Festival

Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra is the festival of cows! Gai means Holy Cow and Jatra means festival in Nepali. This festival commemorates the death of relatives during the year. It is one of the most popular festivals and is celebrated to remove the sadness of the death of family members.

It falls on the first day of the dark fortnight of Gunla according to the lunar Nepal Era calendar. This year is will occur on Wednesday, August 8, 2017.

It falls on the first day of the dark fortnight of Gunla according to the lunar Nepal Era calendar. This year is will occur on Wednesday, August 8, 2017.

In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most venerated among all domestic animals. It is believed that the cow, revered as a holy animal, will help the deceased relatives journey to heaven.

Gai Jatra includes songs, jokes, mockery and humor throughout the day. It is a healthy festival which enables people to accept the reality of death and prepares them for life after death. According to Hinduism, “Whatever a man does in his life is a preparation leading to a good life after death.”

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Haritalika Teej

Teej is the most famous festival celebrated by Nepali and Hindu women all over the world. It is celebrated on the 3rd day of Bhadra Sukal Paksha (according to Nepali lunar calendar), which is usually late August or early September. This year, the Teej celebration will begin on Thursday, August 24 and end on Saturday, August 26.This three-day long festival is traditionally dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, remembering her union with Lord Shiva. It combines splendid feasts as well as rigid fasting.

Women in exquisite red sarees, adorn their bodies with delicate jewelry and body ornaments. The long strand of green, glass beads (potey) worn over one shoulder and across the body is called “Chadkey Tilahari.” The gold ornament, attached in the hair and hanging down on the forehead is called “Bindiya.”

They gather in streets, markets or public places to dance and sing hoping for the long life of their husbands and for a long and firm relationship between them until their death in this life and all lives to come. Teej is observed for marital happiness, well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul.

The women wear red because the Teej festival got its name from a small red insect that comes out of the soil during rainy season. The first day of the three -day festival is called Dar Khane Din. On this day, both married and unmarried ladies gather in one place in their finest red sarees. The group sing and dance devotional songs mixed with Nepali folk and Dohori songs.

In the evening, a grand feast called, Dar Khane takes place until midnight. Dar Khane means heavy food in Nepali. The feast includes mutton and chicken, traditional foods like sel roti, puri and many desserts like mithai. The women eat this lavish meal, which also includes food cooked with lots of ghee, vegetables and sweet rice three times on this day. After that, a 24-hour fast begins. Women offer worship to Lord Shiva and spend the rest of the day singing and dancing in their homes and at the Temples.

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Janai Purnima

Janai Purnima will be celebrated on July 28,2017.  Janai is Sacred Thread. Purnima is full moon day.  So the festival will occur on the full moon day in the month of Shrawan in the Bikram Sambat calendar. RakshyaBandhan, which is celebrated on the same day.  Rakshya means “to protect.” Bandhan is the tie or bond of protection. These sacred festivals are celebrated by Hindus all over the world. On this day, Hindu men, especially the Brahmins and Chettris perform their annual change of Janai, which is a cotton string worn across the chest. It was first given to them as young boys during a long and impressive religious ceremony called Bratabandhan – similar to a Christian Baptism or Christening or Jewish Bar Mitzvah.

Early in the morning, the priests in the village go to the lake or river and perform rituals making the thread sacred.  While reciting mantras over the thread, the Hindu priests dip it in the water. Bratabandhan is basically a formal process of accepting someone into the religion. The Janai initiates the boy into manhood and commands them to devotedly follow the religion and path of truth. The Janai must be worn every day of their life after they listen to the mantra from the guru given during the Bratabandha ceremony. The day before Janai Purnima persons wearing the sacred thread should make themselves “clean” by shaving, cutting their hair and taking a bath or going to the river and dipping themselves three times. Men also undergo a partial fast by taking only one meal of foods considered “clean.”  This means no meat, onions or garlic.

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Rice Planting Festival

The Rice Plantation Festival in Pokhara is a mud filled fun fest for all! Ashare Ropahi, named after a month in the Nepali Calendar, Ashare and Ropahi, which means sow the rice in the land.

According to Samir Baral, representative from the Pokhara Tourism Council, the sponsoring organization,the Festival began 14 years ago to protect the Nepalese culture. “It started as the Day We Need to Touch the Mud,” he explained. “Our organization wanted to provide a day to play with mud and to also remind our citizens and visitors about the value of the Earth and the Soil.”

He continued, “The value of planting our most important crop, rice, must be valued and needs to be protected. We want to involve the youth in our traditional form of agriculture and pass down our knowledge to younger and future generations.” Residents around the area of the rice fields will prepare and sell fresh traditional dishes that are eaten during the hot summer months. These foods, like curd, beaten rice with sugar, roti and aachar are known to pull heat from the body.

The day’s activities include: a plowing competition with Ox, a running race through the rice paddies, a tug of war in the mud and a competition to see who can plant the most rice in a specified amount of time.

A large number of fish are released in the paddies and in the “Let’s Go Fish” competition, contestants scramble to catch the slippery, squirmy aquatic vertebrates with their bare hands. The winners get to take home their catch and cook it for dinner! Live Traditional Nepali folk music will be provided for the tourists to enjoyso they can share in this typically local style of entertainment. Singing competitions will take place between local women’s community groups.

Wear your old clothes and prepare to get wet and dirty on June 29! The Pokhara Tourism Council will provide free shuttle busses from their office near Dihikopatan, Lakeside-6, Pokhara. Busses leave at 8:00 am. For more information go to: www. Pokharatourism.org.np. Or call 061-462489 or 061-462466. You can also email – tourismpokhara@gmail.com or info@pokharatourism.org.np

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