The people of Ghalel celebrate a wide variety of festivals (also celebrated throughout Nepal). Have a look below for an extensive list of the biggest, most popular, colourful and fun festivals in Nepal – each one is worth a visit!
In honour of Lord Vishnu and the holy month of Magh
For the Hindu God Shiva
The festival of colours
To praise the victory of Ramayana over Rawan
In honour of Goddess Saraswati
In honour of Buddha
For Hindus and Buddhists
In honour of Goddess Durga
The festival of women
The festival of lights (in honour of Goddess Laxmi)
One of the biggest festivals in Ghalel
Maghe Sakranti festival is celebrated in the middle of January, known as the month of Magh. As the sun enters the southern hemisphere, days start becoming longer and warmer. People take a bath early in the morning and visit temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu to offer flowers, incense and food and to read from the Bhagawat Gita.
Maha Shivaratri is in honour of Shiva, the most popular god of the Hindus. The festival takes place in February and devotees from various parts of Nepal and India visit the Lord Pashupatinath and pray to the image of Shiva, located inside the temple. On occasion, saints and sages who emulate Shiva give lectures on the worshiped god to the disciples. A big fire is also lit and sugar cane stalks are burnt and hit on the ground. On impact, the canes make loud noises – the inside of the stalk is said to have medicinal purposes.
Fagu Purnima (The Colour Festival)
This is a two-day festival, which generally falls in March and known as both Fagu and Holi. The festival has recently received a lot of attention in Europe and is best known as the colour festival. It is a very playful time, celebrated all over the country (including Ghalel). On the first day, a chir pole is decorated with colourful flags and put up at the Kathmandu Durbar Square to alert the people of the city to hide their good clothes as coloured powder and water balloons are thrown throughout the week. In other words, don’t wear your finest!
Chaitra Dashain takes place in March or April every year and is a two-day festival organised to praise the victory of the epic hero Ramayana over Rawan, the evil king of Lanka from Sri Lanka. It is believed that the goddess Durga helped Ramayana achieve victory therefore the goddess, known as the source of power, is also worshipped on the occasion. In Ghalel, this festival is celebrated with family and the villagers often visit the nearby village of Lwang to rejoice with their neighbours.
During the Saraswati Pooja, the goddess of learning (Saraswati) is worshipped at her temples around Nepal. In Kathmandu, people throng the Nil Barahi shrine near Lazimpat to offer flowers, food and other gifts to goddess Saraswati.
On the day of the full moon in May, known as Baisakh, people celebrate the birth of Buddha. Enlightment and salvation are applauded both in and outside the Kathmandu Valley. Preparations for the festival are made at Swayambhunath and Bouddhanath stupas and monks and devotees perform various activities including dancing. In Ghalel, we receive a visit from priest Kama Lama who was born in Ghalel and joins us to preach and pray.
The festival is named after a sacred red or yellow thread worn by Buddhists and Hindus, called janai. in August, the Brahmins visit Ghalel and chant the Gayatri mantra while changing their janai threads, which are believed to protect the wearer from evil when tied around the wrist.
Dashain/Durga Pooja (The Largest Festival)
Dashain, also known as Durga Pooja, is the greatest festival in Nepal. It is held in the last week of September and the first week of October and especially observed by Hindus.
Teej is all about the celebration of women. The women of Ghalel including those who have left the village, visit the shrines of Lord Shiva in the neighbouring village Kalimati. They perform dances, sing folk songs and recall stories of Parvati’s devotion to her husband Shiva. Married women visit their parents’ homes and it is also believed that married women who fast on this day will find their husbands faithful while single women who do the same will have good luck in finding good husbands.
This is the second largest festival in Nepal (with Dashain coming in at number one) and is known as the festival of lights. Villagers party for five days in November and pray to goddess Laxmi, considered the main goddess of wealth and good fortune. During the fifth and last day of the festival, gifts are exchanged; sisters offer their brothers tika, garlands, sweets and other food items. This ritual is believed to keep the brothers safe from death and other evils. During the festival dogs, cows, oxen as well as properties are blessed and all villagers burn candles and paint tika shapes in beautiful shapes outside their houses to honour the goddess.
Lhosar is a yearly festival where Gurung ladies dress up in traditional clothing and villagers sing, dance, eat and drink – it’s a feast for the senses! Volleyball matches are played between local teams, speeches are made and awards presented. This event is the highlight of the festival season and the party carries on for four days. This is also a highly spiritual event led by local Buddhist monks who offer prayers for good health and prosperity at the monasteries.
Feel like one of the people by dressing up in your own traditional festival costume for only 300 NPR (available for ladies only). If you would like to bring a souvenir home with you, the villagers can also have an outfit handmade for you.