Nepal is a
country of festivals. In fact, the Nepalese are said to observe
more festivals than there are days in the year. Hardly a day
passes without some festivities, ceremonial observances or
pilgrimages occurring in country so as its region in Mithila.
The following is a brief description of the major festivals
observed in the Mithila (Janakpur).
Nawa Varsa or
Nepalese (Mithila) new year is celebrated every year with
great enthusiasm. This great according to the officially
recognized Vikrama Era fall on the first day of the first month
the Nepalese year (Baishakh) Which corresponds to mid April
around. As elsewhere, the New Year is observed by exchange of
greetings, singing and dancing.
For the people in
Mithila however it is more then this. They celebrate this
occasion as beginning of hot days by putting cold water in head
by elders, and then playing with water.
(fifth day after the full moon of Shrawan)
In Hinduism, Nag
(the divine serpent) is glorified as the provider of rain. Nag
is worshipped to provide a good harvest during the monsoon
season, and Nag Panchami, the fifth day of the bright lunar
fortnight, is set aside for worshipping serpents. Devotees on
this day paste pictures of Nag over their doorways with
cow-dung. As part of the rituals to propitiate the divine
serpents, milk, their favorite drink is offered to the pictures.
Failure to appease them may invite droughts and disaster in the
Devotees also teats sour food at early morning.
Rishi Tarpani (July/August)
(one day preceding the full moon of Shrawan)
On this day,
Brahmins (The priestly class) and Rajput have their annual
ritual of changing their sacred thread called the janau. This is
also the day for Raksya Bandhan (a safety thread bon). Most
prefer their Brahmin priests to put it around their wrists with
the chanting of mantra (holy hymns).
Rishi Tarpani is
the day to pay ablution to Rishis, as the hermits practicing
self-denial are known. The full moon day thus sees hordes of
Hindu priests with their clean-shaven heads taking dips in the
holy water to purify their bodies before they get on with their
business of offering sacred yellow threads to their clients.
(seven days after the
full moon of Bhadra)
anniversary of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord
Vishnu, is one of the greatest Hindu festivals for the Hindus of
Nepal. Krishna’s exploits as a child when he subdued fierce
demons and performed miraculous feats specially endear him to
his devotees. In his boyhood, Krishna killed the evil king
Kansa, his maternal uncle, to liberate the people from his
atrocities. During the 18-day war depicted in the great Hindu
epic Mahabharat, Krishna served as the de facto commander and
strategist for the righteous Pandavas.
(2nd till the 5th day following the new moon of
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 women, compliance with the age-old tradition ensures a
good, loving and caring husband.
The festival combines both sumptuous feasts and tormenting
fasts. On the first day of the three-day celebration, groups of
women, both married and unmarried, congregate at one place in
their finest attires. Amidst laughter, songs and music, the
grand feasts begins. 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 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 day 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
Its mean the
fourth day moon of August cosidered as a day sacred to Ganesha,
The elephant headed god of good luck. People celebrate this day
offering various seasonal fruits and flowers to all powerful
Ganesha and pray for protection from unnecessary evils.
Dasain 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 of a ferocious water buffalo. Ten days of
intense sacrificial and joyous worship celebrate fertility and
the victory of good over evil, as represented by the goddess
Durga Bhawani 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 Phulpati 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 Ashthami, the eighth day, 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. As animal sacrifices is not
practice by many they replace animals by vegetables.
Dasain takes its name from Vijaya Dashami, the Great Tenth Day
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 brahmins.
The tika symbolizing victory is a blessing of good fortune.
& Lakshmi Puja (November)
Tihar is known as
the festival of lights and is celebrated for five days. On the
occasion of Laxmi Puja houses are illuminated at night. An
assortment of special sweets are prepared and offered to guests.
At this time certain animals are also favored with food and
garlands. The first day of Tihar is dedicated to the crow, the
second to the dog, the third to the cow and the fourth to the
ox. On the fifth day, women who have brothers offer them tika
and special food. In return the brother gives his sister a token
of appreciation usually in the form of money and renews his
commitment to protect her honor.
There is one Hindu festival that is that is known for its unique
association to Mithila. It is devoted to the worship of the Sun
God. It is, therefore, also known as Surya Shashti. The festival
begins on the sixth day of the month of Kartik in the Hindu
lunar calendar. This corresponds to the period beginning from
late October to mid November, depending upon the year. It is one
of the holiest festivals for Mithila and extends four days long.
Details of each day are elaborately given are
(the 5th day following the new moon of Ashwin)
commemorating the marriage of Sita to Ram. Ram, hero of the epic
Ramayana and an incarnation of Vishnu had come to Janakpur, was
the kingdom of Sita’s father King Janak, to marry Sita. The
occasion attracts thousands of pilgrims from India.
Maghe Sankranti or Tila Sankranti (Mid
(first day of the month of Magh)
Maghé Sankranti is
the first day of the month of Magh. Magh is a sacred month so
the first day is celebrated with a feast at home that
particularly constitute of til and brown sugar. Lord Vishnu the
Preserver is worshipped and thanked for the return of the warm
season once more. Through the month of Magh, people busy
themselves with religious activities such as taking an early
morning bath in holy rivers, visiting the shrines of Vishnu and
offering flowers, incense and food, and reading the Bhagavad
Basanta Panchami &
(five days after the new moon of Magh)
Both festivals occur
on the same day. This is the day that ushers in the spring
season. Basanta Panchami is celebrated as beginning of autumn
season. In Saraswati puja day goddess of knowledge is
worshipped. Many students fast on this day and eat only one meal
of pure vegetarian dishes to prove their devotion.
(new moon day of Falgun)
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 Pashupatinath Temple as
thousands of pilgrims from all parts of Nepal and India
congregate in celebration.
Holi or Fagu-wa
(full moon day of Falgun)
This is a colorful
occasion when people smear each other with colored powder and
splash water balloons onto one another and youths love to play.
This continues for one full week. The fever of this game goes
very high on the full moon day which is the last day of
celebration. In this day people exchange greeting as offer
big day for Hindu is celebrated in honor of the great Hindu King
Rama on the 9th day of bright fortnight of chaitra (March). But
the main deity to be worshipped on this occasion is the all
powerful mother goddess Durga, the wife of Lord Shiva, the
presiding deity of the Hindu pantheon because as and the holy
Hindu scriptures say Rama was a great devotee of Durga her
blessings enabled Rama to kill his arch enemy, Ravana, the most
dreaded demon king on this day. This day is symbolically
commemorated as the victory of virtue over vice.