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 sure of being at the time for one or more special events. Some of the major and interesting festivals are presented below
Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The anniversary of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death is observed on a full-moon day in May every year. People celebrate the occasion by paying homage to Buddha. Lumbini and Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath in Kathmandu are thronged with devotees during Buddha Jayanti.
Gai Jatra is an eight-day carnival of dancing, singing, mirth and laughter. The festival usually falls in Julay or August. As part of the festival family members of those who died in the past year send people dressed as cow to parade on the streets.
Maha Shiva Ratri
Shiva Ratri which literally means the Night of Lord Shiva, is celebrated by all Hindus in the month of February. Religious fairs are organized at several places. Thousands of devotees throng Pashupatinath Temple for a 'darshan' of Lord Shiva on this day.
Dashain is the great festival of Neplese People. The entire population of Nepal celebrates the festival that falls between mid September to mid October. Nepalis celebrate Dashai by buying new clothes, eating good food and visiting family members. Card games are very popular during this time. Various fairs and celebration events are organized during the Dashain fortnight in both villages and cities.
Tihar is the festival of lights. This five-day celebrations of Tihar fall in October or November generally a fortnight after Dashain and are partaken with equal joy by all Nepalis. Houses are illuminated at night and special sweets of different varieties are prepared. Tihar, like Dashain, is a series of family events. Goddess Lakshmi is remembered and offered worship on Lakshmi Puja Day.
Dumji is one of the sared ceremonies of the Sherpa community. It is celebrated in the month of July. Dumji is celebrated by the Sherpas in Namche region. The Sherpas of Kathmandu and Helambu regions also participate in dancing on this day.
Lhosar which falls on a new-moon day in February is celebrated by Tibetan-speaking population. Songs and dances are organized in Kumbu region of Nepal. On this day devotees throng Bouddhanath in Kathmandu for celebration and worsh.