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Nepal Festivals

Festival in Nepal has always been a meaningful event where people enjoy themselves more through their direct involvement than just watching them. In Nepal, every festival has some purpose to serve, such as to bring rain or to have good harvest, to avert calamities and so on. In fact, festivals are the best way to understand and appreciate the Nepalese way of life. The Nepalese year is full of festivals which are celebrated according to the lunar calendar. Some of the important festivals are listed below:

Hindu festivals:
Baisakhi Poornima:
The Nepalese New Year’s Day usually falls in the second week of April. The day is observed as a national holiday. People celebrate it with a great pomp and show. On this event, Bisket Jatra (Festival) is held in the city of Bhaktapur.

Ghode Jatra:
Ghode Jatra or horse festival is celebrated between March and April. It is one of the exciting festivals celebrated in Kathmandu. Horse race and other sports take place at the Tudikhel Parad ground on this day. In other parts of the city, various deities are carried to a shoulder-high on palanquin (Khat) with the supplement of traditional music.

Rato Machchendranath Rath Jatra (Festival):
This festival is the biggest social-cultural event of Patan which is celebrated in May-June. The wheeled chariot of a deity known a Bungdyo or Rato Machchendranath is made at pulchowk and dragged location (Lagankhel). The grand final of the festival is called the ‘Bhoto Dekhaune’ or the “showing of the vest”

Janaipurnima:
A festival is celebrated in August, in which Hindu changes sacred threads and takes a holy bath and receives yellow threaded bands in their wrist from Brahmin priests.

Gaijatra:
Celebrated in July- august, it is a carnival that lasts eight days. Dancing, singing, comedy and anything that causes mirth and laughter are its highlights.

Krishnastami:
This festival celebrated in July – August, it marks the birthday of lord Krishna on this day, and impressive ceremonies are conducted at the Krishna temple in Patan and at Chagunarayan.

Teej:
Teej festival is celebrated in August- September. Teej is a Hindu Festival celebrated by women. Dancing, folk song and the red color of women’s wedding saris dominated the days of Teej. Women observe a fast and flock to Shiva Temples where married ones pray for happy conjugal life and unmarried ones for a right husband.

Indrajatra:
Celebrated in August – September. The festival of Indra, the god of rain, is observed with great enthusiasm in the Kathmandu valley. The festival lasts for eight days. The chariot of kumara, the living Goddess, is taken out in procession through the main streets of Kathmandu. The festival is specially noted of the masked dancers almost every evening.

Dashain (Durga Puja):
Celebrated in October – November, Dashain festival is the major festival of the Nepalese. Entire country is in enthusiastic holiday mood at the time of the festival. Dashain, after the monsoon is a time for shopping, eating and socializing with friends, and family. The Dashain celebration marks the victory of the goddess Durga conquered evils on this day. Huge amount of animal sacrifice take place during the festival in temples and in home to please the goddess, Durga. The final day of the festival is as ‘Tika’, a day on which the elder ones give ‘Tika’ to the younger ones and to other relatives who come for blessings.

Tihar (Deepawali):
Know as the festival of light. Tihar is celebrated for five days. It is observed in the month of November. Tihar festival of lights is one of the most dazing of all Hindu festivals. In this festival we worship goddess lakshmi, (laxmi), the goddess of wealth. In other words, this festival is meet for life and prosperity.

Chhath:
This festival mainly Maithili- speaking people celebrate in the Terai region all over south part of the country. It is observed on the sixth day following the festival of laxmi Puja or Dipawali, Men and Women take a dip in the local river, lakes and worship the rising and setting sun. This festival lasts four days following by fasting and singing hymns.

Maha Shivaratri:
Shivaratri or the Night of the lord Shiva is observed in February-March. It is celebrated in honor of lord Shiva.  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.

Maghe Sankrati:
Tharu community celebrates the Maghe sankrati as New Year’s which falls on the first day of Magh. Usually the mid of January. Even if it is considered the coldest day of the year.  It makes the coming of warmer weather and better days of health and fortune.

Fagu Purnima (Holi):
Celebrated in the month of February – March. This is colorful occasion when people smear each other with colored power and splash water balloons onto one another. The chir pole is erected at the Kathmandu Durbar Square gaily decorated with colorful flags. That is the formal announcement to everyday to hide all their good clothes and to join in the revelry. At the end of the festival, the chir is taken to down and burnt.

Chaite Dashin:
Celebrated in the month of March- April. Red vermilion powder, family blessing, and goat and duck sacrifice are essential to praise the victory of Ram, hero of the epic Ramayana, over the evil king Ravan. Mother goddess Durga, the source of all power, must be supplicated too for her powers that helped Ram achieve his victory.

Buddhist Festival:
Lhosar:
Lhosar is most impressively observed in the month of February by the Sherpa’s. They organize folk songs and dances on this occasion. These dances can be seen in Kathmandu, Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Bouddhanath in Kathmandu.

Buddha Jayanti:
Ever – benevolent Buddha was born in Nepal and the religion. His preaching is second most popular in the kingdom. On full moon day the lord’s birth enlightenment and salvation are applauded throughout the valley with celebrations. On this day, people reach the stupas before dawn go around them and give offering to the many Buddha images there.

Matayaa:
A local Buddhist festival of Patan observed in the month of august. A crowd of devotees playing music and dancing go around all the chaityas of the city from early morning till late afternoon.

Mani Rimdu:
It is a Sherpa dance drama performed in the khumbu region. It is held annually at Tenboche and chiwong monasteries during November or early December and at thami Gomba each May. Although usually held during the full moon this is sometimes scheduled at a more auspicious time. So inquire in Kathmandu and along the way to learn when it will take place. This colorful, uniquely Sherpa festival has its origins in ancient Tibetan theatrical genres. The performers are monk and the occasion is highlighted by much gaiety and feasting.

Dumje:
It is a birth celebration of Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) that takes place in June in the Khumbu region. It lasts for 6days. Eight families sponsor the event each year. It is a heavy financial burden, so this responsibility is rotated among the villagers. Separate celebrations take place in the villages of Namche bazzar, Khumjung and Thami.

Yartung:
It fall in the full moon August –  September ,local Tibetan villagers of the valley hold a great horse festival called yartung- a time of horse racing, gambling and general merriment. This is held on the race grounds of Ranipauwa, adjacent to the Muktinath pilgrimage site in the mustang district. Yarthung annually attracts the majority of Bhotiya people from throughout upper thak khola northern Mustang and neighboring Manang district (Over Thorung pass). The participants wear their traditional ethnic dress.

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