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Nepal

Fun and festivities in Nepal - celebrations, festivals and cultural events

Nepal is a poor country in terms of living standards, but this is a rich country when it comes to holidays. There are so many different celebrations in this country. The majority of holidays and festivals depend on the lunar calendar, and so their dates are different. Only several holidays have a fixed date. These are Rastraya Prajatantra Dibas (the National Democracy Day, February 19), the International Women’s Day (March 8), New Year (April 14), Loktantra Diwas (Democracy Day, April 25), and the Day of the Republic (May 28).
Nepal is located in a mainland territory between India and China. The country doesn’t have access to the sea but it has large mountain areas, 9 …
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The calendar in Nepal is very unusual. Local months can range from 28 to 32 days. When it is January and the beginning of February in most of the world, the Nepalese have Magh, February-March is the time for Falgun, and March-April is called Chaitra in Nepal. This is not the only difference. The calendar in Nepal is 57 years ahead of the calendar in Europe and America. The Nepalese New Year, also known as Nava Varsha, starts on the first day of Baisakh – April 14 in Julian/Gregorian calendar.
The Nepalese are religious people, and so no wonder why many celebrations and holidays are connected with religion in this country. Hinduism and Buddhism are the main religions in Nepal. Worshippers of Buddha and Shiva never argue, and so many tourists might feel that these religions complement each other. This is true and this is one of the peculiarities of the Nepalese culture. An interesting fact: the same holiday can be celebrated in different ways in cities and small settlements of Nepal. For instance, the New Year celebrations in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and small Thimi are not the same. Dashain is one of the most popular and colorful holidays across the country. Copyright www.orangesmile.com
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The central square is the best place to watch New Year celebrations in Bhaktapur. The square becomes crowded in the afternoon – locals, the army in the parade uniforms, and small orchestras that play music in different parts of the square. The event reaches its peak when several dozens of happy teenagers pull long ropes to bring a moving pagoda to the square. There is a bigger pagoda for adults. Hundreds of people follow the festive procession. The pagodas move on the main streets of the city, and adults can pull their pagoda until the next morning.
In Kathmandu, the procession also has palanquins with two gods - Bhadrakali and Mahendranath. The palanquins stop at some moment, and two parts of the city compete with each other. The winners get a right to keep the images of the gods until the end of the holiday. After that, the procession moves to a long pole that is higher than 20m. The pole must be dropped to the ground. After this, the New Year begins officially. In Thimi, pilgrims lie on the ground near the temple after sunset, light up torches and oil lamps, and put them nearby. Even though the rituals are different in different parts of Nepal, the celebration has one thing in common – people cook festive food and prepare gifts for their family members.
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One of the main holidays in Nepal, Dashain, is celebrated after the end of the rain season, in September-October. The festivities last 10 days. The Nepalese believe that people can banish 10 sins during the 10-day event. The festival is dedicated to the goddess Durga who purified the world from evil. Under the name Taleju, the goddess favors the royal house of Nepal. In Kathmandu, there is even an incarnation of the goddess in the human body – Kumari. The living goddess resides in a special three-story palace. Every night of the festival is dedicated to one of the incarnations.
On the first day of the event, Ghatasthapana, local people plant barley seeds in small pots and water them every day using a small sacred pot called kalash. The sprouts (jamara) are considered a blessing of the goddess. Colorful street celebrations take place every night. Dancing performances with actors dressed as Shiva and various goddesses traditionally attract many viewers. On the seventh day, the royal family arrives in the capital followed by the royal guard. The family brings their jamara and kalash. This event is always very crowded. On the tenth day, the culmination of the holiday, the goddess Durga defeats evil.
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In May, the country celebrates the birthdays of Gautama Buddha. Buddha was born in Nepal, in the village of Lumbini. Nowadays, this settlement attracts numerous pilgrims. It is believed that all prayers are two times more powerful on this day. At the same time, all bad deeds are twice more malicious. That is why people pray and try to do only good on Buddha’s birthday. Holi Festival is an ancient celebration (more than 2,000 years) that takes place in spring (February-March) for 8 days. The festival coincides with the blossom period, and so this is a cheerful and optimistic holiday. During Holi, people traditionally throw colored powder in the air and splash each other with water.
In Nepal, many holidays last more than one day, so it doesn’t matter when you visit this country, you will certainly have an opportunity to participate at least in one of them. Of course, some holidays are not national and are organized for tourists. The Festival of Elephants in Chitwan is one of these events. During this festival, visitors can watch elephant racing and elephant football. These are very exciting and unusual activities. By the way, tourists can try bathing in the river on an elephant at any time of the year – this popular amusement is available all year round.
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