Dashain is the biggest and famous Hindu festival. In Nepal, 80% people celebrate this festival in the month of October and November beginning from the bright lunar fortnight and ending in the day of full moon. This festival is celebrated for fifteen days and most important days are 1st 7th 8th 9th and 10th. This festival is also known as Badadashain or Bijaya Dashami. Dashain signifies victory of goddesses over demons. This festival also represents the victory of good deeds over the evil. It is said that demon Mahisashur was defeated by goddess Durga and she is worshiped by people as the symbol of power, victory and divine mother. This festival also symbolizes truth, justice, virtue, good deeds prevail over deception, injustice, and wickedness.
Ghatasthapana is the first day of Dashain festival. It is the first day of bright half of the lunar calendar in the month of October. In this day, Kalash is filled with holy water and barley or corn seeds in the Kalash which is kept in the corner away from the sunlight. Seeds are grown five or six inches long yellow grass. This grass is known as Jamara.
Fulpati is the seventh day of Dashain festival. The pulpit (jamara, flowers, red tika, and some other things are brought from Gorkha district to Kathmandu after walking three day which is 179 km far from Kathmandu and parade is held in Kathmandu. The president/prime minister and other high official members observe the parade and fulpati are taken to Hanuman Dhoka royal palace.
Maha Ashtami is the eighth day of Dashain festival. In this day hundreds of thousands of goats, buffaloes, and docks are sacrificed for goddess Durga. Durga needs blood and blood is the symbol of its fertility. The night of this day is called Kal Ratri(black night). The old palace in Basantapur Hanuman Dhoka is opened throughout the whole night and sacrifices in every all courtyard. In this midnight 54 goats and 54 buffaloes are sacrificed.
Mahanavami is the ninth day of Dashain festival. This day is the last day of Navaratri. In this day also goats, docks and buffaloes are sacrificed. Normally, people worship the things such as cars, motorbikes, buses, machines, factories. The Traders, craftsman, mechanics worship their tools, equipment and vehicles. In this day, Taleju temple in Hanuman Dhoka is opened where devotees go and pray to goddess Taleju.
The tenth day of this festival is “Dashami”. This is the most important day of the festival. In this day rice, yogurt, the vermillion powder is mixed and they put Tika on the forehead which is the symbol of long life, good life, good work, successful, peace, and wisdom. Normally father and mother put tika and jamara to their son, daughters, and relatives. And sons, daughters give a small amount of money to their parents is called “Dakshina”. This system continues till full moon day in which period, families and relatives visit each other.
Playing cards, flying kites, bamboo swings, buying things, wearing clothes, eating meat and different other celebration are the main features of Dashain festival.
Tihar is the second biggest Hindu festival, which is celebrated in the month of October and November. Tihar is also known as Dipawali which is the festival of lights.
In the first day, people worship to Crow which symbolizes the messenger of gods. Crows are worshipped by the offering of sweets and rice.
In the second day, people worship dog symbolize the messenger of Lord Yamaraj. People worship to dog, offer garlands, and provide delicious food. People believe dogs are the security of houses too.
In the third day, people worship to cow symbolize the mother of the nation. People worship to cow by colors, garlands and feed them. And in the evening, the goddess Laxmi is worshipped which is the symbol of wealth and prosperity. In this day, houses are cleaned, doors and window are decorated and people light the candle. At night girls and women sing song and dance each other in all villages with musical instrument playing a historical game called Bhailo. They collect money for social work. From the third day, Tihar is famous for Deusi and Bhailo. The Deusi is mostly sung by boys and Bhailo by girls or women.
In the fourth day, there is a different kind of pujas depending on people’s culture. People worship to ox which plows the field. In Newar community on this day in the evening, people worship of self (Maha Puja). This day is the beginning of New Year in Newar community.
The fifth day is known as Bhai Tika where sisters put tika on the forehead of brothers to ensure long life and good relationship between them. Brothers give a small amount of money and gift to sisters and sisters give sweets and Dhaka Topi. In this day, brothers and sisters play cards and sing together too.
Teej is the most famous festival celebrated by Hindu women for the long life of husband and good relationship between them till their death. Unmarried Hindu women celebrate this festival to find a good husband. Teej is celebrated on the 3rd day of Bhadra Shukla Paksha according to Nepali lunar calendar. It generally celebrates in late August or Early September. Teej festival is dedicated to goddess Parvati associating her good relationship with her husband Shiva. It is the three-day celebration where Hindu Nepali women wear red Sarees and blouse, red tika, so on.
The first day of this festival is called “Dar Khane Din” where married and unmarried women gather and start singing, dancing mixed with Nepali folk songs. Normally married women go to “Maita” (mother-house) to celebrate this festival. In the evening of this day, women eat “Dar” until midnight and after midnight fasting starts.
The second day of this festival is called “Fasting day”. In this day all women wear a red dress with jewelry. They do not eat food, some women even do not drink water and they visit Shiva Temple. In Kathmandu women visit Pashupatinath Temple, they worship Shiva Lingam by flowers, coins, and colors.
The third day of this festival is called Rishi Panchami, where women get up early, get a bath, cleaned and do the puja to the Diyo (light) and goddess Parvati. Normally they pray to Parvati and Diyo in a group and after praying they start to eat food.
In this festival, the most common song “Tijako Rahara Aayo Barilla” Sing by all Hindu women.
Fagu Purnima (Color Festival/Holi)
Hindu People in Nepal every year one day in March celebrate a color festival called Holi. Whole town and villages are full of color in this day. Holi is the festival of color, friendship, and love. Holi in Nepal begins from one week before the main day. Holi is celebrated with colors, water, and music. People put color on forehead each other as the symbol of love. Holi welcomes the summer season too. The balloon filled with color and water is called “Lola” throw each other. Nowadays balloon, plastic, water guns are used to celebrate Holi. Holi is the official holiday in Nepal. Offices, government agencies are closed on this day of Fagu Purnima and next day in Tarai region.
After the death of Holika, people started to celebrate Holi. Praladh was the devotee of Lord Bishnu. One day his father Hiranyakasyapu wanted to kill him and he ordered his sister Holika to kill Praladh. Holika was blessed with a fireproof dress and when she was going to kill Praladh, at the same time, Lord Bishnu burnt Holia and he rescued Praladh. Holika Dahan means the end of Holika became Holi. People started to celebrate the end of Holika by colors.
Janai Purnima/Raksha Bandhan
Janai Purnima is celebrated by Hindu people all over the world. Janai Purnima is sacred thread festival. In this day Hindu men change their old thread to new thread. This thread is only given to men during a ceremony called Bratabandha and each year in Janai Purnima. Janai is a cotton string worn which commence a boy into manhood commands to follow the religion and path of truth. Men should wear Janai across the chest after listening to the mantra from Guru during Bratabandha festival. Janai is a sacred thread and Purnima is full moon day which celebrates in the month of August. This festival is the festival of purity and security.
In the same day, people tie yellow thread in their right hand from Guru. To get free from their sin this festival is celebrated in Hindu culture of Nepal and India. Guru also blesses the people having a long life, good work, peace, prosperity, and happiness in the family. Raksha means protection and Bandhan men's bond, this bound will protect against evil. Male-female, children old people get tied a "doro" (thread) around their wrist which brings them good luck and truth.
Loshar is one of the popular festivals in Nepal which is celebrated by many Buddhist communities from mountainous regions like Sherpa, Gurung, and Tamang. The term ‘Losar’ is coined by two words. One is ‘Lo’ meaning of year and another is ‘Sar’ meaning have new. The etymological meaning of Loshar is New Year. There are three kinds of Loshar.
1: Gyalpo Loshar
The new year of Sherpa people is Gyalpo Loshar. This New Year is similar to the New Year observed in many Asian countries like Tibet, Japan, Mongolia, and China. The Tibetan calendar is made up of twelve Lunar months and Loshar begins on the first day of the first month. Gyalpo Loshar is the celebration of Tibetan New Year. This festival is celebrated almost one week but three days are most important. In the first day, they drink Chhang which is Tibetan beer. In the second day is the day of New Year. In the third day, all people becoming together sing, dance and having feasts.
During this festival, Mantras are chanted which represent the struggle between demon and god performed in the monasteries. They wear a new dress; houses and roads are clean, having new hope and aspiration. They cook the special soup made from meat, rice, cheese, potatoes, green pepper, and radish. In this New Year, they visit the monastery, ready holy book, chant mantras, and gifts to the monk.
2: Sonam Loshar
Sonam Loshar is mostly celebrated by Tamang ethnic group of Nepal. This Loshar symbolizes the beginning of New Year celebrates in the month of Magh (January). Tamang people count year with the association of symbols of 12 different animals which start with rad and ends with Boar. They clean house, appear in nice dress go to monasteries, stupas to perform their dance. They decorate windows, doors, with colorful papers and clothes with new hope, aspiration, long live, happiness, and wealth. They cook chicken, and ducks in this festival. They perform Tamang Selo dance with a musical instrument called Damfu. They look beautiful in their traditional dress. Tamang Selo music is one of the very famous music of Nepal.
3: Tamu Loshar
Tamu Loshar is celebrated by Gurung community of Nepal which is the celebration of New Year in their tradition. They celebrate this festival in the month of December/January. Gurung people wear their traditional dress; get together with love and greetings. In Kathmandu, all Gurung people assemble in public places, sung, dance and perform their traditional cultural activities. Gurung people are indigenous inhabitants of west-central part of Nepal. Gurungs are the symbol of their bravery and cultural wealth. Most of the Gurkha armies who fought in the Second World War are Gurungs. During this Festival they have nice welcomeness to their relatives by giving traditional foods such as Roti and Achar. They celebrate this festival having peace, prosperity, happiness, long life and wisdom. They are rich in their culture. Rodhighar, Sorathi, Ghantu, and Dhori are their performing activities in public show.