Nepal is multicultural nation. There are more than 60 ethnic groups and almost all the communities have their own language. Nepal is a place of celebration and festivals which is connected with religion, tradition and social events. Nepal has festivals almost full year in one or other communities. There are communities in Nepal who have almost festivals and Jatras every day. Each day is full of joy and cultural events. Most of the festivals are observed according to the lunar calendar. Therefore, the festivals do not have the specific day matching solar calendar or English calendar’s date.
Most of the festivals and events including marriage ceremony are celebrated with music and songs. Most of fairs celebrated in Nepal have religious connotation and Music is integral part celebrations. The best part about the festivals in Nepal is that all the events are celebrated with the same enthusiasm and galore the way it used to be hundreds of years ago when people had no other means of entertainment.
Indra Jatra is a festival that is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, the ruler of heaven, the controller of the clouds and storm. The eight-day long festival is celebrated from Bhadra dwadsahi to Ashwin Krishna chaturdashi according to the lunar calendar, which falls during the months September or October as per Gregorian calendar.
As per the legend, Lord Indra disguised as an ordinary mortal descended in the valley to collect the “parijat” flower. While plucking the flower he was caught and was imprisoned by the locals. During the festival an image of Indra with his outstretched arms are bound alike a thief and kept for display. A white elephant symbolizing Indra’s vehicle is seen wondering in the streets of the square looking for his master. Legend also mentions that, Indra’s mother too came down to earth to investigate her son’s disappearance and learned that he was kept prisoner. Indra’s mother compensates for her sons release and promised to furnish the valley with fog and dew. She further promised to lead the soul of the ones died that year to heaven. The procession of “dagini” represents the above. Likewise, various other mask dancers in the form of Lakhe, Bhairav and other can be seen performing at the different parts of the city. The god of wrath "Bhairav"is also worshipped during the festival. The other major attraction of the festival is the “Kumari Jatra” which is a chariot pulling festival of the only living goddess accompanied by the Bhairav and Ganesh.
GaiJatra festival, the procession of cows, generally falls in the month of Bhadra, which correspond to English calendar months of August/September. The festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals in Nepal. It is said people in ancient time started worshiping Yamaraj, "The God of Death" on this day.
GaiJatra is a festival which enables people to accept the reality of death and to prepare oneself for the life after death. It heals the grief and sorrow, at least a little, when people see the cow possession and realize people die, and we are not alone in the country who lost our loved ones.
However, the modern form of celebration of GaiJatra came into existence in the medieval period of Nepal during the reign of Malla Kings. The present form of GaiJatra with humorous acts, parody, comedy and was started by then King of Kathmandu PratapMalla. He made Rani Pokhari (Pond) in the heart of Kathmandu and build a temple in the middle of the same pond.
Traditionally every family who had death in the family during the preceding year must participate in a procession through the streets of Kathmandu leading a cow. If a cow is unavailable then a young kids dressed as cow is considered a fair substitute. However, there started tradition of leading a cow with kids in funny costumes.
Bisket Jatra-Unique Newari Festival Celebrated Only In Bhaktapur is one of the most important festival that is celebrated every once a year in the month of April as it falls from the end of the Nepali month Chaitra. The day is also celebrated for welcoming the New Year festival of Nepal. The term BisketJatra is derived from Newari word Bi and Syaku which meaning snake laughter.
This festival is celebrated for 9 days where 4thday the people of Bhaktapur install a long pole with two plain white flags near Bhadrakali Pit and ChunpitGhat. These two plain flags symbolize the commitment of two snakes.