One of the oldest and longest chariot pulling festivals celebrated in the Kathmandu valley, the Rato Machhendranath Jatra(chariot pulling festival of the Rain God) began from yesterday, May 7, 2011. Rato Machhendranath is regarded as the rain god by the valley’s denizens. His chariot is pulled by devotees through the major localities of Lalitpur for about two months. The Bhoto Jatra at Jwalakhel square marks the end of the rain god’s journey.
Though the actual festival is celebrated on 19th March, Kathmandu is already celebrating Holi – the festival of colors. According to the valley’s custom the festival commences with the erection of the ceremonial bamboo pole, known as ‘Chir’ at the centre of Basantapur Durbar square. The ‘Chir’ is already standing aloft at its place with devotees having erected it on March 13th. The valley’s denizens began the festival by offering the first colors of Holi or abir (colored powder) to the pole. The festival reaches its climax on March 19th, when the whole city is a riot of colors with friend as well as strangers applying Holi on each other and splashing water from ‘pitchkaris‘ (sort of water gun), water balloons or buckets drenching all and sundry. There is much laughter and merriment as people join in the festivities.
Basant Panchami marks the end of cold Winter season and the onset of Spring. Basant Panchami is also dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning, Saraswati. This year Basant Panchami fell on 8th February, Tuesday. In Kathmandu a special function was organised at the Basantapur Durbar Square to mark the occasion. President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal among other officials attended the program.
On Tuesday (21st December 2010) two post- harvest festivals were celebrated by Nepal’s ethnic communities. While the Newars celebrated Yomari Punhi, the Kirants celebrated Sakela Udhauli.
Yomari Punhi is a post harvest festival celebrated by Newars which falls on the full moon day in the Nepalese month of Mangsir. During the festival Goddess Annapurna(the Goddess of Food Grains) is worshipped and sweetmeats are prepared from the newly harvested rice. Yomari – a sweetmeat of rice flour shaped like a fig and filled with jaggery and sesame seeds is prepared. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during Yomari Punhi.
During Udhauli festival (which runs for 15 days), the Kirant community offer prayers to Goddess Nature for good crops and protection from natural calamities. They worship Chandi or Goddess Durga by performing Chandi Nach.
Buddha Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Lord Gautam Buddha, is being observed today. Special programmes have been orgnized at various places including Lumbini the birth place of Lord Buddha. In Kathmandu a special programme has been organized at Swayambhunath , where participants will be lighting lamps and praying for peace and harmony.