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Nepal Information in General

A comprehensive description on Nepal information that gives an overall impression of this country about history, geography, religions, cultures and major places of interest is available for the travellers to Nepal.

History:

The history of Nepal centers and begins from Kathmandu. Nepal remained engaged with neighboring India and China (Tibet) to have its boundary extended for centuries. During the course of time, Kathmandu developed as a center of power in politics and art and culture in social life. The civilization started from Kathmandu along with the origin of Gopal (the cow keepers), Mahispal (the buffalo keepers), Kirats and Lichhavis. After Lichhavis, the Malla dynasty started and it was the golden age to enrich Nepal in art and culture. The Mallas also shaped the religious and artistic landscape by introducing the chariot festivals such as Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra and Machhendranath Jatra. They also established the living goddess ‘Kumari’ as reincarnation of Hindu god Vishnu to bless the Malla rulers for their long life. Then the Shahs came in power. King Prithvi Narayan Shah from a small hilly Kingdom Gorkha established this dynasty.

There were several smaller kingdoms in Nepal and Gorkha was one of them. King P.N. Shah decided to unify Nepal as a one Kingdom and he started to conquer Kathmandu. The Shahs lost their power by a massacre called Kot Massacre and Jung Bahadur Rana became the Prime Minister of Nepal. After Ranas, Shahs came into power again and democratic system established in 1950. However, they thought that the system was incomplete. Shahs became more ambitious and King Mahendra started a system called ‘Panchayat’ in 1960. Again the people’s movement in 1990 abolished Panchayat system and restored the democracy. In the meantime, an armed group called Maoists started the people’s war which settled with all party movement II in 2006 only and totally abolished the monarchy from Nepal. The Constituent Assembly of Nepal promulgated a new constitution with federal system finally in 2015.

Geography:

Nepal is roughly rectangular in shape and sandwiched between two big Asian powers-China and India. It is sometimes referred to as “a yam between two hard rocks”. The majestic Himalayas are the beauty of the country; in Sanskrit it means the house of snow. So, Nepal is very mountainous and hilly. Nepal is also popular as the biggest natural museum in the world. It is about 850 kilometers long from the East to the West and about 200 kilometers wide from the North to the South that comprises a total of 147,181 square kilometers of land. Nepal is a landlocked country surrounded by India on three sides (East, West and South) and by China’s Autonomous Region Tibet to the north.

Nepal has a great geographical diversity ranging from the Terai located at about 65 meters above sea level in the south to further as high as 8,848 meters, the famous Mount Everest in the north. ‘Sagarmatha’ is the Nepali name of Mt. Everest which means the top of the head. There are other high mountains in the north that are above 8,000 meters such as Kanchenjunga, Annapunra, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Lhotse. Nepal has three geographic areas such as the Mountain Region (15%), the Hilly Region (68%) and the flat Terai Region (17%). Terai region produces food grains necessary for the people of entire Nepal. All three regions are parallel to each other from the east to the west. The country has also division of 7 Provinces with 77 districts. Nepal is now a federal republican country so that there are new political border lines within the country.

Flora and Fauna:

There are about 6,500 plant species found in Nepal. Among them, the most famous is perhaps Rhododendron flower. It is also the national flower of Nepal. More than 30 other species of rhododendrons are available in the foothills of the Himalaya and burst into flower during March and April. Many of the alpine species found above the tree line bear flowers in autumn. Marigold flower has a special importance during the festival of Tihar (Deepawali). Likewise, banyan and pipal trees are forming the focal point of villages. The pipal tree has a special religious significance such as the Buddha gained enlightenment under a pipal tree and Hindus worship pipal as symbol of Vishnu and Hanuman. Similarly, Sal- a broad-leaved, semi deciduous hardwood, dominates the low-lying tropical forests of the Terai region. Sal leaves are useful as disposable plates during local festivals while the wood goes for household purposes.

Nepal has an exceptional biodiversity with a unique variety of landscapes and climatic conditions. The diverse environments of the Himalaya and the Middle Hills provide a home for a remarkable array of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. There are best chances of spotting wildlife in the national parks and protected areas. Nepal has implemented some strict laws to protect about 26 mammal species, 9 bird species and 3 reptile species. The most notable fauna among endangered species are The Greater One Horned Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian Elephant, Snow Leopard, Arna, Musk Deer, Red Panda, Black Buck, Swamp Deer, Gaur, Gharial and Dolphin. There are about 864 species of birds available in Nepal, 8% of the total bird species found worldwide. Similarly, a total of 33 globally threatened species, 19 near threatened species and 15 restricted-range species of birds are noted in Nepal.

Places of Interest:-
Kathmandu Valley:

About 218 square miles of land located at 1,300m/4,300ft above sea level with three historic, artistic and cultural towns called Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. These three small old towns together form the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu is a centre for Nepal’s traditions, culture and arts. It is the capital city of Nepal which has many facilities including international airport, international airline offices, tourist hotels, restaurants and travel/trekking agencies. The Kathmandu Valley itself consists of 7 World heritage sites which are Swoyambhunath, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Changunarayan. There are some day hikes available in the Kathmandu Valley. Nagarkot and Dhulikhel are the best view points for those who like to see the mountains while add on to Namo Buddha would be worth visiting from Dhulikhel.

Pokhara Valley:

Pokhara is a significant tourism destination in Nepal that lies between the Great Himalayas and Mahabharata Range. It lies in the central region of Nepal about 200km west of the capital city Kathmandu. It is the only place in the world from where one can enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains having elevation above 8,000 meters while sitting below 1,000 meters from the sea level. Out of the 14 highest mountains in the world above 8,000 meters, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu are visible from Pokhara. It is an enchanting city nestled in a tranquil valley, which is also a gateway to the world famous Annapurna Circuit trekking trail. Pokhara is also a centre of adventures. Trekking, Mountaineering, Hiking, Paragliding, Ultra Light Flights, Mountain biking, Cave and Museum trips are available in Pokhara. A short drive to Sarangkot would be an extra advantage in your Pokhara stay.

Gorkha – the historic town:

Gorkha lies at about 140km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meter from the sea level. Gorkha’s small town is perhaps one of the most important historical towns of Nepal. Gorkha has its hilltop forests to the raging rivers. The British term “Gurkha” evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region. Gorkha has a great historical importance while it offers a panoramic view of snow-fed mountain, the Mansalu Himalayan range. The Gorkha Durbar (Palace), Gorkha Bazaar and Gorakhnath Cave are the major attractions of Gorkha. Gorkha has always been a popular destination because of its great ancient history.

Lumbini – the birth place of Lord Buddha:

Lumbini lies in the Southern Terai region of Nepal about 300km west from the capital city Kathmandu. It is the birth place of Siddhartha Gautam, the Shakya Prince and the ultimate Buddha who was born in 623 BC. The sacred place, marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lumbini is now developing as the holy site for Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The shrines and monasteries built many countries are reflecting the architectural traditions of the respective countries to give a message of universal friendship and brotherhood. About 30km east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha was grown up.

The Prince left the palace in search of enlightment at the age of 29. The main attraction at Lumbini is the Sacred Garden. Ashoka pillar having an inscription identifying the holy site as the birthplace of Lord Buddha stands nearby the Sacred Garden. To one side of Ashoka pillar is the Mayadevi Temple. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a “foot imprint” indicating the exact place of birth of Lord Buddha. The Puskarini pond where Queen Mayadevi (the Buddha’s mother) had taken a bath before giving birth to him lies to the south of the pillar. There are also three museums in Lumbini: The Lumbini Museum, Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI) and the Kapilvastu Museum. Today Lord Buddha is known as the “Light of Asia”.

Janakpur:

Janakpur lies in the eastern Terai of Nepal about 20km north of the Mahendra highway. This small bordering town to India is famous for Janaki Temple which has connection to Hindu epic of Ramayana and rich for historical and cultural heritage. Legend tells that it is the birthplace of Sita and later she got married to Ram. Janaki Temple, the finest pieces of architecture lies in the heart of Janakpur city. Sita is believed to be a daughter of King Janak who found her during ploughing. Janaki Temple and Bibaha Mandap are the important attractions of Janakpur. The other attraction in Janakpur is its Mithila culture. Ram Navami, Chhath, Holi and Deepawali are the major festivals celebrated with great fun in Janakpur.

Sagarmatha National Park:

Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park extends over an area of 1,148sq.km. It lies in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal. The Park has rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas ranging from 2,845m to the top of the world’s highest mountain- Sagarmatha at 8,848m (29,028ft) above the sea level. Other peaks above 6,000m include Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Thamserku, Nuptse, Amadablam and Pumori. The famed Sherpa people live in the region. The renowned Tengboche and other monasteries are the gathering places to celebrate religious festivals such as Dumje and Mani Rimdu. Apart from Tengboche; Thame, Khumjung and Pangboche has some other famous monasteries.

UNESCO has listed Sagarmatha National Park as a World Heritage Site in 1979A.D. for its super natural characteristics. The vegetation found at the lower altitude of the park includes pine and hemlock forests, while fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron, scrub and alpine plant communities are common at the higher altitude while the park is home to the red panda, snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan tahr, marten, Himalayan mouse hare (pika) and over 118 species of bird including the Impeyan pheasant, snow cock, blood pheasant, red billed cough etc. Everest Base Camp and Gokyo trekking are the popular treks in the National Park.

Langtang National Park:

Langtang National Park was founded in 1976A.D. to conserve the unique flora and fauna of the region. The park extends over parts of Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchok districts of Nepal. Sub-tropical vegetation characterized by Sal (Shorea robusta) forest in the southern section of the park is gradually taken over by hill forest (2,000-2,600m) consisting of Chirpine, Rhododendron, and Nepalese alder. The temperate zone (2,600-3,000m) is covered mainly by oak forest fading to old growth forest of silver fir, hemlock, and larch in the lower sub-alpine zone (3,000-3,600m). Langtang National Park’s extensive high meadows provide summer habitat for numerous ungulate species such as musk deer and Himalayan tahr. The park is also well-known for its populations of red panda, Himalayan black bear, snow leopard, wild dog, ghoral, serow and more than 250 species of birds. Treks to Kyanjin Gompa through Langtang Valley and Gosainkunda are available as popular trekking routes.

Chitwan National Park:

Chitwan National Park lies in the south-central part of Nepal. It covers an area of 932sq.km. UNESCO declared Chitwan National Park as a World Heritage Site in 1984A.D. Later in 1996, Nepal government declared an area of 750sq.km. surrounding the park as buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands including cultivated lands. The Chitwan valley consists of tropical and subtropical forests. Sal forests cover over 70 percent of the park. Sal leaves are useful as disposable plates in local festivals and religious occasions. Grasslands cover 20 percent of the park.

There are more than 50 different types of grasses including the elephant grass (Saccharum sp), renowned for its immense height. It can grow up to 8m in height. The park is home to more than 50 mammal species, over 525 birds and 55 amphibians and reptiles. The endangered fauna found in the park are: One-horned rhinoceros, Gaur, Royal Bengal tiger, Wild elephant, Fourhorned antelope, Pangolin, Golden monitor lizard, Python, Bengal florican, Lesser florican, Giant hornbill, Black stork and While stork, etc. Jungle Safari package tours are available in the national park for two, three and four nights.

Rara National Park:

Rara National Park lies in the North-Western high mountains of Nepal at an elevation of 2,980m (9,777ft). The park is Nepal’s smallest conservation area, having an area of only 106sq.km. The oval-shaped lake has an east-west axis of a maximum length of 5km and a width of 3km. It is Nepal’s biggest lake (10.8 sq.km.) with a depth of 167m and the magnificent conifer forest encircle this beautiful lake. Its radiant blue water is home to the snow trout (Schizothorax oreinus sinuatus), the only fish recorded in the lake. The reserve has characteristics of sub-alpine and high temperate vegetation. Common plant species include fir, pine, and birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper and spruce.

The park is home to around 20 different species of mammals. They include Musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Leopard, Jackal, Himalayan tahr, Yellow throated marten, Otter, Wild dog, Common langur, Rhesus macaque and Red panda. The park has recorded 214 species of birds. Some of the important species include coots, snow cock, and different species of pheasants, grebes, mallard, common teal, red-crested pochard and gulls. During winter, many migratory birds join the residential gallinaceous birds. There are popular and classic treks available to the Lake Rara.

Bardia National Park:

Bardia National park is the largest national park in Nepal covering an area of 968sq.km. It was established in the Western part of Nepal to protect representative ecosystems and conserve tiger and its prey species. The park offers a variety of experiences in its vast undisturbed wilderness. About 70% of the forest consists of Sal trees with a mixture of grassland and riverine forests. The park is home to endangered animals such as the Royal Bengal tiger, wild elephant, Greater one-horned rhinoceros, swamp deer and black buck. The other endangered species include gharial-crocodile, marsh mugger and Gangetic dolphin.

Similarly, endangered birds found in the park are Bengal florican, Lesser florican and sarus crane. More than 30 different mammals, over 230 species of birds and several species of snakes, lizards and fishes are available in the park, grassland and river. In addition to the resident species, several migratory birds visit the park in different seasons. An elephant ride provides a different view of the park as one can go off the main trail. Morning and late afternoon is the ideal time to go on a ride. Karnali River is the suitable home for Gangetic dolphin. Babai valley is a majestic place to visit where flagship Rhino, tiger, elephant are available in the wilderness site. The whole things are possible in Bardia and a custom jungle safari package trip is available as unique safari in the world.

Dolpa and Shey-Phoksundo National Park:

Shey-Phoksundo National Park lies in the Dolpa district of trans-Himalayan region of north-west Nepal. It is Nepal’s largest National Park covering an area of 3,555sq.km. It was established in 1984A.D. to preserve a unique trans-Himalayan ecosystem with a diversity of flora and fauna. Shey Phoksundo National Park provides a diversity of spectacular landscapes. Phoksundo Lake is famous for its magnificent turquoise color and the spectacular scenery clearly rank it with the most scenic mountain parks in the world. A typical Tibetan village, Ringmo has scenically nestled in the area. The Park consists of many Gompas (Monasteries) and religious shrines. The most famous, Shey Gompa was established in the 11th Century. Hence the national park has its name after the famous Shey monastery and the Phoksundo Lake.

The northern Himalayan region of the park seems barren while the trans-Himalayan slope lands consists of some rhododendron, caragana shrubs, Salix, Juniper, white Himalayan birch and the occasional silver fir. Likewise, blue pine, spruce, hemlock, cedar, silver fir, rhododendron and bamboo are available in Suligad valley. The park also contains 286 species of ethno botanical importance. Shey-Phoksundo National Park is an important habitat for endangered species like the snow leopard, grey wolf, musk deer, blue sheep, goral, great Tibetan sheep, Himalayan tahr, jackal and Himalayan black bear. This park is home to six reptiles and 29 species of butterflies including the highest flying butterfly in the world. The park provides habitat for over 200 species of birds, including Tibetan partridge, wood snip, white-throated tit and wood accentor. There are popular treks available in the region of upper and lower Dolpa.

Annapurna Conservation Area:

The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) consists some of the world’s highest peaks such as Annapurana I (8,091m/26,546ft) and Machhapuchhre/Fishtail (6,997m/22,957ft) etc., the world’s deepest gorge – the Kali Gandaki gorge and the world’s highest altitude Lake Tilicho located at 4,920m. It is Nepal’s largest conservation area covering 7,629sq.km. of land established in 1992A.D. The nearest town is Pokhara, some 30 km to the south. The ACAP has an entire habitats gradient from sub tropical sal forest to perennial snow harboring 22 different forest types with 1226 plant species including 55 endemics, 30 mammals and 456 birds.

The Annapurna area is popular as an ideal trekking area and refers to as trekkers’ paradise. There are more than 10 ethnic groups (Tibeto-Burmese: Gurung, Thakali, Bhotia, Ethnic Tibetan and Magar and Indo-Aryan: Brahmin, Kshetri, Kami, Damai and Sarki) live in the region. The purpose of establishment of ACAP are to conserve the natural resources of the area for the benefit of the present and future generations, to bring sustainable social and economic development to the local people and to develop eco-tourism that will have a minimum negative environmental impact. The Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit trails are the major trekking routes and attract higher number of trekkers in Nepal. A major attraction of Annapurna Circuit trek is the popular ‘Thorung La’ (5,416m/17,769ft) Pass.

Manaslu Conversation Area:

The government of Nepal declared Manaslu region as “Conservation Area” in December 1998A.D. It covers an area of 1,663sq.km. The region harbors a mosaic of habitats for 33 species of mammals, 110 species of birds, 11 species of butterflies and 3 species of reptiles. There are approx. 2000 species of plants, 11 types of forests and over 50 species on useful plants. The bio-climatic zones vary from sub-tropical to Nival. The altitude rises from a mere 600m. to the summit of Mt. Manaslu (8,163m/26,782ft), the eighth highest peak in the world. There are trekking trips available to Manaslu Base Camp and Larkya la pass (5,106m/16,752ft). The trek is further extendable to Thorung la pass (5,416m/17,769ft) or end at Besisahar in the Annapurna region.

Kanchenjunga Conservation Area:

Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP) has its name after the popular mountain Kanchenjunga (8,586m/28,170ft) – the second highest mountain in Nepal and the third highest in the world. The government designated Kanchenjunga region as a conservation area in March 1998. It covers an area of 2035sq.km. in Taplejung district, in the northeast corner of Nepal. Taplejung district is also famous for high peaks (eleven peaks are higher than 7,000m) and glaciers.

The conservation area with unique mountain ecosystem represents as a tri-national peace park with Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China to the north and Sikkim of India in the east. Sikkim already has Khangchenzonga National Park adjoining KCA whereas the extension of Chomolungma Nature Reserve in TAR. Kanchenjunga region is a reward to the Earth as part of WWF’s Living Planet Campaign 2000, declared by the Government of Nepal in April 1997. Trekking trips to Kanchenjunga Base Camp are available for the people who like adventure and unspoiled region.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve:

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies on the floodplains of the Sapta Koshi River in the south-eastern part of Nepal having an area of 176sq.km. The reserve was established in 1976A.D. to preserve habitat for the only remaining population of Wild buffalo, Arna (Bubalus arnee). Vegetation is mainly the tall grasses. Local villagers get permission to collect thatch grasses once a year which are useful for roof thatching and building house walls. There are also small patches of Khair-sissoo scrub forest and deciduous mixed riverine forest. The last surviving population of wild buffalo is available here. The estimated population of wild buffalo is around 159 individuals is declining. They are different from domestic buffalo by their much bigger horns. The reserve is also home to around 20 other animal species such as Hog deer, Wild boar, Spotted deer, Blue bull and Rock Python.

About 441 species of birds (14 endemic species) have been recorded here, including 20 duck species, 2 Ibis species, white tailed stonechat, Striated marsh warbler, 30 shore birds, 114 water birds, and the endangered swamp partridge and Bengal florican. The Koshi Barrage is an extremely important resting place for many migratory birds, containing 87 winter and Trans-Himalayan migratory species. The Koshi River is home to 80 species of fish. The endangered Gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin are also available in the river. Many of the migratory birds are visible on the Koshi barrage and on the river channel during winter. Migration usually peaks around mid March. Much wildlife visits the area during dusk and dawn. The clear skies allow for beautiful sights of several Himalayan peaks including Mt. Makalu (8,463m/27,767ft), the world’s fifth highest mountain. Trips of elephant back-ride and bird watching tours are available in this reserve.

Festivals of Nepal:-
Losar:

Losar remarks as the New Year of Sherpas of Nepal which falls in February. Sherpas live mostly in the upper Himalayan region of Nepal. Their cultures and traditions are quite similar to the Tibetans so it is also popular as the Tibetan’s New Year. The Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu such as Boudhanath and Swoyambhunath are decorated with colorful prayer flags to mark this great day of the year. People perform their traditional dances and welcome their New Year with feasts and family gatherings. They also buy the new clothes and exchange gifts on this day.

Maha Shivaratri:

Nepal is the land of Lord Shiva, the Lord of the Lords. Hindus have a belief that Lord Shiva is present everywhere. The sacred Hindu texts state that Mt. Kailash in the Himalayas is the abode of Lord Shiva. Shiva, the Destroyer of Evil is among the most praised and worshipped of all the gods by the Hindus. Shiva Ratri is the night of Lord Shiva that falls during February – March. One of the interesting aspects of Shiva Ratri is that people are free to smoke intoxicating substances such as marijuana and bhang as it is the only day when the use of marijuana becomes legal.

Holi:

The popular Hindu festival called Holi falls in February – March. The festival got its name after the mythical demoness Holika.The festival is also refers to as festival of colours. It lasts for a week. However, it is only the last day when people celebrate with colours. ‘Phagu’ is another name for Holi.

Buddha Jayanti:

People of Nepal celebrate Buddha’s birth anniversary every year during May. Prince Siddharth Gautam was born in the southern Terai region of Nepal called Lumbini in about 543 BC. Till he was at the age of 29, the young prince remained well sheltered in the royal palace of his father. He was completely unaware of the tragedies of everyday part of life. One day, while he crossed the boundary of his palace and was shocked to see the sight of an old man, a cripple and a corpse.

After a long search, the Prince finally attained enlightenment while meditating under a pipal tree. Hence, the Prince was well-known as the “Buddha” or “the enlightened one”. On this day, people gather in Swoyambhunath and Boudhanath to worship the Lord Buddha and also visit Buddha’s birth place in Lumbini and chant prayers and burn butter lamps. Buddhism is believed started in Nepal and spread all over the world after the Prince Siddhartha Gautam attained enlightenment as Buddha.

Gai Jatra:

The festival of ‘Gai Jatra’ generally falls in the month of August – September. The festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal and celebration takes place in Kathmandu Valley which is full of humor, satire and comedy. So, the festival has an ironical meaning and satiring on anybody is legal. This is an act purely for fun and might help people to correct their ways if it happened unknowingly. As per the tradition, the family who has lost a relative during the past one year must take part in a procession by sending young boys in cow like appearance lead by a cow.

In terms of historical evidences, when King Pratap Malla lost his son, the queen remained dumbstruck. The King tried to bring his wife out of the grief. Then the cow procession was brought before the grief-stricken queen. When the social injustice and other evils were highlighted and attacked mercilessly, the queen could not stop smiling. The queen laughed, and Pratap Malla, the King ensued as tradition of satires, jokes and mockery on the Gai Jatra days.

Teej:

Teej is a popular fasting festival for Hindu women. It lasts for 3 days. The festival falls in the month of August or early September. Through the course of this rigid fasting, Hindu women pray for marital bliss, well being of their spouse and children as well as purification of their own body and soul. All the married Hindu women dress in red clothes referred to as sign of good luck. They like to wear their jewelries also and celebrate this festival with singing and dancing. The songs they sing during this festival won’t be heard when the festival is over. However, they can sing this in the next year’s Teej festival again.

Dashain:

Dashain is the biggest festival in Nepal that falls in the month of late September and early October each year. The goddess Durga (the goddess of power) is worshipped and thousands of male animals only are sacrificed in every Durga temples on this festival. People paint their houses and clean as a preparation for the festival. This festival has also made a significant role in reunion of distant and nearby relatives. The first nine days of Dashain are called ‘nawa ratri’. The first day of Dashain is ‘Ghatasthapana’. A small rectangular sand block is made and seeded with barley grains. Day’s passes by regular rituals till the seventh day. Likewise, the seventh day is ‘Fulpati’. Then the eighth day is ‘Maha Asthami’. Sacrificing of animals takes place in almost every house throughout the day. The night of the eighth day remarks as ‘Kal Ratri’ (the dark night).

Puja continues and great feasts carry out in the houses of common people. They prepare many varieties of meat and eat together in the families. Similarly, the ninth day is ‘Maha Nawami’. The Taleju temple at Kathmandu Durbar Square remains open for the public once a year on this day only. Celebration in the factories, worshiping of vehicles and instruments from which we make our living takes place. Finally, the tenth day is the ‘Dashami’ and also called ‘Vijaya Dashami’. On this day we take ‘Tika’ and ‘Jamara’ from our elders and receive their blessings. Younger visits the elders in their home and gets ‘Tika’ on forehead, ‘Jamara’ and blessings. Children are happy to wear new cloths and people wish a good luck to each other throughout the festival period. Dashain ends on the full moon day, that also refers to as ‘Kojagrata’ meaning ‘who is awake’.

Tihar:

Tihar is yet another great Hindu festival that happens in the month of late October and early November. The festival regards to the worshiping of Goddess Laxmi (the goddess of wealth). Hindus celebrate the festival by decorating their houses with lit oil lamps. The nights in the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond, thus it is also popular as Deepawali (festival of lights). The festival lasts for five days. The festival has a meaning for life and prosperity. The first day of Tihar refers to as ‘Kag Tihar’, dedicated to crows. Crow is considered as the messenger of death and honoured on the first day of the festival. The second day is ‘Kukur Tihar’, dog’s festival. We pray to the dogs to look after our houses as they guard the main gate. On this day the dogs seem running around with garlands on their neck.

Similarly, the third day is called ‘Laxmi Puja’. Every houses worship goddess Laxmi in the evening. They clean and decorate their houses believing that she likes clean and tidy places. A small portion of the house outside the main gate is painted in red with red mud and an oil lamp is lit on it. A pathway is made from here to the ‘Puja room’ where a safe and valuables are kept. The fourth day is the ox’s day. The ox is worshiped because it helps us in farming to plough and providing the cow dung as fertilizer. This great Hindu festival is more eco-friendly that inspires to worship the living creatures in the world. The last day of the festival refers to as ‘Bhai Tika’; sisters put seven colour ‘Tika’ on the forehead of their brothers and wish their long life from ‘Yamaraj’ (the god of the underworld).

Mani Rimdu:

The celebration of popular Sherpa festival Mani Rimdu takes place every year at Tengboche Monastery in Khumbu region of Nepal. The famous Mt. Everest (8,848m) has crowned the monastery. Tengboche gompa or monastery is home to around 36 monks and 25 students. The Mani Rimdu festival is a three-day program starting right after October’s full moon. The monks of Tengboche monastery perform a dance drama during the festival.