Top 5 Popular Festivals of Nepal In 2024

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  • Last Updated on Nov 21, 2023

Table of Contents

1. Dashain / Vijaya Dashami: The Biggest Festival

Undoubtedly, the Dashain festival is the major and biggest festival in Nepal. It is the most widely celebrated Hindu festival in Nepal, as 80 percent of the people are of the Hindu religion. This is also the longest festival celebrated for 15 days.

How is Dashain celebrated in Nepal?

Ghatasthapana, the first day of Dashain marks the beginning of this festival. Men and Women worship different avatars of the Hindu Goddess Durga for eight days. Maha Ashtami is the 8th day of the Dashain festival. On this day, people sacrifice animals like buffaloes, ducks, goats, and hens to Goddess Kali and take the meat as ‘Prasad’ (holy food). On the tenth day, people receive Tika (a mixture of yogurt, rice, and vermilion ) and Jamara along with blessings from the elders and this continues for the next five days.

The Dashain festival in Nepal is a ceremony of reunion and fun. People living far away from home or the country, revisit their homes and get together with their families. Also, parents buy new clothes for their children. People enjoy eating mouth-watering foods and playing a lot of games including cards. People invite guests, organize feasts, visit their relatives’ houses, fly kites, build bamboo swings, and involve themselves in various entertaining activities.

  • Significance of Dashain: Nepalese groups celebrate Dashain to rejoice in the victory of good over evil. According to Hindu mythology, on the tenth day of Dashain, goddess Durga killed the demon named Mahishashura who used to spread terror in the Devaloka.
  • Best places to celebrate Dashain: All Over Nepal
  • When is Dashain celebrated: September to October (Solar Calendar), Aswin/Kartik (Nepal Calendar)
  • Dashain 2022: This year, Tihar will be celebrated on October 5, 2022.
  • Things to do in Dashain:- Playing Kites, Cards, and Swings, Visiting temples, and Taking blessings from elders.

2. Tihar / Deepawali: Festival of Light

Also known as Diwali or Deepawali, Tihar, is the second biggest festival in Nepal. It is a festival of lights as all the people as people celebrate Tihar making their houses glow with eye-catching lights and playing Deusi Bhailo.

Do you Know? Nepal is the only country where dogs are worshipped for their loyalty. It is called Kukur(Dog) Tihar and falls on one of the 5 days of Tihar.

A good part about Tihar is that it comes right after Dashain. Tihar comes in a little while after Dashain. When the night falls, the whole Kathmandu valley turns into a sea of lights.

How is Tihar celebrated in Nepal?

During this festival, people will honor crows, dogs, and cows as well as Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and luck in the Hindu world. Tihar is also well-known as the festival of lights as people lit up numerous candles and festive lanterns for the Goddess of Laxmi.

Likewise to Dashain, Tihar is also equally important in Nepal. It is celebrated for five days and bestowed with the traditional cultural characteristics of Nepal. And each Tihar holiday has its saying. The first day of Tihar is to worship crows, “the messenger of death”. People often sprinkle rice on the ground for crows’ pecking. The second day of Tihar is to honor dogs, “the guardian of the god of death”. The third day is to welcome the Goddess of wealth and Goodluck ‘Laxmi’. The fourth day is to thank cows. The fifth day is to place Tihar quotes (Tihar Tika) to brothers and present Tihar gifts for sisters.

  • Significance of Tihar: Like Dashain, Tihar is also celebrated for the victory of good over evil. People worship the goddess Laxmi along with the avatars of different gods.
  • Best places to celebrate Tihar: All Over Nepal (But, you can witness Tihar lights more in the town than villages)
  • When is Tihar celebrated: October to November (Solar Calendar), Aswin/Kartik (Nepal Calendar)
  • Tihar 2022: This year, Tihar will be celebrated on October 27, 2022.
  • Things to do in Tihar:- Play Deusi Bhailo, Play Cards and Dice (Jhandi Burja in Nepali), Firecrackers, and eat local foods.

3. Holi / Fagu Purnima : Festival of Color

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, is one of the most popular festivals in Nepal. It takes place on the full moon day in Nepali Fagu month (February to March in Solar Calendar) Following Dashain and Tihar festivals. It indicates the end of winter and the beginning of Spring.

How is Holi celebrated in Nepal?

Holi in Nepal is celebrated by throwing each other with dry colored powder colored water to express their sincere blessings and good wishes. Different people or organizations host programs dedicated to Holi. Also, people celebrate the Holi festival by throwing balloons filled with water

The best places to experience Holi in Nepal is busy tourist spot – Thamel, Durbar squares, and other main centers. In Durbar Square, Nepalis and visitors indulge in singing, dancing, and sprinkling varieties of powders and water. Everyone’s face is filled with festive joy. Even the air turns to be colorful. At this moment, cameras, mobile phones, and selfie sticks have become essential tools to record your happy Holi moments.

Some Tips for Nepal Holi Festival that you might want :

  1. White T-shirts, cheap pants and slippers are highly recommended to wear. After the festival, you can either chuck them away or keep them as Holi reminders.
  2. It’s recommended to prepare a raincoat for the camera. And the easiest way is to cover it tightly with plastic wraps
  3. Shampoo and Facial cleanser are the essentials to clean off the paint.
  4. If you just want to observe this colorful festival, the steps of the temples around Durbar Square are the best spots for photography.
  • Significance of Holi in Nepal: People celebrate Holi to welcome Spring and say goodbye to Winter.
  • Best places to celebrate the Holi festival in Nepal: Thamel and Basantapur in Kathmandu, Pokhara Lake Side, and Major cities in Terai.
  • When is Holi celebrated: March (Solar Calendar) / Falgun/Chaitra (Nepali Calendar)
  • Holi 2022: This year, Tihar will be celebrated on March 17, 2022.
  • Things to do in Holi:- Throw colors and water at each other, Dance, and party.

4. Maha Shivaratri: Honouring Shiva

Shivaratri festival is a Hindu festival celebrated with devotion and religious commitment in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of the Hindu Trinity (Three Deities). Maha Shivaratri, which translates to “The Night of Shiva”. It falls in every lunar month on its 13th night/ 14th day, but once a year in late winter and the new moon of February-March in the English calendar.

In Shiva Ratri in Nepal, people also smoke weed or cannabis as a gift from Lord Shiva. But be careful, Weed is illegal in Nepal, and police often arrest people if found taking it or involved in buying and selling of weeds.

How is Shivaratri celebrated in Nepal?

It is a major festival in Hinduism, but that is solemn and marks a remembrance of “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in life and the world. Hindu people of the Asian Region celebrate this festival. Celebrating the festival of Maha Shivaratri devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva Lingam to appease Lord Shiva.

There are various fascinating legends related to the festival of Maha Shivaratri. According to one of the most popular legends, Maha Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Some believe that it was on the auspicious night of Shivaratri that Lord Shiva performed “Tandava”, the dance of primal creation, preservation, and destruction. Another popular Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was on Maha Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as Maha Shivaratri – the grand night of Shiva.

Gathering in Pashupatinath

Hundreds of thousands of devotees visit Pashupatinath Temple in Shivaratri, one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus and a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. Pashupatinath is considered the Guardian and Protector of the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal.

Devotees chant “Om Namah Shivay” and various other Shiva-related chants all night praying for light over darkness. Tourists are seen enjoying the ambiance with curiosity, as colorful and naked sadhus are seen meditating, smoking weeds, posing for photographs, and interacting with disciples.

Special attendance camps are set in the courtyards of the temples. Children are seen gathering donations from passersby on this day preparing for holy meals and bonfires in celebration of the special night.

  • Significance of Shiva Ratri in Nepal: People celebrate Shivaratri to honor Lord Shiva. People worship Lord Shiva as the Lord of destruction.
  • Best places to celebrate the Shiva Ratri festival in Nepal: Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, and other Hindu temples
  • When is Shiva Ratri celebrated: March (Solar Calendar) / Falgun (Nepali Calendar)
  • Shiva Ratri 2022: This year, Tihar will be celebrated on March 1, 2022.
  • Things to do in Shiva Ratri:- Observe Hindu devotees, Fasting,

5. Indra Jatra: Street Festival of Kathmandu

The eight-day-long Indra Jatra festival falls in September and is one of the most electrifying and valued festivals of the Newari community of the Kathmandu Valley. This also marks the commencing of a month-long festival season of autumn.

The history of Indra Jatra dates long back to the 10th century. The former Nepali king Gunakamadeva started it to celebrate the founding of the capital city, Kathmandu. This festival initiates with the erection of a wooden pole made of pine at Basantapur Square in front of the old Hanuman Dhoka Palace.

How is Indra Jatra celebrated in Nepal?

For the pole-raising ceremony, hundreds of spectators gather at the Palace Square and the surrounding temples. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out in a procession through the main streets and alleys of Kathmandu.

Masked dancers known as ‘Lakhay’ take to the streets almost every evening and go along with loud drums. The festival commemorates the time when Indra came down from heaven in human form to look for an herb.

Each night of Indra Jatra the shrines and ancient palace buildings around Kathmandu Durbar Square are radiated with oil wicks. Each night on the platform in front of the temple of the Living Goddess, there is an enactment portraying the ten earthly incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

In the afternoon of the day before the full moon, overjoyed crowds gather near Hanuman Dhoka Palace for the long-awaited Living Goddess’ chariot procession to catch a glimpse of the revered little Newari girl who has been worshipped as Kumari.

The chariot of the Kumari followed by two other smaller chariots carrying a symbol of Ganesh and Bhairav is taken to different parts of the old Kathmandu. The festival of Indra Jatra ends with the lowering of the (lingam) pole bearing Indra’s flag amidst religious ceremonies Nepalese New Year

  • Significance of Indra Jatra in Nepal: People celebrate Indra Jatra to honor Indra, king of heaven.
  • Best places to celebrate Indra Jatra festival in Nepal: Basantapur,
  • When is Indra Jatra celebrated: September (Solar Calendar), Bhada/ Ashoj(Nepali Calendar)
  • Indra Jatra 2022: This year, Shivaratri will be celebrated on September 9, 2022.
  • Things to do in Indra Jatra:- See Chariots being pulled by people, See masked dances, and Pulu Kisi.

This is our list of 5 major Nepalese festivals that are widely celebrated with the celebrations time, things to do in festivals of Nepal, along with the importance of festivals for the Nepalese people.

How can All Nepal Hiking help tourists to celebrate the top 5 major Nepalese festivals?

If you are willing to partake in the festivals or take a cultural trip to Nepal, All Nepal Hiking would love to welcome you in Nepal and show you around the diverse cultures, customs, traditions, and festivals we have. You will get to enjoy the streets of Kathmandu or other parts and see cheerfulness in the eyes of locals under the background of stunning natural and cultural exquisiteness.

We aim to make your stay in Nepal, a comfortable and memorable one. Feel Free to share this article and help more people know about the beauty of Nepalese culture.

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