Nepal Travel Information
It is true about Nepal that every other structure is a holy shrine and every other day a festival. Well, if the number of annual festivals, both religious and national, is any indication, the saying couldn't be more true. Festivals are an essential part of Nepalese life that garner tremendous local participation. Festivals also offer visitors a valuable opportunity not only for having fun but gaining insight into various aspects of Nepalese culture.
The religious festivals follow the lunar calendar, while national festivals have fixed dates. Wherever or whenever you arrive in Nepal, you can be pretty sure of being at the right time for one or more special events. Some of the major and interesting festivals are presented below:
The Nepalese New Year's Day usually falls in the second week of April. i.e. the first day of Baisakh. The day is observed as a national holiday. The people celebrate it with a great pomp and show. On this occasion, Bisket Jatra is held in the city of Bhaktapur.
Baisakh Poornima (April):
As Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the Light of Asia, the triple anniversary of the Buddah's birth, enlightenment and death is observed with many colorful ceremonies on this day. People celebrate the occasion with great veneration paying homage to Buddha at places like Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath and Lumbini.
Red Machchhendranath Rath Jatra (May-June):
This festival is the biggest socio-cultural event of Patan. The wheeled chariot of a deity known as Bungdyo or Red Machchhendranath is made at Pulchowk and dragged through the city of Patan in several stages till it reaches the appointed destination (Lagankhel) . The grand finale of the festival is called the 'Bhoto Dekhaune' or the 'showing of a vest'. A similar kind of chariot festival to Machchhendranath (white) is also held in Kathmandu city in the month of March-April.
It is celebrated in all the Sherpa settlements in the month of July. The Sherpas of Kathmandu and Helambu regions participate in dancing on this day.
Gai Jatra (July-August):
It is a carnival that lasts eight days. Dancing, singing, comedy and anything that causes mirth and laughter are its highlights.
The festival of Indra, the God of rain, is observed with great enthusiasm in Kathmandu Valley. The festival lasts for eight days. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out in procession through the main streets of Kathmandu. The festival is specially noted for the echoes of drums and dancing feet of the masked dancers almost every evening.
Dashain or Durga Puja (September- October):
The Dashain festival is the most important festival of the Nepalese. The entire country is in enthusiastic holiday mood at the time is the festival.
Tihar (Deepawali) (October-November):
Known as the Festival of Lights, Tihar is celebrated for five days. Houses are illuminated at night and special sweets of different varieties are prepared.
This festival is most impressively observed in the month of February by the Sherpas. They organize folk songs and dances on this occasion. These dances can be seen in Khumbu, Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Bouddhanath in Kathmandu.
Maha Shivaratri (February):
Shivaratri or the Night of Lord Shiva is observed in February-March. A great religious fair takes place in the Pashupatinath Temple and thousands of people from all over Nepal and India flock the temple to worship Lord Shiva.
Known as the festival of horses, it is one of the most exciting festivals of Kathmandu. Horse race and other sports take place at Tundikhel on this day. In other parts of the city, various deities are carried shoulder-high on palanquin (khat) to the accompaniment of traditional music.
Teej is a Hindu festival celebrated by women. Dancing, folk song and the red colour of women's wedding saris dominate the days of Teej. Women observe a fast and flock to Shiva temples where married ones pray for a happy conjugal life and unmarried ones for a good husband.
MANI RIMDU FESTIVAL
The most important festival in Tengboche is called the Mani Rimdu. It consists of a nine day meditation cycle and ends with a public blessing ceremony and the world renowned Mask Dances at Tengboche Monastery.
The following are the approximate dates of Mani Rimdu events this year based on the lunar calendar for the Tibetan year of the Wood Monkey, 2131:
2nd Week of October: Making the Sand Mandala (fine
coloured sand from the glaciers is used to draw a beautiful and intricate mystical diagram or mandala)
After 5 Days: Making of the tormas (sculptures made of made of coloured butter and barley flour representing symbolic offerings)
Then: Start of the 8 day meditation ceremony invoking the blessings of Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of compassion
Next Day: Practice dancing without masks Wong (blessing ceremony for the general public) Famous Mask Dances open to the public from 10.00 A.M. to 17.00 P.M. During the whole night there is traditional dancing by the Sherpa community Fire ceremony. Concluding ceremony in the Monastery's courtyard The dates are one day earlier for the Mani Rimdu performed in Chiwang Gompa.
These dates were given by Tengboche Rinpoche, Abbot of Tengboche Monastery. These dates may vary by one or two days depending on local events.
Dumje Festival is performed by the Tengboche Monks in Namche Bazaar and Khumjung.
26 June 2004: Start of the ceremonies in Namche
01 July 2004: Conclusion of the ceremonies
02 July 2004: Full moon and Dzam Ling Chi Sang (Local Deities’ Day)
These dates may vary by one or two days depending on local events. They were given by Tengboche Rinpoche, Abbot of Tengboche Monastery.