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Festivals in Nepal

Indra Jatra

The festival of Indra Jatra is dedicated to the ‘Lord of Heaven’ Indra.  Legend has it that Indra was captured by the people of Kathmandu while fetching night jasmine for his mother. Once the people realized that their prisoner was no other than Lord Indra, they released him immediately. Lord Indra’s mother blessed the city for releasing her son and because of the blessing it is said that Kathmandu receives enough dew even in winters for cultivation. Held in the Basanta...

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Rato Machhindranath Jatra

One of the most significant festivals in Patan is dedicated to the valley’s rain god, Rato Machhindranath Jatra. A special chariot is made out of bamboo and wood and the idol of Rato Machhindranath is placed inside the chariot by a Panneju priest. Devotees pull the chariot to different localities in Patan. He is believed to have been brought from Assam when Kathmandu was suffering from a long drought. He blessed the valley with rain and is thus known as the valley’s rain god. The ...

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Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra is an important day in the Nepalese festival calendar as on this where everyone is allowed to make fun of anything or anyone. According to a popular legend, when king Pratap Malla lost his son he was very worried for his grief-stricken wife. He then announced that every family who had lost a member would follow a procession. The procession was to follow a cow, as cows are believed to lead souls to the other world. People dress up ridiculously and jokes are made so that people forget...

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Bisket Jatra

Bisket Jatra is a chariot pulling festival celebrated in Bhaktapur, one of the three medieval kingdoms in Kathmandu Valley.  The festival is celebrated on the first month of the Nepali calendar. There was once a princess in Bhaktapur whose husband kept dying on the wedding bed. This was a big problem for the royal family. Finally, a prince who was blessed by the goddess Bhadrakali decided to marry the princess. On the wedding night, he found a pair of serpents crawling out of the princes...

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Buddha Jayanti

Buddha Jayanti celebrates the birth anniversary of ‘light of Asia’, Gautam Buddha. Buddha was born around 563 BC in Kapilvastu, Lumbini. This is an auspicious day not only for Buddhists but also for people all around the world. In Kathmandu, people visit Swayambhunath, Boudanath and other Buddhist shrines around the valley. Butter lamps are lit which make these holy sites more magical in the evening. Large gatherings of monks and nuns are seen in the streets and people sit down to...

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Somewhere in between late February and early March, the festival of Fagu Purnima/Holi is celebrated in Nepal with much fanfare. It is also known as the festival of colors and people celebrate this festival by throwing different colored powder and water at each other. The festival celebrates the death of ‘Holika’ a female demoness who tried to kill Prahlad(a devotee of Hindu god Vishnu). Holika tried to kill Prahlad by burning his body. But Lord Vishnu intervened and the demoness e...

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Tihar is celebrated somewhere in between the months of October and November. Known as the festival of lights, the five-day long festival is dedicated to Goddess Laxmi (the ‘Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity’). Nepalese people clean their houses, beautiful decorations are made and oil lamps are lit in the traditional way. This is done with anticipation that Goddess Laxmi will visit their homes and bless them. The festival also honors animals like crows, cows, and dogs as they have a...

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Somewhere in Late September to early October people of Nepal indulge in the biggest festival of the year- Bijaya Dashami. Throughout Nepal, people of all caste and creed come together to celebrate this 15-day long festival with much pomp and show. Dashain celebrates the victory of good over evil. Legend has it that Goddess Durga killed the terrible demon Mahisasur and freed the earth from evil. The markets are filled with shoppers buying new clothes, gifts and luxuries. All the houses are cle...

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