Nepal is a secular country form past few years, but the majority of the population here follows the Hindu religion besides this Buddhist, Muslim, Christian religions are followed most. The majority of the people follows Hinduism, Buddhism thus, much of the Hindu and Buddhist festivals are followed here. Also government separates the public holidays on the big festivals. Nepal follows the lunar calendar system and Nepalese New Year falls around the second week of April.
April – May
Buddha Jayanti – Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima festival is the most sacred day in the Buddhist calendar celebrated on the full moon of baishakh (April-may). On this day the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and Nirvana. Buddhist devotees worship and serve the needy people on this day and many students learning the way of Buddhism pass out on this day. It is observed by the Buddhist people around the world.
Ubhauli Festival – Ubhauli festival is celebrated by Kirat people. This festival is celebrated to pray for god to get the good harvest which the people have sowed during spring. This festival is mostly celebrated on the Eastern part of Nepal with traditional Sakela and Chandi dance.
June – July
Eid al-Fitr – It is an important festival celebrated by Muslim people. It marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The shape of the moon determines the day of Eid.
August – September
Teej – Teej is the festival celebrated by the married and unmarried women’s of Nepal. During this festival, Nepalese women worship lord Shiva for a healthy and prosperity of their husbands and family. On this day women’s take fasting without a drop of water in the mouth. It is celebrated in the Bhadra month with green and yellow Bengals and dress by the women.
Krishna Janmasthami – It is the annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna. The devotees of Krishna observe fast for the whole day and night, worshipping him and keeping vigil through the night while listening to his tales and exploits. Many devotees visit Krishna temple and worship for healthy and prosperous life of their own and family.
October – November
Dashain – During the month of Ashwin (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, 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. Throughout the Nepal the goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable Dashain, 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.
Tihar – It lasts for five days and is marked by worship to different animals such as a crow, the dog and the cow, five various days. The most important day is Laxmi Puja. The most endearing sight of this festival is presented by the illumination of the entire town with rows of tiny flickering lamps on Laxmi Puja. In the evening of this day, the goddess of wealth, Laxmi is worshipped at every household and it is in her welcome that myriad of lamps is burnt. On the fifth day, sisters show their affections towards their brothers with a Puja and feed them with delectable food. They pray for their brother’s long life to Yama, the Hindu god of death.
Chhath parva – This festival is mainly celebrated in eastern Terai by the Maithali – speaking people as well as in the rest of the country. It has been a cultural convergence of both the Maithali – speaking people and people migrated to Terai from hill area. Chhath festival is marked for four days. Men and women prepare special dishes made up of special rice and molasses and taste them after an audience to the moon. They take a dip in Gangasagar, the famous lakes of the area. During the four-day-festival, the devotees worship the rising and setting sun. They have a belief that worshipping the sun would help cure the disease like leprosy and, bring about longevity and prosperity to their family members. Local people say that the festival has become more important after migrants from the hills also adopted it as their own culture asset.
Bala Chaturdashi – This simple, festive day takes place in the ancient forest surrounding the temple of Pashupatinath. It is one of the oldest traditions of the valley. Families who have lost a loved one in the last year keep an all night vigil in the forest, lighting lamps and singing song. Following a ritual morning bath, people walk through the forest, scattering seventh types of grain along the paths and over the Lingas of Lord Shiva to give merit to their late kinsmen and to cleanse the sins of a mythological man called Bala who had been transformed into a demon.
December – January
Losar – Losar is the new year celebration of the Buddhist people in Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. People migrated from Tibet to other parts, celebrates this festival as festival of joy, love and brotherhood. Four types of losar are in the practice differently according to the caste of the people who follow Buddhism.
Yomari Punhi – is the most popular Newari festival. It reflects the meaning ‘Yomari’ is a kind of Newari food and ‘Punhi’ is called full moon. It’s also known as the day of Dhanya Purnima .It takes place in December during the full moon day. On this full moon day, people of Kathmandu valley often worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains for the rice harvest. Group of children of around neighbor and beg for yomari from housewives in the evening.
Yomari is a confection of rice flour(from the new harvest) dough shape like fish and made up of sesame seeds,Chaku a chocolate like food or Khuwa a ricotta cheese like liquid inside the dough; which then steamed.Scared marks dance is performed in Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of valley to mark the festival.
Makar Sakranti – Makar Sakranti is one of the biggest festival of Hindu, celebrated in the almost part of India & Nepal as well as Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia & Sri Lanka in different names. It is also believed that from this day the Sun’s transition into the zodiac sign of Makara arisen on its celestial path & also the change of the season in spring. Til ladoos are the special dish that is eaten on this day.
February – March
Maha Shivaratri – It is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in the reverence of lord shiva. Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the 13th/14th day in the Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month march. The festival is celebrated by offering of bald or golden apple or bilva/vilvam leaves, all day fasting and all night awake to lord Shiva. The Hindu holy site Pashupatinath temple and other shiva temple are decorated and organized the campfire in front of it.
Fagu purnima – Fagu Purnima is the lively festival celebrated by Nepalese, which is also known as the festival of colors and festival of love. People play with colors and water throughout the day. Different colors are used by the people and paint each other’s face with joy and love. Participants play, chase and color each other with dry powder and colored water. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, the end of winter, and for many a festive day meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.