For the Nepalese, religious festivals and cultural celebrations are intertwined with their daily lives and a part of their rich cultural heritage, and as such there is always an event in Kathmandu. Check here often for the latest news and Kathmandu events.
Most of the important Nepalese festivals are celebrated in Kathmandu and in the heart of the city at Durbar Square. Please note that many business houses and shops are closed a few days before and after festival time. During the festival of "Dasain" in October, most of the city tends to shut down.
Festival of Lights (known as "Tihar" or "Deepawali" or "Diwali") - This five day festival, which is celebrated each year in the last week of October or the beginning of November, takes place on the fifteenth day of "Kartika".
This festival celebrated by Hindus all over the world includes ritual cleaning of homes, burning of lanterns and candles and lighting of firecrackers. The celebrations during Diwali in Nepal are beautiful and involve comparatively less lighting of firecrackers than the celebrations in India.
Holi - This festival, celebrated in the month of March, includes smearing each other with coloured powder and throwing splashes of coloured water; this symbolises good luck but is also very messy!
Bikram New Year - This festival, celebrated in the month of April, is a day of pilgrimages. It often includes a pilgrimage from Kathmandu to the holy river of Bungmati, which separates the city from Patan.
Teej - This is the most important festival for women and is celebrated in the month of September. Married women dress up in their red marriage saris and visit other relatives. Women, both married and unmarried, stay up late at night to pray for their husbands or husbands-to-be in future.
Indra Jatra Harvest Festival - This festival is celebrated for eight days in the month of September at Kathmandu's Durbar Square. Goddess "Kumari" participates in a parade on her sacred chariot.
Maha Shivaratri is one of the most important occasions for worshippers of Lord Shiva, the god of all gods in Hindu mythology. This festival is observed throughout Nepal and by Hindu communities abroad.
Fagu Poornima or the 'Festival of Colors' is observed as one of the most fun-filled activities involving the whole community. During this festival, people splash each other with colors, water, and feast along with relatives and friends.
Ghode Jatra is a spectacular exhibit to mark the victory of good over evil and is believed to have been celebrated since medieval times. It is one of the events exclusively held in Kathmandu, in front of a huge crowd observing and cheering at the proceedings. People of Patan observe the occasion in a unique way. They blindfold one eye of a specially chosen horse and then race it.
Chaite Dashain is considered the second Dashain festival celebrated by Nepalese Hindus in the month of Chaitra (March/April). As a special tradition, animal sacrifices are performed by Nepal Army in the courtyard of Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Basantapur (Kathmandu Durbar Square)
In the official solar calendar of Nepal known as Bikram Sambat, the New Year begins day falls in mid-spring, betokening a very auspicious and fruitful beginning for a new year.
Matatirtha Aunshi (or the Nepalese Mother's Day) falls annually on the new moon day (Aunshi, in Nepali) of the month of Baishakh (second half of April or first half of May).
Buddha Jayanti falls on the full moon day of the month of Baishakh (April/May), when all the most important events in Lord Buddha’s life, namely, birth, enlightenment, and death are believed to have happened.
Consequently, this day assumes paramount significance for the Buddhists, who visit the monasteries and offer worships to the founder of their faith. They also take out colorful processions in special costumes, attend the functions in monasteries and organise feasts to mark the occasion.
Nag Panchami is a day to worship the lord of the snakes (Naga), believed by Hindus to be their protector against various adversities including natural disasters.
Krishnastami is the celebration of the birthday of Lord Krishna, whose teachings comprise the holy book of Bhagwad Geeta.
Teej is the festival of women. Dressed essentially in bright red, women flock to Pashupatinath - the temple of Lord Shiva.
The typical description of Dashain, the greatest festival of the Nepalese people, as simply a celebration of the ‘victory of truth over falsity’ falls far short of conveying the joy it brings, the enthusiastic homeward movement of people it generates, and the boisterous festivities it accompanies for full two weeks.
Foolpati is the 7th day of Bada Dashain. On this day people collect flowers and other sacred plant leaves and place them on the altar, the Dashain Ghar, erected on the first day called Ghatasthapana.
The eighth day of Dashain is known as Maha Ashtami. A large number of goats, buffaloes, and other domestic fowl are sacrificed in homes and temples nationwide.
This is the 9th day of Dashain, when people worship their tools and instruments. This symbolises the worship for prosperity, as the tools they worship represent the skill utilised for earning a living.
Mythologically, the tenth day of Dashain marks the culmination of the Goddess Durga’s victory in the battles over the demons along with their legions.
Tihar or Deepawali is one of the most spectacular Hindu festivals, and is often referred to as the 'festival of lights.'
Nepal Sambat, the new year of the Newar community in Nepal, falls generally between mid-October and mid-November.