The Nepali calendar boasters and incredible amount of festivals. Some of the festivals are based on religion, some on social customs and traditions, and some others on important events that took place in the past. So, in Nepal festivals are put under three categories: Religious festivals, Social festivals and National festivals. All of these festivals are colorful and fun for the onlooker and provide a good source of interest and entertainment to locals and travelers alike.
Festivals like Dashain Tihar, Ram Nawami, Shivaratri, Christmas, Buddha Jyanti etc are religious festivals.
Festivals like Makar Sankranti, New Year Day, Lhosar, Chhat etc fall under social festivals.
Similarly there are some festivals celebrated by the followers of all religions, all societies and communities belonging to the country. These festivals are called nationals festivals. These are: Democracy Day (Falgun 7), Education Day (Falgyn12), Constitution Day (Kartik 23) etc.
In addition, Nepalese also celebrate certain days as international festivals like UNO Day (October 24), Human Rights Day (December 10), International New Years Day (January 1) etc.
Based on religion and social customs, there are a number of Jatra festivals celebrated mainly in the Kathmandu valley which are: Ghode Jatra, Indra Jatra, Ratha Jatra, Bhoto Jatra, Machhendra Jatra etc. Jatra festivals normally celebrate old social customs and beliefs within the Kathmandu valley. Jatra literally means a gathering of people observing a festival, normally at a religious site.
The best time to come to Nepal to celebrate some of these festivals is September – November. During these months you can witness tihar and dasain, considered as the main festival and holiday periods in Nepal. Tihar is the festival of lights and is a particularly pretty festival in Nepal. Tihar is also a celebration of brothers and sisters, where they prey for each others long and happy life. During the evenings, hundreds of candles are lit around the place and children walk from house to house singing and performing tricks.
Dasain is the main festival and holiday covering ten days. It celebrates the time when the god Ram killed a Devil bringing to the people happiness and peace. Dasain is a time of happiness and visiting families. People partake in playing on swings and giving gifts of new clothes. During this time many buffalo, pigs, goats and chickens are sacrificed to honor Ram.
Another good festival is Holy, celebrated in March; this is a most fun festival of color and water. Mainly celebrated by the young people whom wonder around the streets dousing all and sundry with water and color powder. If you come to Nepal during holy and venture outside, don’t mind to be smeared with color and bombed with water from giggling children.