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Maghe Sankranti
Maghe Sankranti is the beginning of the holy month of Magh, usually mid-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 confluence of sacred rivers and streams. In addition to holy bathing and worship of shrines, certain auspicious foods like till laddoos (seasame seeds ball cakes), chaku (molasys), ghee (clarified butter), sweet potatoes, khichari (mixture of rice and lentils) and green leaf spinach are taken on this day.

Several indigenous communities in hilly and mountain areas celerbate Lhosar as the New Year festival. Festive activities like singing, dancing and feasting are observed across the country. Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days. On the first day of Losar, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (a Tibetan cousin of beer). The second day of Losar is known as King's Losar (gyalpo losar). Losar is traditionally preceded by the five day practice of Vajrakilaya. Although it often falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year (sometimes with one day or occasionally with one lunar month difference), it is generally not thought to be culturally directly connected to that holiday. It is culturally more related to Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia than to the Chinese New Year festivity. Losar is also celebrated in Bhutan, although different regions in the country have their own respective new years. The Sonam Losar or Lhochaar, is celebrated by the Sherpas it mostly falls in the month of February. Tamangs, Sherpas and Gurungs celebrate Lhosar on different dates.

Maha Shivaratri
This day is the celebration dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Hindus all over the world know Shiva through different names and forms. The country has thousands of idols and monuments, which glorify his name, the most common one being the Shiva Linga or the phallus of Shiva that represents him. For it is the Shiva linga that Hindus regard as the symbol of creation, the beginning of everything. Hindus all over the world celebrate this day with great enthusiasm. Shiva Ratri literally means 'the night consecrated to Shiva'. This auspicious festival falls in the month of Falgun (February – March). The temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, which is considered as one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus, glorifying Lord Shiva, receives more than 100,000 worshippers during the festival of Shiva Ratri. Pilgrims come from far and wide to pay their respects and homage to Shiva. One of the interesting aspects of Shiva Ratri is that on this day devotees and non-devotees alike freely indulge in smoking intoxicating substances such as marijuana and bhang. Shiva Ratri falls in the month of March.

Fagu Purnima (Holi)

The ancient Hindu festival of Fagu Poornima falls on the full moon day in the month of Falgun according to lunar calendar (late February or early March). Allegedly named after the mythical demoness Holika, it is a day when the feast of colours is celebrated. The festival is of a week. However, it's only the last day that is observed by all with colours. People can be seen wandering through the streets either on foot or on some vehicle, with a variety of colours smeared over them. Families and friends get together and celebrate the occasion with a lot of merry making. This spring time celebration is also an outburst of youthful exuberance in which throwing colours and water balloons (lolas) on passers-by is acceptable. People in Tarai celebrate the festival a day later with more pomp and ceremony.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 December 2009 03:48 )
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