Festivals in Nepal begin with religion, ending as social event. There are more than 50 major festivals in a year celebrated by Nepalese. Although most of these festivals are religious some have historical significance, while others are seasonal and legendary celebrations.
The dates of most festivals are fixed by famous astrologers after consulting the lunar calendar. The biggest and most popular festivals are: Dashain, a celebration of Goddess Durga victory over evil Mahisashur; and Tihar, a celebration of lights dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.
It is not hard to catch colorful processions in different streets of the Valley almost every other day of the week. Cultural acts of dances and songs are integral parts of some celebrations while some celebrations are just quiet family gatherings. Grand celebrations like Ghode Jatra and Gai Jatra entertain participants and spectators every year.
Swasthani (Jan - Feb)
The Swasthani Festival takes place between January and February. The Goddess Swasthani's three eyes burn like the sun. She is the ultimate giver of gifts although if insulted, she can make life miserable.
By worshipping Swasthani, Parbati attained Lord Shiva as her husband. In the worship rites of Swasthani (as set out by Parbati) the Swasthani Scripture is read every evening for one month. Worshipping Swasthani is believed to remove curses, unite parted relatives and could result in limitless gifts.
Maghe Sankranti (Jan - Feb)
Maghe Sankranti is the beginning of the holy month of Magh, usually the mid of January. It brings an end to the ill-omened month of Poush (mid-December) when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. Even if it is considered the coldest day of the year, it marks the coming of warmer weather and better days of health and fortune.
This day is said to be the most significant day for holy bathing despite the weather. This ritual usually takes place at the union of sacred rivers and streams. Sankhamole, on the banks of the holy BagmatiRiver, below P