We wanted to write this blog post because Nepal is currently right in the middle of their biggest yearly festival, Dashain. Although the dates vary every year, at the end of September/beginning of October, Nepali people take time off work and travel back to their homes for Dashain. The fifteen day festival commemorates the triumph of the gods over some rascally demons spreading havoc in the world. People celebrate in many ways but this festival is most notable for the “clogged” airports and bus depots with people travelling to their family homes across the country.
With the festival of lights (Tihar) following on the heels of Dashain, Nepal essentially shuts down in October for country-wide celebrations. Tihar is probably the second biggest festival in Nepal and is unique because not just humans and gods are worshipped, but animals as well. On the second day of the festival, Kukur Tihar, you can show a street dog some love with a garland, or some tika and food. This day is spent worshipping dogs, who hold a special place in Hindu lore.
Now, any list of Nepali festivals would be incomplete without mentioning the most boisterous and colourful of the bunch: Holi. The spring festival is sometimes known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. Everyone takes to the streets with coloured powder and water guns and a country wide battle ensues. You spend half your time dodging the didis dropping water balloons from the safety of their apartment windows and the other half running joyfully away from children with hands full of tika powder on the offensive march. If you want to get a first hand look at the festival, check out Paige’s video of the festival last year!
Another truly great celebration in Nepal is Buddha Jayanti, which commemorates Buddha’s birthday! Since Buddha was born in Nepal, the celebrations are a pretty big deal. We travelled to Lumbini (the birthplace) because it just so happened that in the year we were in Nepal, Buddha’s birthday was on the same day as another very important person… Nadia! Buddhist monks from around the world made pilgrimage to see the stone on which Buddha was born and there was incredible energy and vibrancy to the festivities that would be hard to top!
Nepal is unique in that it has the highest number of public holidays out of any country in the world. This means there’s always something to rejoice over and celebrate and discover. Although these four are some of our favourite festivals, there are so many more amazing celebrations throughout the year! No matter when you decide to visit (which we really hope you will), you’re sure to sneak a festival in!