Nepal is country of Diversity. Here we find linguistic diversity, religious diversity, cultural diversity, regional diversity, ethnic diversity etc. With the diverse characters of Nepali Society there are several festivals in Nepal Society. These festival are mostly related to the religion, ethnicity and regional diversity. The entire year is a series of festival in Nepal. The celebrations marks religious events, life cycle ceremonies. Each and every caste, religion, ethnic group, ecological region etc have their own feast and festivals. Some of the common and National festival of Nepal are as follows:
Dashain is the most important festivals of Nepali society. Dashain is the most auspicious and joyous times of the year for Nepali society. It is celebrated throughout the country by all caste and creeds but the way of celebrating may differ from the Hindu community. It is the celebration of Goddess Durga who is supposed to save people from the evils forces. It is celebrated for about fifteen days in later September or early October. People celebrate Nawa Ratri symbolizing nine days of war against demons fought by Durga in different manifestations. Dashain begins with Ghatasthapana, meaning the establishing of holy water vessel which represents Goddess Durga, where people plant Jamara for the tenth day of Dashain Vijayadashami. Fulpati is the seventh day of Dashain which refers to the sacred flowers and leaves of plants which are offered to the Goddess Devi. On this day Kalash filled with a bouquet of tall flowers, banana stalks, holy leaves, and sugarcane tied with red cloth is brought to Dashain Ghar at Hanuman Dhoka from Gorkha Palace and fulpati is celebrated. The eighth day of Dashain is known as the Kal Ratri which is also known as Maha Ashtami in the common parlance. Hundreds of buffalo, goats, sheep, chickens and ducks are sacrificed at the Durga temples at night.
The Newars of Kathmandu Valley call this day “shako teak”, meaning ‘more you kill, the more you gain’. In hopes of prefessional success people worships different weapons and other tolls at this day. The ninth day of Dashain is known as the Maha Nawami, the last day of Naw Ratri. People visits to Durga temple and offer sacrifice of animals on this day. The celebration of Dashain reaches its zenith on the tenth day called Viayadashami, the great tenth day of victory. It is seen as the victory of virtue over the evils, glorifying the power of Goddess. It is said to be the celebration of the great victory of Lord Ram against Ravana. On this day all the people who celebrate dashain visit to their elders for the Tika and Jamara blessing.
Tihar: The festival of Light and flowers
Tihar is the national festival of Nepal and it is the second largest festival of Nepali Society. Tihar is characterized as the close relation between animals and human beings on the one side and heartily and pure relation with brother and sister on the other hand. This festivals falls during the harvest season generally in the month of Kartik. Literally ‘Tihar’ means a row of lamps and light displayed. It is the festival of worshipping crow, dogs, cow, ox and brother respectively. Laxmi Pooja fall on the third day of this festival. Every home, temple and others are decorated by the colourful lights and flowers in the evening of Laxmi Pooja. Deepamalika are placed at every window, Verandah, door, dhikuti, Jato, Dhiki etc of the home. Every people worship goddesses Laxmi’s idol in the evening. She is called the goddesses of wealth. After the Laxmi pooja people (generally Females) begins to play vailo.
The fourth day of Yamapanchaka is the Goru (ox) Tihar. This festival is celebrated worshipping the bull oxen and Gobardhan Mountain. It is believed that the Gobardhan parbat was the grazing land and it was full of green grass. This signify the pastoral importance in our agricultural society. The last day of Yampanchaka is the Vai teeka. In this day every brothers are worshipped by their sisters and receives blessing and best wishes for their log and healthy life and future prosperity. At the same time Tika and marigold are given by brothers and they give the gift to their sister’s cash or goods.
Holi: the festival of colour
Holi is an ancient Hindu festival named after the Holika demon. According to Hindu myth, Pralahad was a devotee of god Vishnu and was a religious minded. But his father Hiranyakashyapu did not like his son’s love of Vishnu. So, King wanted to kill Pralahad but could not do so because Vishnu shaved him every time. The colourful festival begins with the erection of ceremonial pole called chir at Basantapur, the southern part of Hanumandhoka palace. Holi comes with the message of mutual harmony and friendship in the beginning of Basanta Ritu. It is celebrated in the remembrance of victory of virtue over evils force but now a days it has got negative aspects especially among the youths.
Nepal is a multi-religious and multi ethnic society and there is also diversity in feast and festivals also. There are different festivals in multi-religious Nepali society. Lhosar is an important festivval of Nepali society. Lho means year or age and sar means new or fresh. The word Lhosar means New Year or the beginning of new era. Specilly Lhosar is celebrated by the Tamang, Gurung and Sherpa community of Nepal. There are different types of lhosar that is Tamu ,sonam,gyalbo lhosar and each lhosar is held in a different date every year.
The Lhosar is celebrated by visiting monasteries and stupas where special rituals with mask dance are performed to drive away evil spirits. Lhosar signify the change of the year. It is believed that the Lohsar day is the day when human beings were created. Gurung, Sherpa, Tamang and others celebrate Lohsar in different way and in different date. Buddhist community pray for peace, friendship, and welfare of human being on this day. Buddhist community offer feast on this day and they also sing and dance on this spcial day.
Chhath Puja is celebrated by Hindu in Terai region of Nepal. It is celebrated on the 6th day of the lunar fortnight of Kartik. This festival is dedicated to god Sun. The Sun, source power of nature, considered the god of energy and lord of the life-force, is worshiped in Chhath to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. Hindu people believe sun helps to cure many illness and diseases. Sun is considered as source of healing too. Sun is also considered as token of stability and prosperity. Therefore, people worship sun to ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, and relatives.
Christmas is another important festival of Nepal society and it is specially celebrated by the Christian community in Nepal. It is the birth day celebration of Lord ‘Ishamasiha’ who was in Jerusalem. It is celebrated on 25th December of every years. People who follow the Christianity decorates the Christmas tree on this day. Followers of Christianity go the Churches on this day and celebrate Christmas by exchanging good wishes to friends and other relatives. On this day followers of this festival organize a feast, sing and dance joyfully.
Teej is another festival of Nepali society and it is generally celebrated by Nepalese women. It is celebrated by Nepali women, for the long life of her husband and long and firm relationship between them until the death this life and all lives to come. It is observed for marital Happiness, well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul. Most of Nepalese women wear red dress and dance in different temple of Lord shiva on this day. Women sit around the Lingam, the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva and offer flowers, sweets and coins. They pray for their husband’s longevity, progress and prosperity. They chant religious hymns, recalling the ordeal parvati, shiva’s consort, had gone through to win the heart of the master of all living beings.
Generally Teej is celebrated three days in Bhadra shukla Pakshya. On the first day celebration of three day celebration, group of women both married and unmarried congregate at one place and have a feast which is called Dar. The next day women generally wear crimson saree, singing and dancing in the public place and worship lord shiva. The third and last day of the festival is called Rishi Panchami, which is the fifth day of the waxing moon. On this day women who have undergone to agonizing (extremely painful) fast pay homage (oath) to various deities situated bank of sacred rivers. After holy bath in the rivers, they use a piece of Dattiwan to sprinkle holy water all over their bodies three hundred sixty times. After the bathing they conduct the worship.