- Nepal Information and History
- Geography of Nepal
- Climate in Nepal
- People of Nepal
- Religions of Nepal
- Festivals in Nepal
Nepal General Information and the History:
Nepal is a landlocked country enclosed in between two giants country India in East, West and South direction whereas Tibet Autonomous region in the Northern part. It is the country having an ancient civilization which can be outlined thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Ancient legends states that the name Nepal was derived from the shepherd who lived in the valley of Kathmanu a long time ago and looked after the sheep. Nepal can be divided into two word Ne+Pal Ne- Literally means the name of the person who looked after the sheep and the pal=means the wool and woolen items created from the sheep wool.
However, there are not scientifically reliable documents available to support abovementioned legend. Only, there is a stone inscription writing was found in the premises of Changu Narayan Temple dated back to 5th Century AD. Following are the dynasties who ruled over the Nepal.
- Gopala Dyanasty: The ancient civilization of Kathmandu Valley. No trustworthy documents available.
- Mahispala Dyansty: The second ancient civilization of Kathmandu Valley.
- Kirantas Dyansty: Traces of this dynasty are found in some world heritage sites, but not so reliable.
- Licchavi Dynasty: 6th to 11th century AD. Greatly contributed in economy and built several temples images and places. Some are still existed and some were lost.
- Malla Dyansty: Malla Kings ruled around ending of 12th century AD. Innumerable temples, palaces, idols and carving that are preserved in the valley, speak of the excellence in art and architecture during that period. Ruled in Nepal for 500 years and it is also known as Golden Age of Nepal history.
- Shah Dynasty: 18th century King Prithivi Naryan Shah unified the small kingdoms and laid a foundation of Modern Nepal.
- Ranas Autocracy System: Prime ministers Rana’s ruled over the Nepal for 104 years starting from 1846 AD and it is known as Dark Age in Nepalese History. The treaty of Sugauli in 18th century with East India Company lost the most important areas of Nepal.
- 1951 AD: Fall of Rana Regime’s and the first revolution saw the dawn of democracy. Tourism boosted in Nepal.
- 1990: Second revolution against Panchayat Autocratic system. This system is replaced by Multi-party democratic system since April 1990.
- 1997-2007: Maoists Civil war against the government started and remained for ten years. Many people lost their lives and in 2007 Maoists joined in the mainstream government after the peacetalk.
- A people movement of 2005/06 AD had removed the monarchy system of the Shah Dynasty then it has been declared as Federal Democratic Republic by the First Constitutional Assembly on 28th May 2008.
Nepal is a small landlocked country lies between 800 4′ and 800 12′ east longitude and 260 22′ and 300 4′ north latitude. The total estimated area of Nepal is 147,181 sq. km and it is approximately 0.03% of total land area of the earth. The country is almost like rectangular with average 885 km east-west length and average width of 193 km north-south. The country is divided into three geographical regions from east to west.
Three Regions of Nepal
- The Himalayan Region
- The Mountain Region
- The Terai Region
The Himalayan Region: This region covers almost 30% of Nepal total area and started from the altitude of 2900 m to 8050 meters above the sea level. The attractions of the areas are high mountains including Mount Everest and other famous peaks and habited by few people. Most of the areas have low to high mountain pass, varieties of flora and faunas and ethnic groups. The Himalayan Region is divided into
- Greater Himalaya/ Trans Himalaya/ High Mountain Valley
Nepal Highest Mountains
|Mount Everest 1st highest||8,850 m|
|Kanchenjunga 3rd||8,586 m|
|Lhotse 4th||8,516 m|
|Makalu 5th||8,462 m|
|Cho Oyu 6th||8,201 m|
|Dhaulagiri 7th||8,167 m|
|Manaslu 8th||8,156 m|
|Annapurna 10th||8,091 m|
The Hilly Region: Hilly region of the Nepal covers approximately 50% of Nepal total area and the altitude ranges from 600 meters to 3,000 meters above the sea-level. There are several other hilly ranges known as Mahabharat and Churia ranges as well others longitudinal fertile valleys of the principal rivers fall under this region. Kathmandu, Pokhara, Surkhet, Dang, Deepyal valleys are also situated in this region. Similarly as the Himalayan regions Hilly Regions are divided into 3 regions. The third region is Midland range known as Tar and Beshi in Nepali Language.
The Plain (Terai) Region: This region occupies approximately 20% of total land which includes the most fertile land, Main National Parks, habitat of one horned rhino and Bengal Tiger, and dense forest areas of the country. It has the width of near about 32 kilometers and its altitude does not exceed 305 meters above the sea level. The Terai regions are connected with the border of India.
Climate in Nepal
Nepal has a diversified climate. It has a three types of climatic zone according to three different regions.Mountains have generally cold climate with snow falls. Hilly area and mountains area best described as Sub-Tropical Monsoon general predictable and pleasant. The monsoon is approximately from the end of June to the middle of September. Nepal received more than 80 percent of rainfall from monsoon and remaining year the rainfall is received from west direction of Nepal however, there is low rainfall at this time. Spring and autumn are the best seasons for the trekking, peak climbing, expedition and others. Nepal has generally four seaon:
- Winter Season (December to February)
- Autumn Season (September to November)
- Summer Season (June to August)
- Spring Season (March to May)
Nepal has diverse climate because of the topography which ranges from sea-level 90m to 8,850m the Highest Peak of the World Mt. Everest. The southern belts of Nepal Terai remain hot most of the year and temperature decreases gradually towards North as the altitude increases. The temperature charts of the Nepal is presented below which is prepared according to the different altitude.
According to the census of 2011 Nepal’s population is about 30 million and there are more than 103 languages spoken and this is the home of 103 ethnic groups. Nepali is common and official language. These ethnic groups are divided into Indo-Aryans and Indo-Nepalese as well as Tibeto Mongolians and Tibeto Nepalese. There is also divisional caste system in Nepal which distinguished into four caste and 36 subdivisions. The former ethnic group came from during 10-12th century in Nepal from the Ganges Plain of India and later group came to the Nepal from Tibetan side. In addition, there are many other ethnic groups stayed in different parts of the Nepal since a long time. Some of them are,
Brahmans are considered as the members of the highest social caste. The Brahmans main work is to work as a priest in the main Hindu temples and they were well educated than other ethnic group so they occupied the important position in government post of Nepal.
Chhetris and Thakuris come in the second position after Brahmans in the caste system of Nepal. They came from the western part of the Karnali zone of Nepal known as Sinja valley or Khas valley. Most of the Chettris are warriors. Rulers, and leaders. Many of them follows both Hinduism and Buddhism and they speak Nepali language.
The people who stayed in the eastern part of the Nepal and those came from eastern part of the Tibet are called to be Sherpas. Sherpa denotes two words Shar- East part and Pa- People migrated to Nepal from the Kham region of eastern Tibet over a thousand years ago. They practices Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism and most of the Shearps set the world records in Nepalese mountains and they stabilized themselves in a hospitality industry and in the mountaineering sectors as a expedition leader. They are also well settled in Khumbu river and Arun valley.
RAI: Rais are from North-Eastern Nepal from the places liker Dhankuta, Terhathum. Taplejung, Bhojpur, Khotang, and Arun and Dudh valleys. Similarly like Limbus they are inhabitants of the extreme east of Nepal. Rai have their own dieties and beliefs mainly from the region of Taplejung, Khotang and Arun Valley. They have their own deities and beliefts however, other religions has a great influence on them such as Tibetan Lamanism, Buddhisim, Animism and Shivaism. Professionally, Rai’s hold strong position on the Gorkha regimen and in Nepalese Army.
GURUNG Gurungs are also called Tamu’s and they are the people from from the southern and western part of the Nepal Himalayas around the southern slope of the Annapurna in the Gandaki zone. Gurungs are especially found in the Lamjung, Tanahun, Gorkha, Parbat, Syangja, Baglung, Okhaldhunga, and also in Kathmandu valley. They speak their own language and follow animism as their religion, but they are also inspired from the Hindus and Buddhist festivals as they live in a community of Brahmin, Chhetris and other ethnic group. Their main profession is sheep farming, and agricutlrue but they stabilized themselves well in the Brithish army and Indian Gurkha regiments.
Magar are the people who lived in eastern to western centrall hill in more than 30 districts of Nepal. Besides these they are also settled in eastern and western Terai of Nepal. Much of their culture practice have been influenced by Brahmin and Chettris community and they also follow Busshism as their main religion. There are Ale, Thapa, Rana, and Pun Magars.Magars are traditionally engaged in agriculture, craftsmanship, hunting and fishing but the scenario has changed completely now. They are also well established in the profession like medicine, education, civil service and politics. Some of the Magars are also engaged in Brithish army and Gurkha regiments. Magar villages are typical round and oval houses and they use hays roof in their house.
THARU The indigenous people of Terai who lived in the Terai and also spread across Nepal’s plain area of are Tharus. They are very rich in their language, cultural, and tradition and they follow animism. Most of the Tharus have Mongoloid features and their body system are immune to Malaria. They have their own languages that has been influenced by other languages such as Maithali, Bhojpuri, and Awadhi. They celebrated the festival like Maghi, Holi, New Year and in cities they also celbearte Hindu Festival of Dashain and Tihar. The primitive Tharus community worshipped the god and goddess of the forest and they respect the nature and each village have its own local god and goddess.
Newar are the original, native, and most ancient inhabitants and indigenous ethnic group of Kathmandu Valley. They are widely spread in Kathmandu valley along with Banepa, Dhulikhel, Bhojpur, Bandipur, Tanse, Pokhara and other parts of Nepal. The people follow Buddhism and Hinduism, they have a complicated culture with different festivities which can be seen all the year round. Mostly based in traditional business, this culture has enormous collection of ancient music and artisans as its products. They celeberated the festival like Yomari Puneh, Sithinakaha, Mha Puja, Macchendranath chariot festival, Indra Jatra and New year. They are the creator of Pagoda style architecture and they are wonderful artists who skillfully built temples and palaces, engraved stone and metal images, carved wooden columns and pillars, and the history laden shrines and chaityas of these three historical cities of Kathamandu, Lalitpur, and Bhakatpur are the contribution of Newari Community living in these city. Newar speak their own language “Newari” also known as Nepal Bhasa.
Nepalese practices unique religious structure in the world following universal brotherhood and respect for all the religions. Since ancient times, Hindu and Buddhist respect each other and visit same pilgrimages and they also worshiped similar festival at the same time. Respect for each other and tolerance serves as fine examples in Nepalese religion. Nepal have not witnessed big religious riots yet. Most of the people follow Hinduism followed by Buddhism and there are other many religions followed by different ethnic groups. Most of the people have faith on animisim. The number of people following Christians and Islam are also in increasing trend.
|Christianity, Tantrism & others||2.17%|
Hinduism is the major religion of Nepal. Approximately 82 percent of the Nepalese people are Hindus and then Buddhism comes in second position. The people following Islam and Christianity are also in increasing trend.The national calendar of Nepal follows Bikram Sambat (B.S.) calendar which is a solar Hindu calendar. There are many god and goddess inside Hinduism. Three principal dieties are Brahma-who created the universe, Vishnu- who look after the universe, Shiba- the destroyer of evils such as demons. Among these, the people worshiping Shiva are called Shaibya, the people worshipping Bishnu are called Baishnab, and the people worshiping Lord Durga as a female power are called Shaktyas. These three gods have their own characteristics and their wives are taken as an important goddess in Hinduism. The customary practices of the people following these religions are different in each regions.
Buddhism in Nepal dates from the birth of Siddhartha Gautama himself around sixth century BC. Nepal has been the meeting point for Indian and Tibetan Buddhist teachers before a long period of time. The country became a origin of Buddhist Sanskrit literature and famous for its production of fine Buddhist art. The most famous pilgrimage site of Nepal is Lumbini and Namo Buddha, and Bouddhanath stupas. Beside that there are many Buddhist monasteries in different part of Nepal. Buddhists practices and present their skills in thangkas and pawwas paintings which are placed inside Monastery or Buddhist Stupas and export fine metal statues in different part of the world. Buddhism is also taken as a philosophy for living a simple life.
Festivals of Nepal
Nepalese people celebrated different types of festival and festivities around the year which is according to Solar Calendar of Bikram Sambat. The list of the festivals is presented below.
- Nava Barsa or Nepali New Year: The new year starts in Nepal according to Solar Calendar of Bikram Sambat on the month of April. First month of New Year is Baishakha which is celebrated by greetings best wishes to each other. In the town of Bhaktapur it is celeabrated in a different way and it remains almost for a week. It is worth full to watch Bisket Jatra of Bhaktapur.
- Mata Tirtha Puja: Mother’s Day: Mother is always respected in Nepalese culture and society. Mata means mother. This festival begins on the last of the dark fortnight day of April or early May. On this occasion, mother is respected and people looks on mother’s face. It is a special day to give love, respect, and affection to the mother by all of her son and daughter and receive mother blessings.
- Buddha Purnima Full Moon Day: The Anniversary of Lord Buddha which generally falls on the month of Baishakh or April or May during full moon day. This is the day, when the Lord Buddha was born, enlightened, and entered peacefully in Nirvana. This is the greatest for most of the Hindus and Buddhists. People visits nearby Stupa and Monastery’s and thousands of local and foreigners visit the birth place of Buddha, Lumbini to celebrate this special day. Bouddhanath Stupa and Swyambhunath Stupa are decorated with a butter lamp for whole night and people chanted the mantra remembering Lord Buddha and his teachings.
- Rato Machhendranath Charoit Festival Chariot Festival of the visitor God:
it is one of the longest chariot festival in the Kathmandu valley starts in the last week of May or early June. It is celebrated to worships to Machhendranath, the rain god who is merciful or the god of harvests. The chariot size about 48ft tall is prepared at Pulchowk and pulled through the city of Patan taking several days and it is finally taken to Jawalakhel. The festival concludes when the sacred waistcoat is displayed for the entire populace to behold. These festivals have sociocultural and religious importance.
- Sithi Nakaha: This festival is celebrated among the Newar Community of Kathamandu valley. It is also a birthday of the warrior god Kumar, second son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He is an important god who is believed to save the god and goddess by killing demons. During this festival, the Newar Community of Kathmandu valley clean their source of water such as well once in a year.
- Dumji: This festival is celebrated around June-July month, the month of monsoon season in a Sherpa Community. The Sherpa people takes part in this festival with a great eagerness. This festival is celebrated to honor the birth anniversary Guru Padmasambhava (Ringboche). The festival was believed to start before some 370 years back from Khumbu region. This is a festival of dance which is performed by monks and Lamas with the mixed feelings of humor and seriousness. It binds Sherpa community in one necklace and develops love and understanding between the families.
- Gunla: Gunla is a festival of religious music, difficult fasting, prayers, and singing. This festival is popular among the Buddhist communities living inside the Kathmandu valley. The festival starts fifteen days before and fifteen days after full moon of late August or early September. People visit Swyambhunath Stupak early in the morning taking religious music and take a turn around the Stupa. It is completed in a month and it is becoming more popular among youngsters too because it preserve ancient religious music of Newar those resides in Kathmandu Valley.
- Naga Panchami: The day of snake god is celebrated during the month of July/August. This festival is celebrated to offer worship and to show respect to the god because it is believed that the snake protects humans from different animals such as rat and cure diseases and also guard treasures. Pictures of snake god are made and posted in front of the house.
- Janaipurnima and Gai Jatra: Janai Purnima is celebrated at the month of August on full moon day. On this day, Brahmin and Chhetris people change their sacred thread which they kept beneath the neck in the body and also other people wear sacred thread of red and yellow color which was prepared after enchanting some sacred mantras by Brahmins, a thread of protection. People gathered in the bank of river or a temple, take a bath or purified themselves and wear this thread from the hand of Brahmins. The second day of Janai Purnima there is a festival of humor and satire or Gai Jatra which nowadays utilized by people for entertainment and laughing. The Gai Jatra takes place after the full moon day of August – September. It is believed that Pratap Malla King of Malla Dynasty started the conversion of celebrating the festival in the 18th Century to console his bereaved queen by showing her that every people have to lost their lives and nothing is permanent. The comedian artists organized stage programs against the political, leadership, government systems and mock to government and public sector.
- Lord Krishna Birthday and Gokarna Aunsi (Father’s Day): This festival is celebrated on the month of August or early September. Lord Krishna is regarded as reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. The festival is most popular among Hinuds. The main temple of Krishna is well decorated and people stayed whole night without sleeping chanting prayers and religious songs throughout the temples in the country.
- The second festival is the day of honoring father which is on the month of September. Same like mother’s day, father’s day is celebrated to give honor, love, and respect to the father and the people who do not have father they perform some purification rites according to the Hindu practice. The father and mother’s day festival shows the strength of mutual family bond in the Nepalese society and share happiness in the family.
- Teej (Women’s Day): Teej is celebrated in the late August or early September. This day is celebrated for the long life of husband by the married women in case of unmarried women it is celebrated to find the suitable and loving husband by the bless of Lord Shiva. Women kept fasting and take bath in the holy river or ponds as well as women decorated themselves with red sari and ornaments. They also sing and dance in a group.
- 12: Shrawan: The Month of Shiva: Sharwan Month, the fourth month according to Bikram Sambat calendar and it falls on 15 days of July and 15 days of August which is also the mid monsoon season in Nepal. This month is dedicated to Lord Shiba and the month of green color for the ladies. Every Monday on this month Lord Shiva is worshipped by thousands of worshippers and people also participate in a temple tour to offer homage with holy water from pond or a sacred river. The month having five Monday is considered as an auspicious month and people believed that visiting and worshipping Lord Shiva fulfilled their entire wish and the unmarried girl get husband of her dreams and she will get happy family.
- Indra and Kumari Jatra the chariot procession of living goddess Kumari:
Godess Kumari is regarded as living goddess in the Kathmandu valley. Indra Jatra is celebrated on the month of September to for giving thanks to rain god Indra . The huge pole is erected in front of Kathamndu’s Royal Palace and it remains until 8th days to worship Lord Indra. The three chariots of Living goddess Kumari, Ganesh, and Bhairab are pulled around the city for seven days. President of Nepal also visit the house of living goddess Kumari to take blessing from her during this festival.
- Dashain/Navaratri or Durga Puja: Dashain is also called Vijaya Dashain is celebrated during the bright lunar fortnight. It is the greatest festival of Nepal. People of all casts celebrate it with equal enthusiasm at the end of September and beginning of October. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the victory of goddess Durga over hideous demons. Thus, this festival stands as symbol of the victory of good over evil. During the festival nine forms of Goddess Durga worshipped in a different names, animal sacrifice are made, blessing from the elderly family gathering and public parades, ancient processions and traditional pageant are held. The government and private offices are closed for a week to celebrate this festival and people take a tika (mixture of red saffron and rice with curd) and visit their relatives for their wonderful blessings on the 10th
- Tihar/Deepawali or The Festival of Lights: This is the second biggest festival of Nepal which is renowned as festival of light. All the house and street corners are illuminated with butter lamps or colorful electric bulbs. There are mainly five important day in which animals like crow, cow, dog and oxen are worshipped and the last day the day is called the sister and brother day by putting garland of Marigold over the shoulder of brother’s by sister and brother gives gift to the sister.
- Chhat Parba: One of the major festivals in Terai is Chhath Parva which is dedicated to the Sun-god and is observed on the fourth day of the lunar calendar during the month of (October – November). The festival celebrated after Deepawalihas great improtance, especially for the married women who observe two-day fast and offer prayers while keeping almost three-quarters of their body immersed in water. The rising and the setting sun is worshiped during the festival. The festival lasts for four days and it is celebrated all over the Terai and Hilly Region.
- Bala Chaturdashi: This festival observed on the fourteenth day of the dark lunar fortnight in a November or early December. It is celebrated on the belief that brings peace to the departed members of the family. Thousands of families gathered around the temple of Pashupatinath and stay overnight in the temple chanting and dancing and on the early morning they disseminate different varities of seeds on the premises of the temple and surrounding area. They believe that when they sow the seed around the area the ancestors would acquire the fruit.
- Vivah Panchami: This festival is marked on the month of December. It is celebrated in the memory of Sita and Rama, incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Thousands of devotees from India and Nepal gathered in Janakpur in the eastern Terai to celebrate this festival. There is a belief that this is an auspicious ceremony to tie a knot for lifetime so many couples get married in this great Hindu Festival.
- Mani Rimdu: it is very important festival of Sherpas that falls under full moon day of November – December. It is celebrated in the memory of great Guru Padmasambhava who established Buddhism in Tibet and there were many legends associated with it. The Sherpas of Khumbu and Tibetans gathers and celebrate it together with their own community. The major attraction of the festival is mask dance performed by the monks and also regarded as sacred dance and that is only performed in the Mani Rimdu Festival. The dance gives information and importance of Buddhist teaching on many levels from the simplest to the most profound and it symbolize the victory of good over evil.
- Loshar: Loshar is observed on the first day of the bright lunar fortnight. It is celebrated for a week by Sherpas, Gurungs, Tamangs, and Tibetans communities of Nepal. It is the festival of meeting, drink, greetings best wishes, and ancient forms of dance. It is also celebrated among families, in monasteries, and with public where traditional dance ceremonies are organized.
- Maghe Sankranti: It is celebrated in Nepal to mark the entry of the sun into different zodiac. It is a great and sacred moment and people regarded this as a heavenly month and they take bath in the joint of three river or river confluences. From this day onwards, the day are become more longer and night become shorter.
- Sri Panchami or Basanta Panchami: This festival is marked during the month of February and from this day the start of spring season. It is also festival to honor the goddess Saraswoti, the goddess of Knowledge and education. The small children are taken to nearby temple and they are encouraged to write the first letter in the wall of the temple also, the children starts their first school from the same day.
- Maghe Purnima: The full moon day of Magh or February is very special for the devotees who stayed in hard fasting in the month of February and it concludes worshipping Phallus of Lord Shiba. Many Hindu men and women participated in one month long fasting.
- Maha Shivaratri festival: This festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva the guardian lord of the animals generally falls on the early March. The festival attracts millions of devotees in important temple and shrine of Lord Shiva from India. Many Sadhus also visited the Pashupatinath temple the surrounding area filled up by many pilgrims. The devotees smoke marijuana and they remained vigil all the night chanting different name of Shiva. This has been taken as a ritual practice nowadays.
- The festival of Color (Holi): It is celebrated in the month of March/April when people decorated themselves from colorful powder and throw water and color to each other. The festival symbolizes the victory of devout Parhlad over demon Holika who had tried to kill Prahlad by burning him in the fire. He was saved by the power of Lord Vishnu and become the great devout of him.
- The Horse procession Festival: (Ghode Jatra) This festival is celebrated at the month of March April and people watch horse procession and horse race organized by Nepal Army in Kathmandu. Religiously, it has own importance one of them is it is the meeting month of deities residing in the Kathmandu Valley.
- Chaite Dashain: Chaite Dashain is observed on March-April too. This is a small Dashain to worship Godess Durga she symbolizes the female divine power. During this festival, people visited the important Durga temples around the Nepal and give homage to Goddess Durga.
- Ram Nawami: Ram Nawami is observed during April to worship Lord Rama, who killed the demon like Rawana and he is incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Devotees visit the temples of Rama in different part of Nepal to worship Lord Rama.
In this way, there are many others festivals celebrated by Nepalese people during different occasions by different ethnic groups. These festival have its great importance in Nepalese society.