Experience Nepals Festivals with Namaste Journeys
Known as the Festival of Colour, Holi is one of the Hindu calendar’s most vibrant celebrations, with the tradition dating as far back as the 4th century. It marks the triumph of good over evil and the arrival of spring, with Hindus and non-Hindus alike taking to the streets to shower one another in coloured powders and throw water balloons. The festival is believed to take away all sorrow and renew broken relationships, with participants in high spirits as they laugh, play and feast on Holi delicacies together.
Holi takes place over two days, beginning on the full moon evening of Purnima in the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar month of Phalguna. Dung cakes and wood are burned on a pyre, symbolising Vishnu’s burning of the devil Holika. The following day, Rangwali Holi, is marked by the colourful (and often raucous) celebrations most often associated with the festival, which takes place outside temples, in parks and throughout the open streets.
Those traveling with us at this time will experience first-hand the energy and spirit of Holi, with drummers and musicians leading the festivities in song and dance and anyone considered fair game for a splash of colour!
One of Nepal’s biggest annual festivals is Tihar, or the Festival of Lights, which takes place over five days in late autumn (October/November) to honour the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi. Lights known as diyas adorn Hindu homes and rangoli floor designs are created using coloured rice and flower petals to serve as a sacred welcoming space for the gods. The divine connection between humans and animals is also celebrated, with crows, dogs and cows all honoured.
The first day of Tihar sees rice offered to crows who are considered the “messenger of death”, ensuring bad news is averted for the coming year. Dogs are honoured on the second day as the “guardians of death”, with garlands, tika and generous offerings of food. Cows are worshipped on the third day, having long symbolised prosperity and wealth in the Hindu tradition, before homes are cleaned and entrances adorned in marigold garlands and makhamali flowers.
Lamps and candles are illuminated in the evening to thank Laxmi, with Nepali girls going from house to house singing and dancing. Pujas are performed on the fourth day to worship the self and the sacred mountain of Govardhan as the new Nepal Sambat calendar year begins. The final day sees sisters offering sweets and performing pujas for their brothers in thanks for their protection throughout the year.
Tihar is one of the most beautiful times to be in Nepal, with the streets of Kathmandu illuminated in fairy lights and celebratory fireworks igniting the sky.