Monsoon: Season of Festivals

Posted Jul 30th, 2017 under Luxury Tours, Photo Essay, Special Events, Tourism News,

Monsoon season in Nepal brings joy and happiness for everyone. It is the main season for agriculture as well as the season of the festival in Nepal. A monsoon festival falls on different date every year.

 

During monsoon season, Seasonal tourism activities in Nepal are low in numbers and trekking in monsoon season is not favorable time. However, during monsoon season, Pilgrimage tourists are high in number; especially from India. They prefer to visit Muktinath and Mansarovarduring monsoon season as these places are rainy shadowed area. But from the cultural point of view; monsoon season is best time to observe Nepalese cultural way of Living, festivals, Monsoon cycle of agriculture and Lush green valley’s with seasonal crops.

Festivals fall on Monsoon

                Enjoying throwing Hilo ”wet mud” during Ropai ” Paddy Plantation

15th Ashar (June) is celebrated as Paddy Plantation day  “RopaiJatra” all around Nepal. RopaiJatra“is a most awaiting and cheerful time for farmers. This day symbolizes the end of the rice planting period, a day when all farmers enjoy the end of the plantation of rice and wishes for good production. As an entertainment, they will sing a Nepalese folk songs and dance in rhythm on field while cultivating the crops mainand as lunch they will have homemade yogurt and beaten rice and drink a special kind of local drink called ‘Chyang’, which basically is made up of fermented rice.

On this day, especially Pokhara and Kathmandu (being a touristic area), different programs are being held targeting the foreigners, on the muddy flied to show Nepalese culture and traditional way of farming. This festival has been able to attracted many tourists though the festival is quite weird, yet fun. And the number of tourist wanting to participate on this festival is increasing. On this day especially for the foreigners, a travel and tour offices organizes a program/event for “Paddy Plantation” festival. This program is all about planting rice, playing around with mud, dancing in a traditional Nepalese folk song and not to forget to test traditional foods. Not only that, you can have an opportunity to communicate with Local Nepalese families which will help to learn about the Nepalese life style, culture and tradition.

                          Nag Panchami and JanaiPurnima/ RachayaBandan:  

This following year Nag Panchami and JanaiPurnima festival falls on same day.The festival Nag Panchami,Picture of Nags is posted above the doors of Nepali households with the belief of keeping away the evil spirits.

Normally, the priest visit door to door carrying the poster of Nags, Dubo (Cynodondactylon. Priest paste the poster of Nag with the help of cow dung, post a coin and Dubo. People offer milk in the temples of Nag Pokharai (snake pond) Naxal /Kathmandu and NagDaha (Snake Lake) in Lalitpur.       

                                             Naag Poster, Doro and Rakhi”

According to the Puran”Ancient Scriptures”, the earth is lifted by Shesh Nag on his head with Lord Vishnu Sleeping on its coil inside the ocean. Shesh Nag, BasukiNag,KaliNag,AsthaNag,Padma Nag and Karkot Nag are the most powerful Nags in Hindu religion.

Ancient Scriptures also mentioned that without Nags, the rainfall will not be possible, that’s why people worship Nags for causing the rain fall.

Janai Purnima is the festival of the Holy Thread which is also falls on same day of NaagPanchami

On this day every Hindu/Buddhist tied a Yellow, red colorful cotton strings in wrist of right hand. Nepalese people call it Doro.Especially Brahmins and Chettri change theirJanai, once a year. White cotton string wears on his chest or tied around the wrist of his/ her hand.  In every house this day, cooks mixed of every grain Quawati “and eat together with family members.

Similarly, this is also a day of Rachaya Banda, Rachya means to protect and Bandan means bond of togetherness. Where sister tie the rakhi on brother wrist, pray for the long life and success of her brother.Brother promise sister to protect from every harm and give gifts and sisters

                      Brahmin “Priest: tiding a sacred thread   Sacred thread (Local Nepali Word “Janai”

                                                                                    Gaijatra:  August

 Gaijatrais the festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal. GaiJatra festival came in the tradition of the medieval period of Nepal, under the reign of the kings JayasthitiMalla.  

According to traditions since time immemorial, every family who lost a family member during one year period must participate in a procession in the streets.Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and PatanNewar community follow this tradition. If a cow is unavailable then a young boy dressed as a cow is regarded as a fair substitute.

In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most respected among all pets. It is believed that the cow, venerated as a sacred animal by Hindus, will help the deceased parent’s journey to heaven.

Stick dance (Typical Newari word: Ghintangghisitwakin Bhaktapur

                                                        PATAN: KRISHNA MANDIR

Krishna Janmastami is one of the popular festivals in Hindu religion. It is a festival celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna. Krishna is believed as the eighth incarnation of lord Vishnu and powerful. It is celebrated as victory of good over evil and their power.

All the devotees gather in Krishna Mandir, the ancient Krishna Temple in Patan other temples which is the symbol of Lord Sir Krishna.

                                        Baby dress up like Krishana

                                                                    Teej:  August

Teej is also known by the HariTalikaTeej. It is biggest festival and celebrated by Nepali women all across the world. Every Married women,Child and Young girls wears red and green attire decorated with jewelries gather at a place where they enjoy singing and dancing. Songs normally have words that describe the holiness and divine power of Lord Shiva. The musical celebration goes till midnight. Meanwhile, men of the maternal family host feast for their married sisters and daughters offering them complete liberty to enjoy this particular day.

Foreigners Joining Dance with Local Nepalese Women in Teej Festival

After the feast, a 24-hour long fast begins. Teej, a traditional festival where women also express their pains through the lyrics of the songs they sing while dancing.

According to the Holy Purans say that “on this day the Himalaya’s Daughter Goddess Parbati had finally receive Lord Shiva after her long time of devotions towards him.From this day, Teej festival was celebrated.                        

Married women’s take fast for the long life of their husband, good health of their children. And young ladies take fast in desire to get their dream husband.

Rishipanchami:

Rishipanchamiis the last day of Teej and women worship Sapta Rishi (seven saints). In Hindu religion, menstruation is taken as a symbol of impurity and women are not supposed to take part in religious performance during their periods. Hence, it is believed that Rishi Panchami is the occasion to wash off one’s impurity of the entire year

 IndraJatra: September

 Indrajatrais the celebration of God Indra” the god of Rain, King of Heaven”. This festival begins each year from the day of BhadraDwadasi to Aswin Krishna Chaturdasi according to the lunar calendar, which falls during place to celebrate is in Kathmandu Durbar Square which is known as Basantapur Durbar.

Bhairav a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva

The Kumari (living goddess), departs the shelter of her temple in a palanquin and leads a parade through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra. The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons.           

According to myth, Indra’s mother Dagini wanted night-flowering coral jasmine “PARIJAT” tree in the gardens of heaven to perform some ritual and Indra disguised as human and came to Earth for the plant. While Indra was stealing the plant from a garden in Kathmandu Valley, the communities captured him. Unknown to the fact that the God of Rain was captured Kathmandu suffered extreme dryness; however, the capturers would not free Indra. Dagini came down to the earth in search of her son and discovered that the people of Kathmandu held him caged

Upon Dagini’s request, the people of Kathmandu agreed to free Indra. Pleased with the kindness of the people of Kathmandu, Dagini promised for the timely rainfall and good harvest. She also took all the people of Kathmandu who died that year to the heaven. Since then IndraJatra is observed enthusiastically in Kathmandu Durbar Square.

                                                                           Chariot of living Goddess Kumari

“Pottery Making Culture in Bhaktapur”

Posted Jul 24th, 2017 under Special Events, Tourism News,

“Enjoy the authentic traditional lifestyle in the world of pottery”.

Apart from all challenging trek and adventure in the natural world of Nepal, there is another beautiful “world of Culture & Traditions” that takes you deep into the traditional local lifestyle. That is pottery making culture in Bhaktapur. Pottery is the art of shaping the clay into various things.

              A clear view of Pottery Square in Bhaktapur. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

Whenever we think about the pottery making, the first thing that comes in our mind might be a beautiful flower pot/vase made of clay (Gamala) or might be a piggy bank (Khuturke).

Flower Pots (Gamala) displayed for selling in Pottery Square. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

If anyone would like to get the experience of making the clay pots and the local traditional lifestyle in Bhaktapur, then spending around a week in the pottery square of Bhaktapur can fulfill one’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of local life. Pottery Square is a beautiful place in the south of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The settlement of a specific ethnic group of “Newar “ community called “Prajapati “can be seen here living together in unity and harmony. These people are hard working and artistic in nature that are not only dedicated in their work, but also are equally accountable for hospitable environment.

Pottery Making Process: The pottery making is a process and Yes, it is not a simple task as it seems. Being a kind of family business, all the family members have their own part of the role, working together in creating a finished pot. Firstly, the special clay “Black Clay”, supple in nature has to be brought from the field by digging out around 10-12 feet down the surface and need to be smoothened. After that, the old men, the experienced experts, craft the clay into spectacular shape/vessels, and women are in charge of looking after the pots kept for drying and coloring.

Pottery making in a traditional wooden wheel (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

                              Coloring process (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

The whole pottery square area is filled with these colorful pots during the sunny day. Younger men/women are often engaged in carrying heavy heaps of pots from one place of the square to the other.

Pots drying out on a Sunny day. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

The final process includes the firing of pots, which is one of another highlight of pottery making. All the prepared raw clay pots are placed along with straw in the layer wise. After all the pots are kept, it is then covered by ashes from the top, while the fire is given from the bottom and takes 3-4 days to get fired. It is the traditional way of pottery firing. 

Preparation for firing the pots with straw arranged in many layers (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

In this way, the pots will be ready after all the hard working of artists. However, it would not get the complete fairness in terms of learning process until you go there and work as a local people, playing and shaping the clay by your own hands.

Explore Himalaya with All Hands group in Everest Base Camp Trek

Posted May 24th, 2017 under Company News, Special Events, Tourism News, Trekking & Hiking,

Ultimate goal is to reach base camp and stand at the altitude of 5337m

Explore Himalaya recently organized the Everest base camp trek and Island peak summit for All Hands Volunteers for the second time under the name of All Hands on Everest Challenge 2017.The group consisted if 12 members from whom 9 took part in for Everest base Camp trek and 3 participants joined for Island Peak.

The group move towards the small village Phakding at the altitude of 2610m

On the following day, the group moved towards Tengboche located at 3,867 meters and visited Tengboche Monastery, which is the largest Gompa in the Khumbu region. As the weather was clear, they got a chance to see the surrounding mountains like Thamserku, AmaDablam, Nuptse, Lotse and Mount Everest.

Tengboche Monastery – Largest Gumpa in Khumbu region

Magnificent view of Himalayas from Tengboche

The next day, group reached at Pheriche at the altitude of 4371 meter where they also rested for acclimatization. From Pheriche, the group split into two and headed for Everest base camp and Island Peak.

Island peak group with their guides

On the way to Gorakshep

After reaching Gorakshep, the group decided to continue their journey towards Base camp which is the final destination for the group on the same day. 2 hours of walk through the rocks they successfully reached at Everest base camp.

Glacier seen on the way to Base Camp

Groups celebrating the happiness to be in the base camp

After completing the base camp challenge the group descended back to Lukla with having overnight in Pheriche and Namche. On 18th of May, the group completed the trek and flew to Kathmandu on 19th May. After landing in Kathmandu, the group had a whole day for their own and later they had a dinner with cultural dance show in Thamel. All the group members enjoyed the dinner by dancing, singing and sharing their memorable stories during the trek.

Groups celebrating the happiness to be in the base camp

 

After completing the base camp challenge the group descended back to Lukla with having overnight in Pheriche and Namche. On 18th of May, the group completed the trek and flew to Kathmandu on 19th May. After landing in Kathmandu, the group had a whole day for their own and later they had a dinner with cultural dance show in Thamel. All the group members enjoyed the dinner by dancing, singing and sharing their memorable stories during the trek.

Group posing for Photo shout near Hillary Bridge

Overall, the trip was successfully completed and the members were very satisfied with the service of Explore Himalaya / All hands and found this trip as one of the best memorable trip of their lifetime. Thank you for All Hands for making us a part of this memorable trip.

Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur- “A culturally adventurous festival, which takes you deep into well preserved heritage sites of the newar community in Bhaktapur”

Posted May 11th, 2017 under Company News, Culture & Festivals, Special Events, Tourism News,

Among the many local festivals in Bhaktapur, “Bisket Jatra” is one of the main enthusiastically celebrated festivals, which falls on the month of April. It is observed annually, four days prior to Nepali New Year (Baisakh) and last for next nine days.  It is a festival of chariot pulling, erecting a large wooden pole (Yoshin Deo/Lingo) in two different places of Bhaktapur, one is in Pottery Square, which is locally known as “Talako” and next is in Yoshin Khel/Bhelukhel. Tongue-piercing and Sindur Jatra are other highlights of Bisket Jatra celebrated in Thimi, Bhaktapur.

First day of Bisket Jatra begins by enshrining the wrathful God Bhairab and Goddess Bhadrakali in their respective chariots, which brought out from the sacred temple. It takes place in Taumadi Sqaure, near Nytapole Temple (Five storied Temple) with the various ritual processes. In the same evening, both the chariots are being pulled by hundreds of people as tug of war from eastern (upper) and western (lower) part of the Taumadi Sqaure. Both the parties try to draw the chariot to their direction, but as this first day is Deo kwayo Bijaayegu, which means “ God comes down to the mass of people from his own sacred home” as a ritual, the chariots are to be pulled down toward the west direction from Taumadi Square.

On the second and third day, the particular group who takes care of these chariots performs various rituals. Local people visits and offer Puja to the God and Goddess, which was pulled on the first day.

The fourth day is the last day of the year, according to the Nepali Calendar and the very special day of the festival. On this day, two poles are erected in two different areas of Bhaktapur. The first pole is erected in the morning in the Pottery square (Approx time is at around 11 AM to 1 PM). All the local peoples actively participate in the process of erecting the pole successfully. Once, it is erected, people perform various ritual and offer puja.

 

Similarly, another pole with two extended arms is erected in the evening in Bhelu Khel (Approx time is at around 6 PM-12 PM) with great excitement. The huge crowd gathered for this occasion and sings songs of joy during the procession. Energetic youths attempt to climb the pole, using big ropes in order to get the plants placed on its top. It is believed that anyone who is able to do so will increase his chances of siring a male child. On the same evening, the chariots are also being pulled into this area.

 

The pole in Pottery Square remains standing for another five long days, while the wooden pole of Bhelu Khel is kept for only 24 hours. 

Another day is the fifth day of the festival, which begins with gathering of huge masses of devotees in Bhelukhel and in Pottery Square. Devotees from the whole city in the early morning sacrifice cocks and goats to the chariots of God Bhairab and Bhadrakali. Apart from that, people offer puja to other Gods and Goddess like Ganesh, Barahi, Mahakali, Mahalaxmi in their own locality. Afterwards this event is followed by a big feast all over Bhaktapur. In the evening, the lingo in Bhelu Khel is pulled down. This is the moment of danger and excitement too.

 

The following day is the sixth day of the festival. On this day, devotees in Thimi celebrate the Bisket Jatra by welcoming the advent of spring and New Year by throwing vermilion powder over each other, as Sindur Jatra. Beside this, tongue piercing Jatra is also observed.  One of the volunteers from the Shrestha family gets his tongue pierced in a spiritual trance with an iron spike and walks around the town shouldering a round bamboo rack with flaming torches. With this extreme ascetic practice, the person is supposed to secure his place in heaven. Tongue piercing is the ceremony that takes place during the chariot demonstration.

 In the same way, Kha lawayaakeu jaatra (God and Goddess from two opponents getting together) is celebrated in various areas. In Pottery Square, small chariots of Lord Ganesh and God Bhairabs’ from two different places are brought together and throw vermillion powder to each other marking as Sindhur Jatra. Further, In the Suryamadi tole (which is the eastern part from Dattatreya Temple), Jatra is observed by carrying the small chariots of God Bramayeni and Maheshori. In this way, Bisket Jatra is celebrated in different places of the city on their own local god and goddess.

 

The seventh day of the festival is also celebrated by worshipping their local God and Goddess in different areas. People from different places gather together to celebrate the festival. They invite their friends, family and relatives for the special feast.

The second last day of the festival is celebrated by offering the various delicious food items to all the local God and Goddess of Bhaktapur city. On this day, most people wear their own traditional dress and visit the whole city in a procession and offer varieties of food items, sweets, fruits to all the local God and Goddess. This day is full of crowd with the traditional music, dance with great enjoyment.

The ninth day is the last day of the festival. The pole, which was erected before 5 days in Pottery Square, is drawn down today performing various rituals. In the evening, chariots of God Bhairab and Goddess Bhadrakali are pulled towards the upward direction, as “Deo tha bijaayegu” which means “God now return back to his own sacred home”. All the peoples gather together and play various traditional musical instruments marking as the end of the festival “Bisket jatra”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Yoga Day – Nepal the ideal destination for Yoga holidays-Re Post

Posted Apr 25th, 2017 under Special Events, Tourism News, Trekking & Hiking,

The practice of Yoga dates back to the time of Mahabharata, where Saints and Sadhus used to practice this ancient art of mental and spiritual discipline.

The history of yoga dates back to fifth century BC, in the ancient Indian sub-continent. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Yoga Gurus from the sub-continent introduced yoga to the west. Yoga is a physical exercise, which has spiritual and meditative benefits. It has been important part of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

YOGA

Yoga is channeling the mental and spiritual strength of the body with the help of physical posture and exercise.

June 21st International Yoga Day is celebrated in Nepal, and yoga demonstrations and lectures are held all over the country. Most of the demonstrations are held for all the general public and some special programs are conducted for the special members or invitees. Birjung, Biratnagar, and Kathmandu among other cities are the annual hosts for these events.

yoga1

 Nepal houses more than 400 Yoga and Meditation centers all over the country and it has been a favorable yoga destination since 1950s.

Nepal is an ideal destination for practicing the ancient art of yoga. Lush green vegetation and peaceful environment in the lap of Himalayas offers a wonderful opportunity for anyone who wishes to practice this ancient art of reviving mental and spiritual strength- Yoga.

Tour Date 2015-06 Blog post date 2015-06-21

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