Nepal is well-known for its colourful festivals and culture, and the annual Horse festival is example of the diverse festival celebrated in Kathmandu Valley. Every year, on no-moon day of Chaitra Sukla Pakshya of Lunar calendar Nepalese Army and Nepal police host the annual horse racing and skills demonstration event. The Gorkhalis perform different stunts and parade on the horseback in the premises of Tundikhel . This occasion falls on March or early April of Gregorian calendar.
According to legends Ghode Jatra was organized to celebrate the victory over a demon named Tundi who rested over the field known as Tundikhel, at the center of Kathmandu Valley. Tundi was a terror for the citizens of Kathmandu. When he died people cheered by dancing onto his body with horses. It is believed that galloping of horses on Ghode Jatra at Tundikhel keeps the demon’s sprit under the ground. Especially Newar community of Kathmandu valley perform Puja and perform animal sacrifices for the eight goddesses at different Shaktipiths (power centres) including Bhadrakaali, Kankeshwori and Mahankal.
The forbidden kingdom, the city of walls or the Land of Los, with whatever names it is popular amongst the trekkers, Upper Mustang is one of the ancient towns of highland Nepal catering extremely unique culture of Tiji Festival that has been the way of life in the region for ages.
Nestling in the rain shadow of dazzling Dhaulagiri, Upper Mustang, a fabled town was the ancient trading center for the people of the region including the drokpas of Tibet. No wonder, sighting the best preserved Tibetan Culture in Upper Mustang could be the prime highlight for many despite the amazing landscapes trekkers get to see during Trek.
Today’s blog is on the most fascinating festival of Upper Mustang. Tiji, a three day celebration that manifests the victory of good over evil is an exciting festival for a traveler to experience.
Fusioned with rewarding Upper Mustang Trek, Tiji Festival in the recent years is not only the popular religious event for the natives; travelers’ interest in closely observing the religious rituals of the festival has heightened the importance of the festival.
The myth related with the festival is as equally fascinating as it is celebrated. The myth relates the battle of God Dorje Jano against his evil father who created water shortage in the region with the motive to harass the natives that ultimately led chaotic circumstances. The battle went on for days and finally the good Dorje Jano was victorious, being able to banish the evil from the region. Since then the festival is celebrated to prevent the revival of the evil soul with several religious rituals that includes, masked dances, holy music, intense prayers and the burning of the evil soul. Monks performing “TSA CHHAM” dance on the first day of the festival and “NGA CHHAM” on the second day is fascinating to watch; whereas the final day of the festival observes the burning of evil soul.
Tiji 2016 begins on 4th May and ends on the 6th. The trip for Tiji Festival 2016 departs on 26 April. A wonderful hiking journey that caters the Himalayan landscapes at its best blended with the barren highland deserts, each having interesting myths along with the myths associated with the cave burials has all to make it a hiking journey of a lifetime. Moreover, the fascinating Tibetan Buddhist culture that observes the most unique festival would undoubtedly make this trip of yours a great holiday; equally wonderful culturally and naturally.
Swasthani Brata, devoted to Goddess Swasthani begins on 23 Jan Saturday. The fasting (Brata) that lasts for a month falls during January & February every year starting from Poush Sukhla Purnima(Full Moon Day of 9th month) and will end on the day of Magh Sukla Purnima(Full Moon Day of 10th Month).
During this period, Hindu devotees take a month long strict fasting. They worship the goddess Shree Swasthani and read or hear the Swasthani Brata Katha (Tale of Swasthani) with the belief that the hardships they go through during a month long fasting will fulfill their wishes.
Just 17km far from Kathmandu lies a holy river of Salinadi, which is the centre of devotees during the Swasthani Brata. According to the myth, Chadrawati who was cursed by the god, took an advice from a fairy and went through tough fasting beside this river to please Godess Swasthani. Later when she succeeded to please the goddess, she got freed from all her sins and was granted with the blessings. Thereafter, fasting during this period beside Salinadi has been a tradition.
Best of Nepal caters the best glimpses of Nepal’s culture, wildlife and natural magnificence. However, the best of Nepal tour does not include trekking activity in Nepal. Kathmandu valley a political and the commercial hub of Nepal is also the center of medieval culture, amazing landmarks and spirituality. Pokhara, a nature’s bride surrounded by lush hills wows on its natural wonders that include deep emerald lakes, deep seated caves & gorges and the fascinating mountain views. Chitwan in close proximity to urban life caters the extreme thrills of wildlife tours in Nepal that include Elephant Safari, Nature Walk and the canoe ride.
Recently Ms. Margaret Parker from United Kingdom had a visit to Nepal. Here is what she says about her trip:
Due to the bad weather in Nagarkot, I couldn’t see any sign of Mountains. However, my guide who went out of his way and took me to elevated viewpoint in Pokhara, where I saw the wonderful view of Mountains including Annapurnas turned out to be the best memory of my trip.
Explore Himalaya’s meeting and handling was excellent. The hotels were very good. Guide were both great at Pokhara & Kathmandu. All the staffs were good. The transportation was also excellent.
I can’t really single out anything but any traveler willing to visit Nepal do not need to hesitate to book their trip with Explore Himalaya.
“Why do people pray God, is it because of their faith in divinity or their fear to assumed power of divinity? Sometimes, we also get to hear about devotees love and dedication towards the divinity.”
Several Hindu myths suggest an idea that God dwells everywhere, even inside the bodies of all living creatures including Humans. Praying the God dwelling inside our body is in a way praying oneself. The tradition of worshipping oneself has been the old practice to Newar Community in Nepal. Mha Puja referring “I” for Mha & “Prayer” for Puja is an annual ceremony in Newari Community in Nepal that worships oneself.
Celebrated on the fourth day of the vibrant festival Tihar, Newar community all over Nepal celebrates Mha Puja with great enthusiasm every year. This day also marks the New Year according to the Newar calendar i.e. Nepal Sambat. Mha Puja refers to self worshipping and cleansing of mind and soul through various rituals. Worshipping the body during Mha puja significantly mean to empower and purify one’s soul as a part of New-year celebration.
“Some also say that Mha puja is an act of purification of the body, mind and soul for enlightenment against ignorance and evils of the world.”
Buddhist Newars also believe that the puja as a promising start to the New Year to gain the 32 features of Buddha through principles of optimism and good deed.
Mha puja is performed generally on the floor in the dining area. The process varies from people to people but the elements used are same for all. There are basically eight different elements used for Mha puja that are Manda or Mandala, Itaa, fruits, Jajanka (holy thread), Mari (sweets), Dhau (yogurt), Tika and Thoo (home brewed liquor).
Mha Puja this year is on 12th November and from 11th to 13th November of 2015 Hindus of Nepal observes their second largest festival Tihar, which is also the festival of lights, music, loads of fun and cards. On the evening of 12th November the Newari households across Nepal shall be performing Mha Puja and anyone willing to capture the moments of Mha Puja and be the part of it can find a Newari House in the neighborhood.