August Festivals

Janai Purnima

Date :5th  August, 2009
Venue: Hindu Temples across Nepal, Gosainkunda

Janai Purnima falls on the full moon day of the month of Shravan. This day is considered sacred by the Hindus . Brahmins  change their janai (sacred thread) on this day. During this festival, Hindus receive a yellow and orange  band called ‘rakshya bandhan‘ from a Hindu priest. Wearing this thread around the wrist is said to protect one from evil and bring good luck.  In the ‘Terai” plains,this day  celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters and is called  “Raksha bandhan” . Sisters tie ‘Rakhi’, a decorative thread, on their brothers’ wrist and pray for their well- being. The brothers in turn give special gifts to their sisters.

[Photos: Usha Rai]

A special fair is held in Gosainkunda Lake, Rasuwa district on this day. Pilgrims flock to the shrine of  Shiva and take a purification dip in the lake’s holy water. Jhankris or shamans , attired in their traditional attire flock to Goasinkunda to worship.They also congregate at Kumbeshwor (located in Patan Durbar Square), Nagarkot and at sacred lakes allover Nepal to hold special prayers. They visit the  temple of Kalinchowk Bhagwati (the goddess of Kalinchowk) in Dolkha district and offer prayers to the goddess , asking her blessings to grant them healing powers. The Jhankris are the traditional healers and many households in rural Nepal still seek their help in times of illness or any other misfortune.

Janai Purnima at Gosainkunda

Gai Jatra

Date : 6th August, 2009

Venue: Basantapur , Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur

Legend has it, that when King Pratap Malla lost his son, the Queen was so  numbed with  grief  that she refused to speak or talk with anyone . The king was  saddened to see the condition of his  queen. In order  to console the Queen, it was decided that one person from every household where a death had occurred in the year should come before the queen. After seeing so many others who had undergone the  sorrow and pain of losing a loved one, the queen realised that she was not the only one.

[Photo: Om Prakash Yadav]

Another tale associated with Gai Jatra is that, as  the queen would not come out of her misery ,  it was announced by King Pratap Malla that he would reward anyone who could make the queen laugh. Hearing this, a lot of people came dressed in ridiculous get ups, trying their hand at buffonery ,  they made satirical comments about social issues, poking fun at several  high ranking personalities. The Queen found this so funny that she could not help laughing.Thus the tradition of making satirical comments on high ranking people on ‘Gai Jatra’ came into existence.

During the festival , relatives of the deceased  go round the city led by a cow or dressed as cows or some other characters to commemorate those who died during the past year. According to Hindu belief, cows help the dead souls’ passage  to heaven.  People offer fruits, bread, beaten rice, curd and money to those participating in the procession, including the cows.

Gai Jatra festivities lasts for a week.

Krishna Ashtami

Date: 13th August, 2009

Venue:  Temples dedicated to Lord Krishna

[Photo: Om Prakash Yadav]

This festival marks the birthday of Lord Krishna. It is celebrated on the seventh day after the full moon in Bhadra. In Kathmandu, devotees flock to the Krishna Mandir located on the premises of Patan Durbar Square. As  Lord Krishna was born at midnight the devotees keep a night long vigil , singing devotional songs.


Date :22nd  August, 2009

Venue: Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva

A three-day-long festival, Teej is mainly celebrated by Hindu women during August/ September to pray for their husbands’ well being and a happy and fulfilling marital life. According to Hindu mythology the divine couple, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were reunited only after the goddess took one hundred and eight rebirths. She fasted and prayed for her husband before she was finally reunited with him. So on this day, like Goddess Parvati, Hindu wives also observe fasting (some without taking water or swallowing their saliva) to honor Lord Shiva and pray for their husband’s long life.

[Photo: Winnie]


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