly black buffaloes are slaughtered to honor Durga the goddess o victory and seek her blessing. Military bands play war tunes, guns boom and officers with beautifully decorated medals in full uniform stand there. When the function ends the courtyard filled ankle deep with blood. On the very day the god Vishwa Karma, the God of creativity is also worshiped. All factories, vehicles, any machinery instruments and anything from which we make a living are worshiped. We also give sacrifices to all moving machinery like cars, airplane, truck etc to get the blessing from goddess Durga for protection for vehicles and their occupants against accident during the year. The entire day is colorful.
The tenth day is the Dashami: on this day we take tika and Jamara from our elders and received their blessing. We visit our elders in their home and get tika from them while our younger ones come to our home to receive blessing from us. The importance of Dashain also lies in the fact that on this day family members from far off and distant relative come for a visit as well as to receive tika from the head of family. This function continues for four days. After four days of rushing around and meeting your relatives Dashain ends on the full moon day is also called ‘Kojagrata’ meaning ‘who is awake’. The Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi is worshipped. On this day the goddess Laxmi is given an invitation to visit each and everyone.
After Dashain everyone settle back to normal. After receiving the blessing of goddess Durga, people are ready to work and acquire virtue, power and wealth. Dashain thus is not only the longest festival but also the most anticipated one among all the festivals of Nepal.
Tihar, the festival of lights, is one of the most dazzling Hindu festivals. The Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi, is worshiped and all the houses are decorated with oil lamps. During the night this makes entire villages and cities look like they are sparkling.
Tihar is the five days celebration in Yama Panchak. Tihar is the most celebrated festival after Dashain in Nepal. It is a five day festival celebrated in late autumn. It has it unique way of celebration.
The Five Days of Tihar
Kaag Tihar- Crow Puja
Kukur Tihar- Dog Puja
Gai Tihar or Laxmi puja- Cow or Goddess of Wealth Puja
Goru Tihar, Govardhan Puja, (Aatma Puja)- Ox Puja
Bahi Tika, Bhai Dooj- Brother and Sister Puja
Story behind Tihar: there are various stories about the celebration of Tihar. One of the famous stories behind the celebration of Tihar is related to Yama the god of death and sister Yamuna. Yama had been staying away from his sister for a long time. His sister wanted to meet him so she asked various source to visit him and ask him to give her a visit. She sent crow, dog and cow and at the end she went herself to see her brother. She worshipped him with tika and flowers, she put him five colored tika. Yamuna made a circle with mustard oil, Dubo(Grass) and put Makhmali Mala (Globe Amaranth) and asked Yamaraj not to go till the oil, Dubo Grass and the flowers get dry. Therefore, every sister worships her brother keeping him in the circle of mustard oil putting mala (garland) of Makhmali flower and Dubo grass.
First Day of Tihar – Kaag Tihar (Crow Puja): on the first day of Tihar, crows are worshiped and fed early in the morning. People leave different food items outside for crows to eat. Crow is considered to be the messenger of death. People believe the crow gets the message to the house in the morning. People worship it to bring good luck themselves.
Second Day- Kukur Tihar (Dog Puja): the second day of Tihar is dedicated to the most loyal friend of mankind. Kukur, the dog, Puja is done by putting a red tika on dog’s forehead and flower garland around the neck offering him foods and sel roti. It is said that dog can see endangers and death coming and also for becoming most loyal and most loving to their masters.
Third Day- Gai (cow) Puja and Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) Puja: on the third day of Tihar Cows are worshiped in the morning. Cows are worshiped with sesame oil light, garland of flower and red color (abir). Wheat flour, sel roti, rice and daal are feed to cows. Disciples try to pass in-between four legs of the cow. Cow is regarded as mother in Hindu religion, as we grow up drinking her milk. Some look cow as Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
In the afternoon we clean our house, paint floor with Red Mud (Rato Mato) and cow dung (gobar). Small circle are made in front of the main gate and decorated with colorful designs. Some people call it rangoli. Small designs of footsteps are painted from the main entrance to the puja kotha. These footsteps are believed to be the footsteps of goddess Laxmi. Candles or pala are lit all over the house making it bright and beautiful. There is a long tradition of going housed in the evening singing songs to ask for money and food. Generally girls/boys and kids go out to neighbors sing traditional sings called Bhailo songs. The tradition is called “Bhailo” and songs are called bhailini songs.
The songs start with “Bhailini aain aagana gunyo cholo maagana, hey ausi ko din gai tiharo bhailo”. Meaning Bhailini are at your door to ask for a gunyo cholo (Nepali Tarditional dress), today is no moon day and Cow Pooja and bhailo day, the house is clean and you have done Laxmi puja, today is cow puja day and Bahilo”.
Fire crackers are blown in this day. People play cards in Laxmi puja to welcome goddess Laxmi in the night. People believe, Laxmi comes to the house which is clean and bright. In the evening the goddess of wealth Laxmi is worshiped by lighting numerous puja to welcome goddess Laxmi in the night. People believe Laxmi comes to the house which is clean and bright. In the evening the goddess of wealth Laxmi is worshiped by lighting numerous lights and lightening works. It is believed that by worshipping Laxmi and pleasing her in return she gives us wealth. It is believed that by worshiping Laxmi and pleasing her in return she gives us wealth. People worship wealth and food store this day.
Fourth day– Goru Tihar (Govardhan parbat ko puja) and Mah (aatma or self) Puja: On Govardhan pujaihar, three different kinds of puja are performed. We performed Goru Puja, or worship Oxen. We also perform Govardhan Puja, which is done by making a hill of govardhan parbat using cow dung. Cow dung has big importance in Hindu culture. In the old days it was used for everything from light at night to polish mud floors of traditional houses. Still now no Puja is complete without cow dung in Nepal Hindu culture.
In this night Newar community perform Maha Puja also known as self-puja. It is done to purify our body. In this puja a Mandap decorated with Saipatri (Marigold Flowers0, sweets and fruit and a special Mala (garland) which is made of thread is kept. Each member of the family offers the person sitting on the Mandap a sagun with her hands crossed. Shagun usually consist of fried eggs, fruit, sweets, meat, fish, lentil and pastries. In the left hand with egg and fish and in the right hand Rakshi (homemade alcohol). This day is also called the beginning of Nepal Sambat, Newari New year.
In the evening many nepali children and young men go house yo house singing Deusi song (aahai bhana mera bhai ho deusi re bhana na bhana deusere). Deusi is very similar to Bhailo. Bhailo is primarily for female and Deusi for male. However, now a day there is such distinct. People go in group with males and female members to celebrate Bhailo and deusi both.
Fifth Day– Bhai Tika or Bhai Duj : the fifth and last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika. This day sisters put “Tika of Five Color” Paanch rangi Tika- Yellow, Green, Red, Blue and White on forehead of her brothers, to ensure long life and pray to Yamaraj for her brother’s long life and prosperity. Sister offers brothers Shaguns of Dry fruits especially walnut, hazelnut (Katus), fruits and sweets and in return the brothers give their sisters gifts and money. The brothers also put Pancha rangi Tika to sisters and bow her on her feet and assure her to protect her till the end of life. On this day, Rani Pokhari Temple (located at centre Kathmandu) is opened for those who do not have any brother or sisters. This is the only time in a year the temple is open to general public.
Story and legends behind Bhai Tika: A legends has it that while performing ‘brother worship’ the messanger of Yama Raj came to collect the soul of the man going through ‘brother worship’, as the lifetime of the man has expired in the human world. However, a sister performing ‘brother worship’ has requested the messenger to wait until she completes the ‘brother worship’.
The smart sister invited the messanger to sit along with the brother and get honor of ‘brother worship’. The sister did worship so well to the messenger that he became very pleased with her and asked her anything she wished to have as a gift. The wise sister asked the messenger for a long life of her brother. Thus, she saved the life of her brother.
Another story about how the ‘brother worship’ has started is that Yama Raj has five days off, as Lord Vishnu gave the boon of ruling the three worlds for five days to Bali Raja. Lord Vishnu has tricked Bali Raja to go to a lonely dark world for his meritorious (deserving reward) act that has shocked the heavenly kingdom of Lord Indra. So, Lord Vishnu has granted him to rule all three Hindu worlds for five days in addition to agreeing on guarding Bali raja for four months. Yamaraj’s worls is one of the three worlds. So, he went to visit his sisters, as he has not visited her for a long time. Seeing her brother, Yama raj, sister Yamuna became so happy; she did not know how to welcome the brother who has visited after such a long time. So, she did every possible thing to keep her brother Yama Raj happy for five days. On the last day, before going back to his worlds, Yama Raj made the presentation of a unique gift to his sister in return for her hospitality. We believe that she had set the tradition of ‘brother worship’.
So, we call the five days of ‘Tihar’ as ‘Yama Panchak’ means the five days of Yama Raj. On these five days we do everything possible for keeping Yama Raj happy, as Yama Raj is going to judge our vices and virtues after our death, and treats our souls accordingly.
Neman is the ritual of honoring the new harvest. On this day the chirpi made during Shukrati is used to light a fire and cook the first grain harvested from the field before it is offered to the home deity. The Tharus consume the newly harvested grain only after celebrating Neman.
Yomari punhi is a Newari festival marking the end of rice harvest. It takes place in Novemember/December during the full moon day of Thinla, the second month in the lunar Nepal Era calendar. Yomari Punhi, meaning the full moon of yomari, is one of the most popular Newar festivals and is observed every year during the full moon of December. A yomari is a confection of rice flour (from the new harvest) dough shaped like fish and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seed, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi.
On this full moon day, people of the Kathmandu Valley offer worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for the rice harvest. Groups of kids go around neighborhood to beg Yomari cake from housewives in the evening. Sacred masked dances are performed in the village of Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the Valley to mark the festival. In a Yomari people keep Chaku a chocolate like food or Khuwa a ricotta cheese like liquid.
Christmas is celebration of birth of Lord Jesus. It is believed that Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in the West Bank, some six miles south of Jerusalem, capital of Israel
Christmas is celebrated in Nepal in the Nepali way. Nepali Christians are busy going to the Churches and exchanging gifts and having feasts with their nearer and dearer. There is an official holiday in Nepal on the Christmas day. Christmas is celebrated on 25th of December every year.
How do people celebrate Christmas in Nepal: Christmas is celebrated more amongst the Christian communities in Nepal. However, other communities also participate in parties and non religious celebration during holiday with Christmas. In other words, people of Nepal celebrate Christmas as a national festival as they celebrate other festivals.
People start shopping from the beginning of December. Christmas trees are erected at homes with lots of decoration on it. Trees are decorated with bells, starts, reindeers, gift boxes and many other decorations. The Christmas trees are lit up with twinkling lights. People attend services in the church during the mid-night. In the morning people visit the houses of friends and convey their best wishes. Gifts are being exchanged. In the evening the Christian homes host special Christmas feast. The feast comprises roasted chicken, vegetable salad and other Nepali foods along with Turkey, pumpkin pies and Christmas pudding. The foods and celebration depends the birth of Lord Jesus with zeal and enthusiasm.
There are so many functions organized in Thamel of Kathmandu and other cities of Nepal as well. There are many lightening, music, concert, live music held in restaurants as they also offer discount and lots of food variety during Christmas.
History of Christianity in Nepal: Protestant Christians came to Nepal primarily through the Nepalese who were living outside of Nepal during the prior to the Rana Regime. After the collapse of Ranas rule in Nepal in 1950, Nepali Christians living in India came in, along with some western missionaries. Unites Mission to Nepal, International Nepal Fellowship and other are a few earliest western mission agencies that came in and brought Christianity. According to the government data, Protestantism (a form of Christianity) accounts for about 0.5% to 1 % of Nepali population.