Teej literally means “third” and the third day after moonless night of Srawan Month of Hindu calendar is an auspicious celebration of Teej. Teej is the biggest festival for Hindu women of Nepal. The festival falls either in late July or in early August according to Gregorian calendar. The festival that commemorates Goddess Parvati wedlock with Lord Shiva is observed for everlasting intimacy between married couples, well being of family and purgation of soul and body. A three-day-long festival allows delicious late night feast as well as tests endurance during 24 hour long tough fasting.
Dancing square inside Pashupatinath
Brother carries his lil sis to take her inside Pashupatinath
Colorful umbrellas but same red saree
Teej, women awaiting for their turns to get inside the temple
A humble encounter- Hindu woman and a foreigner
Western lady has a beautiful “mehendi” colored in her hand
Teej Celebration in Nepal
The first day of Teej, Dar Khane Din (feast day prior to fasting) kicks off in a grand way. Women married and unmarried especially of Chettri and Brahmin ethnical tribes gather at their maternal locality. Everyone in red and green attire bedecked 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 sisters, nieces, cousins and daughters offering them complete liberty to enjoy this particular day. 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.
Women of different ages standing on a line to enter Pashupatinath Temple
Married women fast for husband’s prosperity, unmarried fast anticipating rightful husband
Let us all dance to please Lord Shiva
Adorned with jewelries and flowers- Teej
Give me some color- A Hindu woman having Mehendi
Hungry and thirsty still a smile dominates the face-its devotion
The second day of Teej is a fasting day. Some women go through tough fasting (24 hours without food and water) while others prefer liquids and fruits. Both married and unmarried women undertake fasting. Married women fast for the blessings of longlife, peace and prosperity of their husband and family. Unmarried fast to be blessed with rightful husband. Women sing and dance to the nearby Shiva Temple to be a part of mass fasting, dance and music.
The Final day of the festival is Rishi Panchami- a day dedicated to holy saints (Rishi refers to saints). After completion of prayer the previous day women satisfy seven saints offering them food, money and different gifts. They also offer prayers to saint deities bathing with red mud, and brushing with datiwan (a type of bush tree). This final ritual of Teej purifies body and soul of women freeing them from all their sins.
Teej in Pashupatinath
This temple dedicated to Shiva is painted red and green throughout during Teej. Several hundred thousand Hindu women throng to Pashupatinath. It looks like women hold 99% of total population of Kathmandu. Everywhere we see women and girls in beautiful red and green attires waiting to enter the temple. Inside the temple thousands stand in a line to enter main temple of Pashupatinath, thousands gather at a place to dance with the music and another thousands are wondering to figure out what to do next. It looks like a world of women devotee fasting hard for the longevity and prosperity of their men and family. Unique in a sense- women celebrate but worship a male deity and hardship of fasting women suffer is credited for well-being of men.
Nepal celebrates numerous unique festivals every year. Unique in terms of practice in the other parts of the world; Nepal shares its cultural bond somewhat with India however, the celebration of festivals having same religious importance are different. Among many unique festivals of Nepal, Janai Purnima-the festival of holy thread stands out unique as mantra poured strings are considered powerful protection bonds.
Janai purnima, a holy thread festival for the Hindus most of the years fall on full moon day of August. On this day Hindu men, especially the Brahmans and Chettris perform their annual ritual bath and change their old holy thread (janai) with the new one diagonally across their torso. However, this holy thread is granted to only Hindu males during the religious ceremony, Bartabandan that indicates them of entering the manhood from the childhood. Devotees throng to Kumbeshowr Mela Lalitpur on Janai Poornima to offer prayers to Lord Shiva and tie the thread knot around the wrist. This knot is also called as Rakshya Bandan. Hence, the festival is also celebrated as Rakshya Bandan.
Rakshya refers to “protection and bandhan refers to “bond” so the knot tied around the wrist is basically a protection bond as per Hindu myth. Regardless of gender and caste, every Hindu ties this protection bond around their wrists during Rakshya Bandhan. Males tie it on right wrist whereas; females tie it on left. Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, Kumeshowr in Patan, Gosain Kunda in Rasuwa, Dudh Kunda in Solukhumbu, Ganga Dhanusagar in Janakpur, Dansadhuma in Jumla, and Vageshowr in Dadeldhura among others, are the major destinations where Janai Purnima or Rakshya Bandhan is celebrated hugely. The major dish during the festival is kwati (a sprout dish of nine types of beans)
The same festival is celebrated as Rakhi in Terai Regions of Nepal. Sisters tie colorful threads on their brother’s wrists. They exchange gifts and brothers vow to protect their sisters lifelong on this revered festival. The Indian communities living in Nepal also celebrate Rakhi.
The sleeping posture of Lord Vishnu in a Cosmic Ocean
Nine kilometers North from the main hub of Kathmandu City lies the temple of Budhanilkantha which is believed to be self emerged. The temple lying at the base of Shivpuri Hill has a floating deity Bishnu, one of the major Gods of Hindu trios. The sleeping posture of Vishnu which is called Jalasayan with his legs crossed on a bed of large 11 hoods serpent is strangely divine in itself. His four hands holding the four symbols of Lord Vishnu, the conch shell, the disc, the club and the lotus flower is gigantic in size floating in relatively small pool supposed to be cosmic ocean by Hindu devotees.
During Haribodhini Ekadashi which normally falls during late October or early November of Georgian Calendar, Hindus believe that Lord Vishnu who sleeps on the cosmic ocean wakes up and on that day thousands of devotees throng to Budhanilkantha to offer prayers to Lord Visnhu. Touching the legs of this sleeping deity on that day is considered very religious as per the Hindu belief.
Here we have few photographs of Budhanilkantha captured during the Nepalese New Year.
The sacred pond from where the new year can be best started
Crowd, hard to control
Butterlights and incense sticks everywhere
Gods of every religion like flowers
A senior citizen probably wants to know the future of her family
Patience to touch the feet of Lord Vishnu
One common thing in Hindu temples- Ladies in red attires
Mass gathered at Kathmandu Durbar Square to celebrate Holi
One of the major Hindu festivals, Holi is celebrated with passion and jollity on the full moon day in the month of Falgun which normally falls during the month of March of Gregorian calendar.
Entire country drowns into the festive mood when its holi. Water filled balloons and the colors occupy the entire atmosphere while people celebrate Holi. Colorful faces drenched with water, wonder everywhere during Holi. Holi welcomes spring season and hence it is also called a spring festival. Even nature seems to rejoice when its time to play Holi.Fields full with crops indicates a good harvesting season and the flowers color the surroundings filling aromatic fragrance in the air.
Every destination today is a celebration point
Festival celebrated to enjoy the victory of good over evil has several myths. However, the most popular myth is itself a very interesting story. Hiranya Kashyap, a demon king wanted his son Prahlad to be killed as Prahald was one of the biggest devotees of Lord Bishnu. Hiranya Kashyap who considered Bishnu as his biggest enemy was so furious at his son. After several attempts to change his son’s perception he failed and hence he decided to get his own son killed. So he ordered his sister Holika to step in to the burning fire with Prahald in her laps. Holika was privileged with a boon to survive inside the fire. As ordered, Holika entered the fire with Prahald. But, to surprise Holika the most fearsome manifestation of Narasimha emerged from nowhere. Narasimha’s body was of Human and its head was of animal. Holika burnt to ashes and Narasimha tore Hiranyakashyap chest to death and saved Prahald. From then onwards Holi has been observed to celebrate the victory of Lord Bishnu over evil Holika and Hiranya Kashyap as per the Hindu myth.
To capture the moment of Holi, you have to be the part of it
Kathmandu Durbar Square is the major site of Holi celebration in Nepal. Mass, music, colors and fun, what else would anyone look for when everyone there is celebrating this festival of colors and water in the friendliest mood possible. Here we have a photo gallery on Holi celebrated at Kathmandu Durbar Square and in the streets of Kathmandu.