With deep roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, the vast majority of Nepal’s festivals and celebrations are religious in nature. Long, multi-day festivals honor specific gods and sometimes animals, and there is a strong focus on family during the events. Among Nepal’s most notable festivals is the Cow Festival, commemorating the dead, and the 15-day Dashain festival worshipping the goddess mother.
April 1-4 annually
This annual six-day Hindu festival celebrates the Hindu goddess Durga, marking the victory of the goddess over an evil buffalo demon, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. The important religious event includes worship of nature, as well as the display of idols and imagery to commemorate the goddess.
14 April annually
Known as Nawavarsha in Nepalese, Nepal’s New Year usually falls around the second week of April. It is celebrated with picnics, parties, and other forms of socializing, and musicians perform throughout the country, and locals carry chariots of Hindu gods through the streets. The biggest party takes place in the Kathmandu valley.
May 3 2015
Celebrated by locals of Patan, Lalitpur in honor of the rain god Rato Machhendranath, this is Nepal’s longest running chariot festival. The events take place between April and May each year, and includes the construction of a 35-foot chariot, which is pulled through the old city, throughout the entire month of festivities.
May 4 May 21 2016
This celebration, on the most sacred day of the Buddhist calendar, is the most important festival for Buddhists. It holds special significance because it is the birthday of Buddha, and there is a fair held to commemorate the event at Lumbini, attended by Buddhist from all over the world, where Buddha is said to have been born.
August 29 2015
This festival, also known as the Sacred Thread Festival, involves Hindu men performing their annual change of Janai, a cotton string worn across the chest or the wrist, signalling their initiation into manhood. Females also tie a string around their wrist for protection. During the festival, there is a fair at Kumbeshwor in Lalitpur.
August 11 2016
Also known as the festival of cows, Gai Jatra commemorates the dead, and is one of Nepal’s most popular events. The main celebration takes place in the Kathmandu valley, and families who have lost a relative must parade through the streets, leading a cow. After the procession, people wear masks, sing songs, and tell jokes.
August 25 2016
This festival is a one-day annual celebration of the Hindu god Krishna’s birthday, celebrated throughout Nepal around the end of Summer. It involves dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, as well as fasting, devotional songs, dance, readings of religious scripture, and the exchange of gifts.
September 4 2016
Celebrated by the Khas women of Nepal to promote the wellness of their husbands, Teej is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Parvati. This three-day festival involves fasting and feasts. Both married and unmarried women participate, the latter group in hopes of being blessed with a good husband in the future.
September 25 2015
The celebration of god Indra’s day is marked by masked dances of deities and demons, among other religious imagery to honor the god. The festivities take place at Kathmandu Durbar Square, and together with the Kumari Jatra festival, which celebrates the goddess Kumari, go on for eight days.
October 1 2016
This 15-day-long Fall festival is Nepal’s longest and most auspicious, worshipping the goddess mother in all of her manifestations. Taking place throughout Nepal, there’s a strong emphasis on family and community gatherings during the event, and on honorable principles of truth, justice and virtue.
October 28 - November 1 2016
This festival, also known as Deepwali, takes place over five days in Nepal’s Terai region. All of the country’s ethnic groups celebrate this festival, worshipping the gods, as well as animals like the crow, cow, and dog, celebrating with lights being lit inside and outside of homes, and auspicious local snacks.