Maha Shivaratri (The Night of Lord Shiva)

Maha Shivaratri (The Night of Lord Shiva)
Happy Maha Shivaratri 2017

Happy Maha Shivaratri 2019

Maha Shivaratri meaning the night of Lord Shiva is one of the major festivals of Nepal and literally means Night of Shiva.

It is believed that on this day, the stars in the Northern Hemisphere are at most optimum positions to help raise a persons spiritual energy.It is also believed that the Shiva principle is most active on this day of the year.

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated marking the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. Maha Shivaratri also celebrates the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandav, the cosmic dance.

Hundreds of thousands of devotees visit Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus. Pashupatinath is considered the Guardian and Protector of the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal.

Devotees chant Om Namah Shivay and Mahamritunjaya all night praying for light over darkness. Tourists are seen enjoying the ambiance with curiosity, as colorful and naked sadhus are seen meditating, posing for photographs and interacting with disciples.

Maha Shivaratri at Pashupatinath Temple

Maha Shivaratri at Pashupatinath Temple

Special attendance camps are set in the courtyards of the temples. Children are seen collecting donations from passersby on this day preparing for holy meal and bonfire in celebration of the special night.

Arrangements for Maha Shivaratri at Pashupatinath Temple Maha Shivaratri is known as one of the most celebrated religious festivals for Hindus. Every year Hindus from all over the world are seen thronging many Shiva temples during this festival. Pashupatinath Temple is the place with the biggest crowd on this day.

This year, on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) is expecting a crowd of 1.3 million people from across the world. For the successful celebration of the festival, the management unit in Pashupatinath have started cleaning the area. Also, this year more importance has been given for figuring out an easier way to manage crowd so that devotees can carry out their Puja and Darshan faster and more conveniently.

Spring is one of the best times to visit Nepal, and Indian tourists enjoy visiting during the most auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri. Special provisions are made to ease Darshan for Indian pilgrims at Pashupatinath during Maha Shivaratri, which falls on Feb 24 this year, according to officials at the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT). The PADT will also make available Pashupati Darshan passes at easy outlets near Pashupati area to facilitate pilgrims from India.

Apart from Puja and Darshan other attractions for visitors to the temple vicinity at the time will be the colorful crowd including gorgeous Sadhu Babas from different parts of Nepal and India. People come to Pashupatinath to observe and see the different kinds of Sadhu Babas and their activities; some Sadhus are covered is ashes while some prefer to be completely naked.

Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) Chairman Mr. Govinda Tandan says, As a huge crowd is expected this year. We are working to manage a fine parking facility and a good place for devotees to sit. Also, as many devotees show eagerness to distribute food to the people present there, we are trying to manage a proper place for the devotees to enjoy their meal.

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2017

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2019

As Maha Shivaratri is mainly related with the night, the devotees stay up all night and pray to Lord Shiva. The four Prahars of Puja is carried out all night long, the devotees usually stay in tents along the Gaushala road.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board

Changing Trends in Teej Celebration

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.



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

Janai Purnima Festival

Janai Purnima Festival
Janai Purnima

A toddler gets her wrist colourful with doro (Hindu’s traditional threads of different colours) from a Pandit (Hindu Priest) celebrating Janai Poornima

The tagadharis or those who wear the ‘Janai’ (the sacred thread) around their bodies from the left shoulder change the sacred thread on Tuesday after having a haircut and a bath on the occasion of ‘Janai Purnima’, also known as ‘Rishi Tarpani’.

This festival observed by the Hindus, especially of the Shaiva sect, on the full moon day in the Nepali month of Saun is also popularly known as ‘Gunhu Punhi’ in the Newar community.

According to the time-honoured tradition, the people receive the ‘Rakshya Bandhan’ thread, which is tied around the wrist as an amulet. The yellow thread is purified through the chanting of mantras by Brahmin priests as a symbol of protection from fear and disease. They also observe the occasion as ‘Kwanti Purnima’.

Kwanti Purnima

Kwanti a soup prepared from nine different beans, is a special delicacy added to the Nepali menu today.

The ‘Kulabarna Tantra’, a Tantrik scripture, says that the soup is highly nutritious and keeps diseases away.

In the Terai region, there is a tradition in which sisters tie an attractive ‘Rakhi’ around the wrist of their brothers wishing them long life and prosperity.

Thousands of devotees worship lord Shiva at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu and at Kumbheswor in Lalitpur and take holy dips in ponds and lakes.

Janai Purnima

People in Pashupatinath Area gather to get Raksha Bandhan tied around their wrists on the occasion of Janai Purnima.

Religious fairs are held at Gosaikunda, an alpine area in Rasuwa District, and at Dansanghu, Triveni in Jumla district to observe the festival with offerings of worship to Lord Shiva. A big religious fair takes place at the Gosaikunda Lake and pilgrims come from faraway places to take a holy dip in this lake and other lakes nearby.

Religious fairs take place today at Pashupati and Manichud of Kathmandu; Gosaikunda of Rasuwa; Kumbheshwar of Lalitpur; Panchpokhari of Sindhupalchowk; Janakpurdham, Dhanush Sagar and Ganga Sagar of Dhanusha; Dansanghu of Jumla and Trivenidham of Nawalparasi.

Janai Purnima

The Buddhists observe this day in commemoration of the day the Lord Gautama Buddha defeated the evil power of lust. This episode is well-described in the Buddhist scripture ‘Lalitbistar’. A special fair takes place at Swayambhunath of Kathmandu today for this reason.

TAAN should be given responsibility to assess, repair trekking trails’

TAAN should be given responsibility to assess, repair trekking trails’


Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) President Ramesh Prasad Dhamala has said that the responsibility of assessing and reconstructing quake-damaged trekking trails should be given to TAAN.
Stating that TAAN has a pool of trained trekking workers, who know geography of mountain areas very well, and the expertise in trekking and mountaineering sector, Dhamala said TAAN will perform responsibility assigned to it in time and in a professional manner.
Speaking as a keynote speaker in the second session of a workshop organized by Development Committee of legislature-parliament in Pokhara on January 20, he also urged the government and the donor agencies to work together for rebuilding.  “The government should provide collateral-free soft loans to tourism entrepreneurs so that they become ready to host tourists at the earliest,” he said.
He also requested the government to reduce royalty fee to Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpa to US$ 100 for a year and waive off permit fee for other controlled areas for one year to attract more tourists. “We can attract Indian tourists by developing package linking religious sites like Damodar Kunda, Muktinath, Tribeni Dham and Pashupatinath,” he added. He also requested the government to provide salary to tourism workers, who have become jobless, for at least three months as grant.
Saying that foreign insurance companies are hesitating to insure tourists interested to visit Nepal due to negative travel advisories issued by the government, he said TAAN is ready to buy insurance cover for trekkers and mountaineers by levying fee of $50 per person.
President Dhamala was actively involved in preparation of Pokhara Declaration.
Speaking at the meeting, Andrew Jones, vice president of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), said Nepal should launch promotional campaigns to invite tourists in areas that are untouched by the earthquake. He also said preparation was underway to certify by international experts that trekking trails are safe.
Crisis Management Expert of PATA Bert Van Walbeek suggested inviting foreign tour operators to Nepal and using social media to invite people to visit Nepal. “As people are becoming tech-savvy these days, Nepalis should post positive images on social media and inform people around the world that Nepal is safe. Likewise, newsletter and news should be published and broadcast in such a way that positive message is spread all over the world”, he added.
Rabindra Adhikari, chairman of the committee, said the workshop was organized in Pokhara to spread the message that is safe for tourists. Among others, Adhikari suggested to the government to waive off visa fee for three months, waive off entry fee for Annapurna Conservation Area, and introduce travel incentive leave (TIL) for government officials for promotion of domestic tourism.
Speaking at the program, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa said they can start rebuilding damaged infrastructures immediately if finance ministry releases budget for the purpose.
Likewise, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said that the ministry was preparing plans to take tourism industry to the pre-quake level.

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Source : TAAN

Nepal is ready to welcome tourists

On 25th April 2015 an earthquake struck the central region of Nepal in the Gorkha district just north of the main highway between Kathmandu and Pokhara.  The earthquake was followed by a number of severe aftershocks  and as a result, there were more than 8000 people found dead,  thousands more injured and it destroyed houses, trekking trails and monuments including centuries-old palaces and temples listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Despite damage to some of its historical and cultural monuments and trekking trails, Nepal is  now ready to welcome tourists. Some of the monuments in the  heritage sites will be reopen for tourists from June 15, 2015. Roads and air transport links remain intact across the country; the majority of hotels and restaurants are in operation.  Most trekking areas except Manaslu and Langtang have  not been damaged by the Earthquake and trekking can be undertaken any time in these areas.  Chitwan, Pokhara, Annapurna region and Bardia also escaped widespread damage, and are thus ready to showcase their abundance of natural life.  The birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini, did not suffer damage and is thankfully all set to welcome visitors back to its sacred soil.

There are many beautiful and captivating cultural and natural sites in the West, Mid-West, Far West and East Nepal  that await tourists to welcome there.  Out of 75 districts of Nepal, only 14 districts are damaged. Apart from Langtang, Manaslu and Gaurishankar,  other  14 national parks and conservation areas including Everest, Annapurna, Kanchanjunga areas withsood the earthquake with strength and power.

The Government of Nepal request international travelers to visit the magnificent and bustling country of Nepal, and support her by visiting it as she attempts to stand proudly on her feet once again. Walk the beautiful trails in the shadow of the most magnificent mountains on earth as you help the Nepalese people reset their course on the path to prosperity.  Nepal is now embarking upon the most fascinating period in all of its ancient history, and you could be right there to see it happen and your contribution will be a part of rebuilding new Nepal.

Tourism is one of the mainstays of the Nepalese economy, and Nepal will certainly need the income that tourism brings in as it attempts to recover from this disaster.

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India okays scheme for govt staff to travel to Nepal

Fulfilling a commitment made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the SAARC summit held in Kathmandu in November, the Indian government has approved a proposal to allow more than two million government employees to travel to Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka on Leave Travel Concession scheme.

The development comes as a major boost for Nepal which was recently devastated by three major earthquakes and more than 300 aftershocks. Consequent to the natural disaster tourist arrivals in the Himalayan nation plummeted to almost zero levels causing much panic in the tourism sector which is a major contributor to the country’s GDP. Most of the hotels in Nepal have since reported largescale cancellations of bookings made by tourists, especially the pilgrimage tourists from India.

The Indian government’s decision in effect will encourage middle class Indians to travel to Nepal either on pilgrimages to Hindu and Buddhism sites or for recreational and adventure purposes. “The government decided to fast track the proposal following the earthquake in Nepal so as to boost tourism in that country which is still reeling under the impact of the earthquake,” sources at the civil aviation ministry told The Himalayan Times here.

Under the provisions of the LTC, all the government employees can travel to any destination of their choice after due process and the cost of travel would be borne by the government. Hitherto the LTC facility was only available for travel within India. The move was aimed at boosting tourism within SAARC countries. However, Indian government employees cannot use the LTC to travel to Pakistan and Bangladesh, as these two neighbouring countries have been left out for now owing to security issues.
The ministry of civil aviation endorsed the proposal so that the LTC can be availed for the time being the on national carrier Air India while flying to these countries. The private airlines flying into Nepal are likely to lobby for a chunk of the pie in this newly created segment by arguing that Air India does not have the bandwidth to meet the likely surge in traffic to Nepal.

There are around two million government employees. With the extension of the LTC scheme there is bound to be greater movement of Indians to the four countries. Considering the close people to people ties between India and Nepal, they are likely to prefer to travel to Nepal using the facility.

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Source: thehimalayantimes