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Feast and festival in Nepal

Feasts and festivals:

Buddha Jayanti (Fulmoon day of Baishaga month):

The spring full moon day when the Buddha sakamuni was born is celebrated as Buddha Jayanti. The day is thrice blessed since it commemorates the three important events in the Buddha’s life: his birth, the day he attained enlightenment, and the day he passed into Nirvana.

 

In Kathmandu, celebration marking Buddha Jayanti: are concentrated around the stupa of Swayambhunath, the most sacred among all Buddhist monuments in Nepal. Devotees gather from early morning to worship and walk around the shrine in ritual circumambulation. Offerings of butter lamps, rice, coins and flower, and prayer ceremonies go on throughout the day. Religious scroll paintings and images of the Buddha are put on display.

The Buddha Jayanti celebrations are equally fascinating at Buddha is mounted on an elephant at the head of a procession that circles the stupa and then proceeds to another stupa at Chabahil . Large symbolic lotus petals are painted on the stupa with yellow dye of saffron. Prayer flags flutter in the air, and as night falls, the stupa and the monasteries are illuminated with the light thousands of butter lamps.

Gai Jatra (one day after the Sharawan full moon):

Literally meaning cow festival, this is a jovial festival that lasts for eight days. Dancing, singing, pantomime, anything that cause mirth and laughter is part of the festival’s highlights. On the first day of the festival, people whose family members have died during the year parade a decorated cow around the city together their young ones dressed as cows or hermits.

The sacred animal helps departed souls cross the cosmic ocean in their journey into the after world. Family members join the cow procession to ensure smooth passage for their loved ones because the gates of the after world are open only on this day.

Gai Jatra sees the streets of the three cities of the valley filled with musical bands, children in costumes made to resemble cows, and cows gaily ornamented with colorful paper fans tied to their horns and garlands of flowers around their necks. People stand at the crossroads to offer sweets and drinks to the participants. In Kathmandu, the festival route passes by the Durar Square, so this is a good place to observe this festival.

Humorous and satirical affairs are held to cheer the bereaved families. There are street events and stage shows making fun of government officials and some people come dressed out like lunatics roaming around the city to make people laugh. In Nepal’s pre democracy days, only on this particular day were newspapers permitted to criticize the function of the government.

In Kathmandu, the bereaved families proceed along the festival route individually. In Patan, all the participants first gather at the Durbar Square and then mve out together. However, it is the celebration in Bhaktapur that is the most interesting. Tall bamboo contraptions, wrapped in cloth and topped with horns fashioned of straw, are carried around the city in memory of the dead. Palanquins bearing caly figures of cows are also paraded around. One prime attraction during this festival are processions of weirdly made up Ghintang –Gishi dancers gyrating to the rhythm of boisterous music. Gai Jatra is also celebrated in all other towns of Nepal where there are large Newar communities.

Teej (women festival):

It happen on beginning of Sept: A blissful conjugal life, progress and prosperity for her husband, good fortune for herself , and purification of her own body and soul: these are what an ideal Hindu woman is supposed to aspire for.

Teej, the lively festival exclusively for womenfolk, is a spiritual endeavor
towards the realization of their aspirations. For an unmarried woman,
compliance with the age - old tradition ensure a good loving and caring
husband.

The festival combines both sumptuous feasts and tormenting fasts. On the
first day of the 3 days celebration, groups of women, both married and unmarried including male of the house, congregate at one place in their finest attires. Amidst laughter, songs and music, the grand feasts begin. The merry making goes on till midnight, from which time onwards the
women undergo a 24 hour fast.

The next day sees these women in their crimson red saris,
singing and dancing on the streets leading to Shiva shrines. The main
activities revolve around the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. On this
special day the temple remains closed for all males except the Brahmin
priests. Female devotees, as a mark of total devotion to Shiva the
Destroyer, circumambulate the lingam, the phallic symbol of the almighty,
making offerings of flowers, sweets and coins and praying for their
husband's longevity, progress and prosperity.

The third and last days of the festival is called Rishi Panchami, which is the fifth day of the waxing moon. On this day, women who have undergone the agonizing fast pay homage to various deities situated on the banks of sacred rivers. After a holy bath in the rivers, they use a
piece of datiwan (a sacred plant with religious and medicinal
significance), to sprinkle holy water all over their body 360 times. The
ritual helps them secure exoneration for all sins they might have committed
in the past year.

Dashain Festaval:

Dashain glorifies the triumph of good over evil, of goddess Durga’s slaying of the terrible demon Mahisasura, who roamed the earth, terrorizing the populace in the guise and the victory of good over evil, as represented by the goddess Durga Bhawani of a ferocious water buffalo. Ten days of intense sacrificial and joyous worship celebrate fertility and the various gods who battle the demons.

The first day of Dasain is called Ghatasthapana, which means establishing of the holy water vessel, which represents the goddess Durga. Barley seeds are planted in it.

The seventh day or Phulapati is the offering of flowers and leaves, carried by runners from Gorkha , the ancestral home of the Shah Kings of Nepal, and received by the king in Kathmandu.

On maha Asthami , the eight days, the fervor of worship and sacrifice to Kali and Durga increases. Animal sacrifices highlight events of the ninth night to appease Durga the Goddess of Victory and might.

Dasain takes its name from Bijaya Dashami , the greattenth days of victory . This is the day when lord Rama slew the demon Ravana and when Durga vanquished the demon Mahisasura. On this day Tika is received from elders. The Tika symbolizing victory is a blessing good fortune .

 
Tihar ( brother and sister festival):

The third and the fifth days are the most important of this five days festival. In western India (including Delhi), it is the biggest Hindu festival and in Nepal second only to Dasain. On the first day, crows, the messengers of death are honored and fed. The second day is in honor of the dogs, the vehicle of Bhairab. The third day is set aside for cows as the incarnation of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The day is called Deepawali (Diwali), the festival of lights, and all the households of Kathmandu are illuminated by lamps to the goddess of wealth. This festival always falls on a new moon so the effect is particularly delightful. It is said that the goddess Laxmi will shun any household not illuminated on this day, which is also an occasion for gambling.

The five day of the festival is BHAI TIKA and is meant especially for brothers and sisters who are supposed to get together on this day. There is a small ceremony and they mark each other’s foreheads with TIKAS. The sister also puts oil on her brother’s hair and gives some sweets and he pays her a small sum of money. On this day, the bazaar of Kathmandu is full of sweets, fresh and dried fruit.

 

Maha Shivaratri (New moon day of Falgun month ):

Maha Shivaratri , or the great night of lord Shiva, is observed in honor of Lord shiva’s day of birth. A great fair takes place at the Pashupati temple as thousands of pilgrims from all parts of Nepal and India congregate in celebration.

 




Fagu Purnima or Holi Full moon day of Falgun:

This is a colorful occasion when people sear each other with colored powder and splash water balloons onto one another. The chir pole is erected at the Kathmandu Durbar Square gaily decorated with colorful flags. That is the formal announcement to every body to hide all their good clothes and to join in the revelry.

 

 

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Published on: Friday, June 28th, 2013

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