Nepal is a diverse country with many ethnic categories and religious influences. Many exciting holidays and festivals occur throughout the year across the land. All ages take part in the excitement with activities that have ties to ancient civilizations. The sights and sounds of festivals in Nepal are a must-see for visitors and we can get you to all the important places on the correct dates.
The following are some of Nepal’s most important and largest celebrations and festivals of major importance.
Shivaratri occurs on the new moon from February to March
Shivaratri honors Hindu deity Shiva and takes several days of preparation and celebration. All-night bonfires take place at Shiva temples in Nepal and India. The greatest gathering is at Pashupatinath Shrine, a World Heritage Site of Kathmandu Valley. Pilgrims come from far away to participate in the festival with many rituals and activities.
Losar is also known as Gyalpo Losar together with Monlam December, January, and February
Losar is a New Year celebration for ethnicities with origins in Tibet and along with a prayer ceremony known as Monlam, it lasts two weeks with much activity at Buddhist monasteries. Kathmandu’s World Heritage Site of Baudhnath is very active.
Tamu Losar is known as the New Year for people of the Gurung ethnicity and occurs at the end of December. Sonam Losar is celebrated by Tamang people at mid-January. Losar is a time of much socializing with singing, dancing, partying and banquets.
Holi usually occurs in March or April
Holi is a festival that marks the beginning of spring. Many people celebrate by throwing water and colored powder at each other. It can be very lively and also a way to cool off in the hot season while feeling the excitement of youth.
Ghore Jatra usually occurs in March or April
This event has origins from the Newar ethnicity and takes place at two famous temples near Tundikhel Parade Ground with horse riding and other eventful parades.
Buddha Purnima usually occurs on the full moon in May and is considered the birthday of Buddha
Siddhartha Gautam was born in Lumbini, Nepal on a full moon in May. Nepal is the land of his birth and across the country, ceremonies take place to honor this day, especially large are the events at Kathmandu’s Baudhnath and Swayambhunath shrines.
Tiji usually occurs in May and June
This festival occurs in the desert highlands of Upper Mustang. It is a three-day celebration which includes dancing, socializing and feasting. The largest gatherings are at monasteries in Upper Mustang’s headquarters of Lo Manthang.
Janai Purnima is on the Full Moon of July or August
On this occasion, certain castes change the sacred cord that they wear around their chests and wrists. It is also an auspicious time to visit high mountain pilgrimage sites like Gosainkunda Lake and an auspicious time when shamans renew their powers.
Gai Jatra takes place on the New Moon of July or August
This festival includes parades in the old royal squares of the Valley. It is a celebration of the sacred cows that guide the dead to heaven. Many participants dress up in funny outfits and wear face paint to entertain onlookers and give the festival a happy feeling.
Dasain is Nepal’s most important and largest festival and usually takes place in September or October
Dasain marks the victory of Good over Evil. The festival occurs at the end of monsoon during harvest time and it is important to show gratitude. Most families get together at this time. The tenth day of the festival is the most important and is called Vijaya Dasami and is a celebration of Durga’s victory over Evil.
Tihaar is also Deepawali called and occurs after Dasain in October and November
This is a five-day festival and a time when the city lights up with candles and other decorations all over town. The lights are symbolic of wisdom. For the ethnic Newars, Tihaar is the beginning of their New Year.