5 Days Tihar Festival

Tihar is the five days celebration in Yama Panchak.

Tihar is the most celebrated festival after Dashain in Nepal. It is a five-day festival celebrated in late autumn. It has its unique ways of celebration.

Story behind Tihar
There are various stories about the celebration of Tihar. One of the famous stories behind the celebration of tihar is related to Yama the god of death and his sister Yamuna. Yama had been staying away from his sister for a long time. His sister wanted to meet him so she asked various sources to visit him and ask him to give her a visit. She sent crow, dog, and cow and at the end she went herself to see her brother. She worshipped him with tika and flowers, she put him five colored tika. Yamuna made a circle with mustard oil, Dubo Grass (Cynodon Dactylon) and put Makhmali Mala (Globe Amaranth) and asked Yamaraj not to go till the oil, Dubo Grass and the flower gets dry. Therefore, every sister worships her brother keeping him in the circle of mustard oil, putting mala (garland) of Makhmali flower and Dubo grass.

tihar-depawali-festival

Happy Deepawali

First day – Kag Tihar (Crow Puja)
On the first day of Tihar, crows are worshiped and fed early in the morning. People leave different food items outside for crows to eat. Crow is considered to be the messenger of death. People believe the crow gets the messages to the house in the morning. People worship it to bring good luck themselves.

Kaag Tihar

Kag Tihar (Crow Puja)

Second day – Kukur Tihar
The second day of tihar is dedicated to the most loyal friend of mankind. Kukur, the dog, Puja is done by putting a red tika on dogs forehead and flower garland around the neck offering him foods and sel roti. Generally male dogs are worshiped. It is said dog can see endangers and the death coming.

Kukur Tihar

Kukur Tihar (Dog Puja)

Third day Gai (cow) Puja and Laxmi Puja
On the third day of tihar Cows are worshipped in the morning. Cows are worshipped with sesame oil light, garland of flower and red color (abir). Wheat flour, sel roti, rice and dal are feed to cows. Disciples try to pass in-between four legs of the cow. Cow is regarded as mother in Hindu religion, as we grow up drinking her milk. Some look cow as Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

In the afternoon we clean our houses, paint floors with Red Mud (Rato Mato) and cow dung (gobar). Small circle are made in front of the main gate and decorated with colorful designs. Some people call it rangoli.

Small designs of footsteps are painted from the main entrance to the puja kotha. These footsteps are believed to be the footsteps of goddess Lakshmi. Candles or pala are lit all over the house making it bright and beautiful.

Gai (Cow) Tihar

Gai Tihar (Cow and Laxmi Puja)

There is a long tradition of going housed in the evening singing songs to ask for money and foods. Generally girls and kids go out to neighbors sing traditional songs called Bhailo songs. The tradition is called “Bhailo” and songs are called Bhailini songs.

The song starts with “Bhailini aain agana gunyo cholo magna, hey ausi ko din gai tiharo bhailo”. Badali kudali rakheko, laxmi pooja gareko, hey ajako dina gaitiharo bhailo…” Meaning Bahilini are at your door to ask for a gunyo cholo (Nepali traditional dress), today is no moon day and Cow pooja and Bhailo day, the house is clean and you have done Lakshmi puja, today is cow pooja day and Bhailo”

Fire crackers are blown in this day. People play cards in Laxmi puja to welcome goddess Laxmi in the night. People believe, laxmi comes to the house which is clean and bright.
In the evening the goddess of wealth Lakshmi is worshiped by lighting numerous lights and lightening works. It is believed that by worshiping Laxmi and pleasing her in return she gives us wealth. People worship wealth and food store this day.

Fourth day – Goru Tihar (Govardhan parbat ko puja) and Mah (aatma or self) Puja: On Govardhan puja Goru Tihar, three different Kinds of puja are performed. We perform Goru Puja, or worship Oxen. We also perform Govardhan Puja, which is done by making a hill of govardhan parbat using Cow dung. Cow dung has big importance in Hindu culture. In the old days it was used for everything from light at night (Methane) to polish mud floors of traditional houses. Still now no Puja is complete without cow dung in Nepali Hindu culture.

Mha Puja Nepal Sambat 1137

Mha Puja Nepal Sambat 1137

In this night Newar community perform Maha Puja also known as self-puja. It is done to purify our body. In this puja a Mandap decorated with Saipatri (marigold flower), sweets and fruits and a special Mala (garland) which is made of thread is kept. Each member of the family has one Mandap. A female member of the family offers the person sitting on the Mandap a Sagun with her hands crossed. Shagun usually consist of fried eggs, fruits, sweets, meat, fish, lentil and pastries. In the left hand with egg and fish and in the right hand Rakshi (homemade alcohol). This day is also the beginning of Nepal Sambat, Newari New year.

In the evening many Nepali children and young men go house to house singing Deusi song (Aahai bhana mera bhai ho deusi re bhana na bhana deusere). Deusi is very similar to Bhailo. Bhailo is primarily for female and Deusi for male. However, now a days there is such distinction. People go in group with males and females members to celebrate Bhailo and deusi both.

Fifth Day: Bhai Tika or Bhai Duj:
The fifth and last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika. This day sisters put “Tika of five colours” Paanch Rangi Tika – Yellow, green, red, blue and white on forehead of her brothers, to ensure long life and pray to Yamraja for her brother’s long life and prosperity. Sister offers brothers Shaguns of dry fruits especially walnut, hazelnut (Katus), fruits and sweets and in return the brothers give their sisters gifts and money. The brothers also put Pancha Rangi Tika to sister and bow her on her feet and assure her to protect her till the end of life.

Bhai Tika Tihar

Bhai Tika

On this day, Rani Pokhari Temple (located at central Kathmandu) is opened for those who do not have any brother or sister. This is the only time in a year the temple is open to general public.

Source: weallnepali

Visit Nepal Year planned for 2020

Visit Nepal Year 2020

Visit Nepal Year 2020

As the government has set a target to bring in two million tourists each year by 2020, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) has planned to organise ‘Visit Nepal Year’ in 2020 to attract more tourists to the country. Unveiling the action plan of the ministry for the next two months, Tourism Minister Jitendra Narayan Dev said that the ministry will establish a secretariat for the Visit Nepal Year shortly to make necessary preparations.

Earlier, the MoCTCA had planned to celebrate Visit Nepal Year in 2018, which was put off due to the delay in construction of airports, heritage sites and roads. The 60-day action plan unveiled today has given due priority to the early completion of the construction and expansion of the international and domestic airports, heritage sites and other tourism infrastructure. The government has planned to complete the expansion of Tribhuvan International Airport and construction of Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa before the Visit Nepal Year. Likewise, the reconstruction of major heritage sites is expected to be completed before 2020.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

In its 60-day plan, MoCTCA has said that it will frame country-wise tourism promotion strategy and bring it into implementation. Country-wise tourism strategy will help the tourism promotion organisations to carry out promotionalactivities to tap potential outbound travellers of concerned countries. Currently, India, China, United States of America, United Kingdom and Sri Lanka are the major source countries of tourists.

In the context of rising number of outbound travellers in India and China, the country wise tourism promotion strategy will help Nepal to tap the outbound travellers of the neighbouring nations. The country will identify the reasons behind low growth in tourist arrivals and take necessary measures to attract more tourists in the country, according to Minister Dev.

He further said that the air service agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and New Zealand will be finalised soon. The action plan also states that MoCTCA will review the air service agreements with Thailand, Japan, Egypt and China, among others.

The ministry will initiate the process to bring strategic partner for Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) — the national flag carrier — and also take forward NAC’s proposal to purchase two more narrow-body aircraft. The business plan submitted by NAC for the commercial operation of two wide-body aircraft that the corporation is in the process of purchasing and its plans regarding human resources will be finalised in the next two months.

The action plan also incorporates plans to amend the Tourism Act to make it more contextual and also plans to amend Casino Regulation, Travel and Trekking Regulation and Mountaineering Expedition Regulation.

chitwan-national-park

chitwan-national-park

Likewise, to bridge the gap in human resources in the tourism sector, which is expected to boom in the future along with the government and private sector’s initiative to achieve robust growth in this sector, Tourism Minister Dev has envisioned to upgrade Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management to a Tourism University. To establish the Tourism University, the MoCTCA will carry out the necessary groundwork like framing draft law and land acquisition for the university, among others in the next two months.

MoCTCA will also carry out a survey to expand the line agencies of the ministry and the departments to the provincial and local levels. Similarly, it will also frame a master plan for the preservation of tourist sites, as per the action plan unveiled today.

source: The Himalayan Times

Happy Dashain Festival

Happy Dashain Festival in Nepal

Happy Dashain Festival in Nepal

The Dashain Festival is also celebrated by Hindus and Nepalese in practically every other part of the planet where they live. In Nepal, Dashain is the longest and most notable festival on the calendar, and many Nepalese expatriates actually return to Nepal specifically to observe Dashain Festival in their homeland.

Fulpati at Dashain Festival Nepal

Fulpati at Dashain Festival Nepal

Dashain runs from the “bright moon” until the full moon in the Hindu month of Ashvin, lasting for 15 days. On the gregorian calendar, it falls in either September or October, varying from year to year due to the differences between a lunar versus a solar based time-keeping system. During Dashain, many Nepalese businesses and public buildings will be closed, so the tourist will need to plan ahead carefully.

Flying Kites

People Kite fly highly decorative kites from their roof tops and elsewhere and shout out “Changa Cheit” whenever kite strings get tangled.

Dashain is celebrated to mark the victory, according to Hindu religious writings, of Ramayan over the evil demon-king, Ravana, and over the demon Mahisasur, who cruelly terrorised the people of India in the form of a raging water buffalo. The Hindu goddess Durga was said to be instrumental in winning these victories, so she is especially worshiped at this time. In general, the holiday season of Dashain is a celebration of “the triumph of good over evil,” though it is tied to specific Hindu stories.

Dashain Festival

Dashain Festival

Dashain Traditions

The people of Nepal celebrate Dashain with great festivity. Some of their traditions associated with the holiday include the following:

  • Kites a flown as Dashain Festival draws near and during the festival. People fly highly decorative kites from their roof tops and elsewhere and shout out “Changa Cheit” whenever kite strings get tangled.
  • Playing card games is common during Dashain. Families get together to play for both money and for fun. While all ages take part in kite-flying, kids usually are out flying their kites while adults play the card games.
  • Homes are cleaned thoroughly and decorated ornately. This is meant to be a gesture to the Hindu “mother goddess” to come down and bless the home with good luck. Distant family members also gather and enjoy reunions in the clean and beautiful houses.
  • Many purchase new clothing and wear it at this time of year. Those who live in dire poverty don their best clothing and may buy clothes at few other times of the year besides Dashain.
  • Temporary swings are constructed out of bamboo and set up for children to play at. Adults even stop to try out the swings, which can be up to 20 feet high. They are disassembled at the end of the festivities.
  • Literally thousands of animal sacrifices are made, including buffalo, rams, and ducks. They are meant to appease Hindu goddesses and are sacrificed at temples all over the country. Many also rise early in the mornings and visit temples to worship various gods.
  • Since Dashain Festival arrives just after the harvest, there is much rice and grain in homes at this time of year. Worshipers use pigmented, red rice, called “tika,” to mark their foreheads. Some also mark them with a white circle instead, however.
Dashain Tika

Dashain Tika

Some things for tourists to look for and take part in if in Nepal for Dashain Festival include these three:

  • Attend numerous small fairs held in Nepalese villages, which often have Ferris wheels and other rides and entertainment. In major cities, like Kathmandu, you can expect to find larger fairs with more options.
  • Listen to Nepalese musical programs held at this time of year. There is “Dashain music” as surely as there is Christmas music, and it is called “Mal Shree Dhun.” In the Terai and Madhesh regions, you will especially find many musical opportunities.
  • Observe Dashain processions through the “three royal cities” of the Kathmandu Valley. The spectacle is very colorful and busily attended. It has a religious bases, for it involves the carrying of numerous statues of Hindu gods.

Source: Publicholidays

Indra Jatra festival begins

Indra Jatra Festival of Nepal

Get a glimpse of Kumari, the little Goddess, at Kumari Ghar in Basantapur.

Indra Jatra, the biggest festival of Kathmandu Valley dedicated to god of rain Indra, formally began today with the erection of a sacred wooden pole (lingo) at Hanumandhoka in Basantapur Darbar Square.

Indra Jatra Festival in Nepal

People pull ropes to erect lingo (a wooden pole) to commence the start of the eight-day long Indra Jatra festival, at the premises of the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, in Kathmandu.

The festival lasts for eight days with singing, mask dancing and rejoicing along with other rituals. It is also celebrated in Kavre and Dolakha districts.

Indra Jatra festival falls on the fourth day of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadra as per the lunar calendar.

Indra Jatra Festival

Pulu kishi dance in Indra jatra (Elephant Dance)

Legends said that the Indra Jatra festival is observed to celebrate the victory of the gods over the demons to release Jayanta, the son of Lord Indra.

Indra Jatra Festival in Kathmandu Durbar Sqaure

Indra, the god of rain, is worshiped in this festival primarily celebrated by the Newar communities following both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Source: Thehimalayantimes

Changing Trends in Teej Celebration

People throng Pashupati Temple for Teej festival

People throng Pashupati Temple for Teej festival

“Teejko lahar aayo bari lai
Teejko lahar aayo bari lai …..”

Every year as the festival of Teej — arguably the most important festival for Hindu women — approaches, women and girls get pumped up and gather to celebrate.

Dancing to the aforementioned tune was a group of women, clad in red and green saris and kurtas, on Monday at the ‘Dar Eating Program’ at Amrapali Banquet, Naxal. These women were friends, colleagues and acquaintances, who had taken their time off to come out and celebrate the spirit of Teej.

As Teej neared, to be celebrated nation-wide on August 24 this year, streets of Kathmandu were crowded by women and girls wearing red saris and attractive jewelries. Previously considered a one-day affair, women of various age-groups these days gather in banquets to eat Dar weeks before the day of Teej.

Women sing and dance at Pashupatinath Temple during the Teej festival in Kathmandu

Women sing and dance at Pashupatinath Temple during the Teej festival in Kathmandu The three-day festival, commemorating the union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, involves sumptuous feasts and rigid fasting. Hindu women pray for marital bliss, the well-being of their spouses and children, and the purification of their own bodies and souls during this period of religious fasting.

Dar is a name given to the meal consumed by women a day before the day of Teej, particularly because they are to observe fast, without even drinking a single drop of water, the following day.

Dar comprises of protein and carbohydrate-rich food, which when consumed in ample amount would fill for the hungry stomachs the following day as women observe fast until sundown. Hindu married women believe that fasting on the day of Teej will provide longevity to their husbands. In case of unmarried women, the fast is believed to earn them a suitable match.

Singing and dancing at pashupatinath temple.

Singing and dancing at pashupatinath temple.

Popularity of Banquets and event halls
The tradition of Teej and Dar, however, has adapted a few changes over the years. Dar eating programs are organized in banquets and halls, outside the borders of family home and relationships. Banquets and event halls, undeniably, have benefitted hugely from this trend. Apart from the wedding season, these kinds of events earn them ample revenue.

Ishara Koirala, a master’s student at Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus, said such programs were good excuses for women to take some time off and socialize. Perhaps the tradition has after all not changed much as compared to old times when women used to gather around Pati and Pauwa and sing both happy and sad verses in relations to their lives. “These events are not much different from what used to be, since women get to catch up with their counterparts, relax and socialize,” remarked Koirala.

HAPPY TEEJ FESTIVAL IN NEPAL

HAPPY TEEJ FESTIVAL IN NEPAL

Forty-year-old Bishnu Lama, who owns a canteen in Sundhara, recalled a recent invite to Yak Party Palace, Pulchowk for Dar and shared that it was fun as well as relaxing to be at a place away from daily-life nuances.

Previously, Bishnu would organize Dar eating program at her house. She used to cook a variety of dishes for her relatives and friends. Though the food items remained the same, she said, going to the banquet reduced half her efforts. “Giving responsibility to catering services and banquet halls to arrange the food along with the venue reduced half of the pressure off our heads.”

Changing fasting culture
Changes are evident not only when it comes to how and where these Dar programs are being organized, but also how the fasting culture is observed.

“Fasting culture, over the years, has changed,” remarked 86-year-old Aruna Pokharel. She lives in Baneshwor and was visiting Mahadevsthan Temple of Koteshwor on Monday. She is a regular visitor to the temple. “When I was young and able, I would fast every Monday during the month of Shrawan and in Teej. I would start my Teej fast with a small puja, eat nothing, not even a single drop of water, and break my fast only after sundown,” said Aruna.

However, with passing years, she has observed a big difference in the way women, especially younger ones, observe fasting in Teej. Referencing to Purnima, her 19-year-old granddaughter, who had followed her to the temple, she said, “My granddaughter fasts only if she feels like it and my daughter-in-law eats fruits throughout the day even when she is ‘technically fasting’.”

Teej Festival - Hari Talika

Teej Festival – Hari Talika

Sometimes, Aruna gets exasperated by how lenient her family members have become in terms of following age-old rituals. “I tell them periodically that rituals are not to be meddled with, but they don’t listen to me. If you are going to fast anyway, why not do it right?”

Undeniably, the norms behind fasting have changed. Growing up, one can find varied narratives being provided to girls and women regarding the fasting tradition. While a working sister-in-law may eat a few fruits during the fast, stay-at-home moms preach stronger guidelines on how to be religious and thorough about it. Some say avoiding salt and vegetables work as a fine substitute, while others insist complete abstinence from eating and drinking.

Purnima argued, “If fasting is all about staying pure and showing my devotion to God, I can do that by eating as well. No amount of spiritual bliss received through fasting overcomes a hangry (hungry and angry) state if I am to work under a deadline and be productive throughout the day.”

Source: Myrepublica

Shree Krishna Janmashtami

Happy Krishna Janmashtami

Happy Krishna Janmashtami

As Hindus across the world celebrated the Shree Krishna Janmashtami festival on Thursday, thousands visited the historic Krishna Temple in Patan of Lalitpur.

The Dwapar-era god, also considered the eighth among 10 avatars of Lord Bishnu, Lord Krishna is believed to have born at the midnight of the eighth day of the waning moon in the month of Bhadra (Bhadra Krishna Ashtami).

Shree Krishna Janmashtami, more simply referred to as Janmashtami, is a Hindu holiday taking place every year in the month of Bhadrapada. On the Gregorian Calendar, it falls sometime in August or September.

Krishna Janmashtami

Nepalese Hindu devotees gather to celebrate the birth of Hindu Lord Krishna ‘Krishna Janmashtami’ at Lalitpur.

The holiday is very popular in Nepal and throughout the Hindu world. It is meant to commemorate the 8th birth, or avatar, of the god Krishna. It is celebrated as a general triumph of good over evil. Hindu epic tales tell of Krishna’s battles with evil beings and his ultimate victory over the forces of darkness.

To mark the day, there will be performances at midnight that look back to the epic battle of Krishna against the evil King Kansa, when it was also very dark and windy. Many devotees will fast, worship Krishna, and offer such things as milk and cheese curds to him since he is thought to particularly enjoy dairy products.

Shree Krishna Janmashtami

Shree Krishna Janmashtami

Janmashtami celebrations include traditional singing and dancing, reenactments of the “life cycle of Krishna,” visits to festively decorated Hindu temples, and exchanging of gifts. Some temples are lit up as the crowds gather in the night to offer flowers, food, and candy to a Krishna idol.

Those who cannot attend temple, however, still celebrate with miniature Krishna idols that are arranged inside beautifully decorated cradles.