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Category - Culture & Festivals - Explore Himalaya Blog

Naga Panchami – a festival dedicated to serpents

Posted Aug 7th, 2016 under Culture & Festivals,

If the days were enough in a year, Nepal would probably be worshipping almost all the animals.

On the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shrawan, Hindus celebrate Naga Panchami – a festival dedicated to serpents. Snakes are considered as a god and have a huge cultural significance in Hindu Mythology. Naga means snake and Panchami are the fifth days of the bright half of Lunar month. The festival falls during the month of August every year.

Astika stops the snake sacrifice, the origin of celebration of Naagpanchami

Astika, the young Bramhin, stops the snake sacrifice

There are various stories in Hindus explaining the significance for worshipping serpents. The myth behind the celebration of Naag Panchami is from Mahabharata. Long ago, Janamejeye wanted to sacrifice all the serpents through with the help of Bramhins by erecting a sacrifice fireplace for the vengeance of his father’s death with a bite of the king of snake Takshaka. The powerful mantras caused all the serpents to fall in the sacrificial fireplace. A young Bramhin named Astika saved the serpent race by asking for a boon with Janamejeye who never said no to Bramhins. That day was also the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shrawan. Since then, on this day, serpents and snakes are worshiped.

People place the image of Naga on the door of their houses and worship it. Snakes are offered milk, sweet, flowers on the day of Naga Panchami. People also visit several temples related to serpents on this day. Changu Nararayan in Bhaktapur is one of the places to observe this festival.

The annual horse festival – Ghode Jatra

Posted Apr 4th, 2016 under Culture & Festivals,

rider on his full pas during ghode jatra

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.

members of the Nepalese army getting ready for the event of ghode jatra

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.

Tiji Festival Upper Mustang, the most beautiful blend of culture & nature

Posted Feb 3rd, 2016 under Culture & Festivals,

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.

Lo-Manthang, Upper Mustang where Tiji is celebrated

Lo-Manthang, the land of Los & the capital of Upper Mustang where Tiji is celebrated

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.

Masked dancers ready to perform traditional dances during the revered festival Tiji

 

Masked dancers ready to perform traditional dances during the revered festival Tiji

Masked dancers ready to perform traditional dances during the revered festival Tiji

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.

Rituals of Tiji, monks play vital roles

tiji-festival-upper-mustang

Rituals of Tiji, monks play vital roles

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.

Breathtaking landscapes on the way to Upper Mustang

Breathtaking landscapes on the way to Upper Mustang

Swasthani Brata Katha Begins- a month long fasting

Posted Jan 24th, 2016 under Culture & Festivals, Travel Guide,
swasthani-brata (2)

The Holy Book of Swasthani Brata Katha

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.

swasthani-brata (1)

People at Salinadi during Swasthani Brata last year

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

Posted Feb 12th, 2015 under Culture & Festivals, Wildlife & Bird Watching,

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.
best-of-nepal

 

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.

Happy Explorers

Overall it was a great trip. I was well taken care of in Beijing both in arrival and departure. My dealings with the representatives in Kathmandu was absolutely excellent.

- Tore Liahjell, USA Read Testimonials | Submit Your Testimonial

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