Teej – festival of women that observes grand feast, tough fast & dances in red

“After the vibrant festival, Gai Jatra and the festival of holy thread Janai Purnima, Nepalese are once again in the festive mood to celebrate the biggest festival of Hindu women, Teej.”

The insect that gave name to the festival - Teej
The insect that gave name to the festival – Teej

Teej, the festival that symbolizes “Dancing in Red” can be observed in Shiva Temples across Nepal. Traditionally Teej celebrates the union of Goddess Parvati, with the supreme Hindu God, Shiva. The festival that normally falls during August or September of the Gregorian calendar blends grand feasts, non-stop dances and the tough fasting. 

“The religious myth associated with Teej involves supreme couple of Hindu God and Goddess, “Shiva-Parvati”. Shiva and Parvati has been the most ideal couple among Hindu devotees. According to Hindu myth, Parvati with the quest to have Shiva as her husband went through many hardships and hence was blessed to have Shiva soul mate.”

Dancing in Red, largest festival of Hindu women in Nepal, Teej
Dancing in Red, largest festival of Hindu women in Nepal, Teej

Four-day long celebration, Teej got its name from the small red insect that emerges out of soil after the rainfall during summer. The idea celebrating in red came from the color of the same insect as per the myth.

Tradition of Teej in Nepal

Traditionally, Teej used to be the festival that reunited married women with their maternal families. The festival also observed grievances women had in their husband houses through the lyrical melodies, which women sang and danced. These days the celebration of Teej has transformed a bit as the communities have transformed eliminating discrimination based on gender. However, the roots of celebrating Teej are still the same. Dancing in the traditional lyrical melodies, attired red and worshipping Shiva for the well-being of husband and entire family after the heavy feast has been the basics of celebrating Teej for ages.”

Devotees at Pashupatinath during Teej
Devotees at Pashupatinath during Teej

Day 1 – Dar Khane Din

“The first day of Teej symbolizes the grand feast. “Dar Khane Din” observes the heavy feast on the eve of Teej. Women enjoy midnight feast, which is heavy enough to let them fast the following day for the well-being of their husbands and the entire family. The unmarried women feast and fast for with the hope to be blessed of having ideal husband like Lord Shiva.”

Colorful hands of a devotee on Teej
Colorful hands of a devotee on Teej

Day 2- the day of tough fasting

“Dressed beautifully in red sari, adorned with ornaments that symbolize their married status, Hindu women on this day go through rigid fasting. Some prefer water and fruits but many prefer to fast without a drop of water and fruits. However, the lyrical melodies and dancing in these tunes go on everywhere and the temples of Lord Shiva are the destinations where women throng to observe this day.”

Observing the thrid day of Teej
Observing the thrid day of Teej

Day 3- breaking the fast

“Women wake up early morning sanctify their body and mind and offer prayers to Lord Ganesha and his parents (Shiva- Parvati). Banana and basil leaves (Tulsi) are mandatory during this prayer. After the prayer, they break the fast eating pure cuisines.”

The final day of Teej - bathing with red mud and Datiwan
The final day of Teej – bathing with red mud and Datiwan

Day 4- Rishi Panchami

“The festival ends with the holy red mud bath and revered leaves of Datiwan. The bath signifies that women are forgiven from all the sins they have committed.”


Gai Jatra in Bhaktapur – festival with unbelievable energy

“Death of the beloved ones is hard to take but Nepalese know the ways to celebrate deaths. After all, death is as certain as the life itself.”

Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
Colorful people observing colorful festival, Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra, the festival that celebrates death in the most beautiful way in Nepal has the long history. In the ancient days, the festival worshipped the lord of Death “Yama”. In the medieval era, the celebration of this festival experienced huge transformation. Attempts to please the queen of King Pratap Malla, who was devastated by the death of her young son, the festival emerged to become one of the most entertaining festivals in Kathmandu that blends the biggest tragedy of life, which is death with the unlimited humor and fun.

Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
Kids attired Godly leading the procession during the festival

The procession of cow that goes around the city demonstrating death of family member the previous year was Gai Jatra in the past. These days’ young kids dressed funnily represent cows. During anarchy in Nepal Gai Jatra,  offered freedom to satire against the government and bureaucrats. The festival falls on the day after the festival of threads Janai Purnima, which is normally on August as per the Gregorian calendar.

Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
The image of the deceased one displayed during the Jatra

In today’s post, we have posted few photographs of the celebration of Gai Jatra in Bhaktapur. No place in Nepal celebrates Gai Jatra as enthusiastically and as energetically as Bhaktapur does. Surprisingly the entire city submerges into it.

Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
Every street of Bhaktapur on this day has such performances

“The Newar Community of Bhaktapur celebrates the festival with colorful procession led by the kids and the chariot with the images of their beloved ones who died the previous year.”


Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
The amazing stick dance being performed in the narrow streets of Bhaktapur by young girls traditionally attired

The stick dance that goes slowly at the beginning and increases its pace as the tempo of the traditional music goes faster is fascinating to observe. The entire town painted with different colors of fascinating human activities has so much to say.

Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
The beats of traditional instruments manifest the energy and passion for celebrating the festival

“This year the celebration was more meaningful because Bhaktapur lost many lives during the devastating quake 2015. The most heartbreaking part was the natives had pains in their faces but still they had accepted the reality of death and were involved in the celebration, which is after all the part of life in the amazing town of devotees.”

Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
The glimpse of Bhaktapur Durbar Square during the festival

The day in Bhaktapur during Gai Jatra is an opportunity to see the highest degree of human energy, unity within communities together paying delightful tribute to their loved ones who died the preceding year and the wonderful colors of natives involved in the jatra rituals.

Gai jatra celebration in Bhaktapur
Little girl traveling to Nepal with her dad observing Gai Jatra in bHAKTAPUR


Festival of threads – Janai Purnima in mid-hills and Rakhi in lowland plains

festivals of nepal, janai purnima

In a country where festivals are the ways of life, “Janai Purnima” also known as the festival of threads is one of the most religiously significant celebrations of Nepal.

“According to the Gregorian calendar on the fortnight, full moon of August the festival is celebrated with great joy every year.”

Ethnics groups like Brahamins, Chettries and Newars celebrate this festival by tying the sacred thread around the wrist by the priest with the enchantment holy Mantra which signifies peace and prosperity. The holy thread tied around the wrist shall be untied on Laxmi Puja, the major celebration after almost three months after Janai Purnima and re-tied on the tails of cows, which signifies the devotion towards holy animal cow and Goddess Laxmi.

festivals of nepal, janai purnima

“The males who have gone through bratabanda “the holy ceremony that makes Hindus eligible of performing holy rituals change the thread they put around their shoulders on this day by dipping into the holy pond or river.”

The major Shiva temples all over the country are filled with devotees and priests surrounding it to tie the holy thread on the wrists of as many as devotees. Devotees believe that bathing in the holy Goshaikunda Lake in Langtang region on this day cleans their mind and soul getting rid of all the sins they have committed till the day.

“In Newar community, the festival is also known as “Kwati Purnima”. Kwati is a special soup made by nine different beans using various spices, which gives a significant taste to the dish. It is believed that after the completion of the plantation season, consumption of this special dish is good for one’s immunity system.”

festivals of nepal, janai purnima
Kwati, the special Newari cuisine during Janai Purnima

The beginning of festive season in Nepal, Janai Purnima shall be observed in the major Hindu Shrines across Nepalese mid-hills. However, in the lowland plains of the country the natives celebrate this day as Rakhi Festival. Rakhi observes sisters tying the colorful threads on the wrists of their brothers and brothers offer gifts or cash to their sisters.

festivals of nepal, janai purnima

The Festival of Energy- Bisket Jatra

Bisket Jatra, Bhaktapur

When it comes to celebration of Jatras or Festivals, the people of Kathmandu Valley manifest amazing energy, the Bisket Jatra itself is the festival of highest level of energy, and truly speaking it is the festival of devoted aggression.

Bisket jatra is one of the major jatras in Nepal celebrated in Bhaktapur. This jatra is celebrated for 8nights and 9days. This festival is held annually during the New year of Nepal i.e. Bikram Sambat. This jatra is devoted towards two major deities, Bhairav and Bhadrakali. Few days past the New Year, these deities are preserved in the sacred chariot (Rath) and pulled to Bhaktapur  Durbar Square through cobbled maze streets  by the energetic crowd. The Rath stays there for a certain period and people from the city come to worship their deities.

The day before New Year, a huge wooden pole (Lingo) is raised at a corner of the town with a long banner hung, which symbolizes the victory of mythological battle. On the day of New Year, the Lingo is pulled down to the ground marking the end of old year.

Bisket Jatra, Bhaktapur

Here we have few photographs of Bisket Jatra- have a look.



The biggest festival in the city of festivals, Kathmandu- Indra Jatra

Festival in Kathmandu- Celebrating Indra Jatra, hundred thousands throng to Kathmandu Durbar Square for a glimpse of Living Goddess, KumariObservers waiting for the glimpse of Living Goddess, Kumari during Indra Jatra, Kathmandu Durbar Square


Known as “Yenya” in Newari dialect, Indra Jatra the biggest carnival of Kathmandu Valley is dedicated to the king of heaven also the provider of rain, God Indra. Celebration of Indra Jatra in Kathmandu is associated with interesting myth of Indra being captured by the natives of Kathmandu. The eight-day long festival is celebrated from Bhadra dwadsahi to Ashwin Krishna chaturdashi according to the lunar calendar, which falls during the months September or October as per Gregorian calendar.

Indra Jatra Celebration at Kathmandu Durbar Square- Linga dragged from Nala in Kavre erected on the far end of Kathmandu Durbar Square

Artistic medieval monuments, pigeons, devotees and the Linga- Kathmandu Durbar Square during Indra Jatra 

The myth- “Holding the provider of Rain captive, the natives of Kathmandu desperately wanted rain”

Indra’s mother Dagini wanted jasmine tree in the gardens of heaven to perform some ritual and hence Indra disguised as human and came to Earth to fetch the plant. While Indra was stealing the plant from a garden in Kathmandu Valley, the natives captured him. Unknown to the fact that the God of Rain was captured Kathmandu suffered extreme dryness; however, the capturers would not free Indra. Dagini came down to the earth in search of her son and discovered that the people of Kathmandu held him captive. Upon Dagini’s request, the people of Kathmandu agreed to free Indra. Pleased with the generosity of the people of Kathmandu, Dagini promised for the timely rainfall and good harvest. She also took all the people of Kathmandu who died that year to the heaven. Since then Indra Jatra is observed enthusiastically in Kathmandu.

Indra Jatra, the biggest festival of Kathmandu

When it is a festival time the people of Kathmandu do not care about anything- Rain??? Their kingdom was conquered  when they were celebrating Indra Jatra

Sweta Bhairav being demonstrated during Indra Jatra at Kathmandu Durbar SquareDevotees offering prayers to Sweta Bhairav during Indra Jatra- a part of ritual of the festival

“History of Indra Jatra in Kathmandu”

King Gunakamadeva introduced the festival in Kathmandu during 10th century. With time, the celebration of this carnival modified. During 16th century, King Mahendra Malla established the ritual of “Mata Biye” where the Newar Communities of Kathmandu honored family members passed away in past year by small butter lamps processions that covered the traditional routes through the old part of the city. In 18th century, King Jaya Prakash Malla added the processions of Living Gods and Goddess, which include the beautifully carved and adorned chariots processions of Kumari, Bhairab and Ganesha. The degree of fun during Indra Jatra is manifested by King Prithivi Narayan Shah’s conquer over the kingdom while the entire town was celebrating Indra Jatra.


Kumari leaves her home during Indra Jatra- An opportunity once a year to watch this sacred beauty being carried to her chariot before her procession

The blue Bhairav performs religious dance during Indra Jatra

Religious dance performed by Blue Bhairav at Kathmandu Durbar Square during Indra Jatra

Celebration of Indra Jatra in Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square (Kathmandu Durbar Square)

The festival starts with the erection if 36 feet long pole carved from a tree and dragged from the forest of Nala, 29 km North of Kathmandu to the erection site at Hunamandhoka Durbar Square. This pole “Yasingh” symbolizes Shiva Linga and dragging the pole to the valley eventually signifies the arrival of lord Shiva in the valley. The festival is also dedicated in honor of “Bhairav” the fearsome form of Lord shiva and the destroyer of evil. This event is followed by the display of head “Aakash Bhairav” in Indra Chowk. It is believed that “Aakash Bhairav” was the first Kirat King, Yalamber who witnessed the battle of Mahabharat. Simultaneously, “Sweta Bhairav” is manifested at Hanumandhoka. The Bhairav with large red mask pours “Rakshi”   (Nepali local liquor) from his mouth. Similarly, “Baka Bhairav” is demonstrated at Wotu- next to Indra Chowk. The integral part of Indra Jatra is the procession of the three golden chariots, which are pulled by locals along the trails of the old city for three days. As the processions arrive at Indra Chowk, Goddess Kumari bows down before Aakash Bhairav that shows her devotion towards the masked deity.

The Lakhey- protector of valley children performs during Indra Jatra

Lakhey performance during Indra Jatra

Masked dancers known as Lakheys who are believed to be the protector of the city children perform spiritual dances symbolizing the human incarnation of lord Bishnu. Majipa Lakhey along with his musical band performs flawlessly through the crowds and into the city spreading the festive mood. The “sawa bakkhu” dance group from halchok, located in the east of the city also performs during the festival, which consists of the dancers and a impression of Bhairav in blue carrying a sword and his two disciples dressed in red. Majipat Devi Nach , Yeravat Hathi (pulu kishi) from Nardavi , Mahakali and Kathi Maka Nach from Bhaktapur are also performed around Hunaman dhoka Durbar Square during Indra Jatra. High Government Officials, including the Prime Minister and the President of Democratic Republic of Nepal and expats of several countries living in Kathmandu also attend the third day function of Indra Jatra at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square.

Arrival of high officials and expats to Kathmandu Durbar Square

The army parade to welcome GoN high officials and international expats to the Hanuman Dhoka Palace 

The festive mood continues

The Linga “Yasingh” is pulled down and taken to Teku where Bagmati and Bishnumati Rivers confluence. At the site, the linga is submerged declaring the end of Indra Jatra. The end of Indra jatra also announces the beginning of “Dashain” and “Tihar” which is celebrated with a great gusto in Nepalese culture.

Article researched by: Anmol Shakya



Teej festival- the largest celebration of Hindu women in Nepal

Teej literally means “third” and the third day after moonless night of Srawan Month of Hindu calendar is an auspicious celebration of Teej. Teej is the biggest festival for Hindu women of Nepal. The festival falls either in late July or in early August according to Gregorian calendar. The festival that commemorates Goddess Parvati wedlock with Lord Shiva is observed for everlasting intimacy between married couples, well being of family and purgation of soul and body. A three-day-long festival allows delicious late night feast as well as tests endurance during 24 hour long tough fasting.

Celebrating Teej in Pashupatinath
Dancing square inside Pashupatinath
Brother carries his lil sis to take her inside Pashupatinath - teej festival
Brother carries his lil sis to take her inside Pashupatinath
Colorful umbrellas but same red saree - Teej festival in Nepal
Colorful umbrellas but same red saree
Teej, women awaiting for their turns to get inside the temple
Teej, women awaiting for their turns to get inside the temple
Hindu lady smiles at a foreign lady at Pashupatinath during teej
A humble encounter- Hindu woman and a foreigner
Foreigners interest in Nepalese festival Teej - Western lady has a beautiful
Western lady has a beautiful “mehendi” colored in her hand 

Teej Celebration in Nepal

The first day of Teej, Dar Khane Din (feast day prior to fasting) kicks off in a grand way. Women married and unmarried especially of Chettri and Brahmin ethnical tribes gather at their maternal locality. Everyone in red and green attire bedecked with jewelries gather at a place where they enjoy singing and dancing. Songs normally have words that describe the holiness and divine power of Lord Shiva. The musical celebration goes till midnight. Meanwhile, men of the maternal family host feast for their sisters, nieces, cousins and daughters offering them complete liberty to enjoy this particular day. After the feast, a 24-hour long fast begins. Teej, a traditional festival where women also express their pains through the lyrics of the songs they sing while dancing.

Teej celebration in Nepal - Women of different ages standing on a line to enter Pashupatinath Temple
Women of different ages standing on a line to enter Pashupatinath Temple
Married women fast for husband's prosperity, unmarried fast anticipating rightful husband during Teej
Married women fast for husband’s prosperity, unmarried fast anticipating rightful husband
Let us all dance to please Lord Shiva - women dancing in Teej festival, Kathmandu
Let us all dance to please Lord Shiva
Married women adorned with jewelries and flowers- Teej
Adorned with jewelries and flowers- Teej
Give me some color- A Hindu woman having Mehendi
Give me some color- A Hindu woman having Mehendi
Hungry and thirsty still a smile dominates the face-its devotion - Teej festival in Nepal
Hungry and thirsty still a smile dominates the face-its devotion 

The second day of Teej is a fasting day. Some women go through tough fasting (24 hours without food and water) while others prefer liquids and fruits. Both married and unmarried women undertake fasting. Married women fast for the blessings of longlife, peace and prosperity of their husband and family. Unmarried fast to be blessed with rightful husband. Women sing and dance to the nearby Shiva Temple to be a part of mass fasting, dance and music.

The Final day of the festival is Rishi Panchami- a day dedicated to holy saints (Rishi refers to saints). After completion of prayer the previous day women satisfy seven saints offering them food, money and different gifts. They also offer prayers to saint deities bathing with red mud, and brushing with datiwan (a type of bush tree). This final ritual of Teej purifies body and soul of women freeing them from all their sins.

Teej in Pashupatinath

This temple dedicated to Shiva is painted red and green throughout during Teej. Several hundred thousand Hindu women throng to Pashupatinath. It looks like women hold 99% of total population of Kathmandu. Everywhere we see women and girls in beautiful red and green attires waiting to enter the temple. Inside the temple thousands stand in a line to enter main temple of Pashupatinath, thousands gather at a place to dance with the music and another thousands are wondering to figure out what to do next. It looks like a world of women devotee fasting hard for the longevity and prosperity of their men and family. Unique in a sense- women celebrate but worship a male deity and hardship of fasting women suffer is credited for well-being of men.

Dance and Music at Pashupatinath - Teej festival
Dance and Music at Pashupatinath
Celebration Hindu women wait every year for Teej festival
Celebration Hindu women wait every year
Legs won't get tired neither the music stops - women dance on Teej festival in Nepal
Legs won’t get tired neither the music stops 

Festival of holy thread- Janai Purnima aka Rakshya Bandhan

Rakshya Bandhan (Janai Purnima) festival in Nepal

Nepal celebrates numerous unique festivals every year. Unique in terms of practice in the other parts of the world; Nepal shares its cultural bond somewhat with India however, the celebration of festivals having same religious importance are different. Among many unique festivals of Nepal, Janai Purnima-the festival of holy thread stands out unique as mantra poured strings are considered powerful protection bonds.

Janai purnima, a holy thread festival for the Hindus most of the years fall on full moon day of August. On this day Hindu men, especially the Brahmans and Chettris perform their annual ritual bath and change their old holy thread (janai) with the new one diagonally across their torso. However, this holy thread is granted to only Hindu males during the religious ceremony, Bartabandan that indicates them of entering the manhood from the childhood. Devotees throng to Kumbeshowr Mela Lalitpur on Janai Poornima to offer prayers to Lord Shiva and tie the thread knot around the wrist. This knot is also called as Rakshya Bandan. Hence, the festival is also celebrated as Rakshya Bandan.

Rakshya refers to “protection and bandhan refers to “bond” so the  knot tied around the wrist is basically a protection bond as per Hindu myth. Regardless of gender and caste, every Hindu ties this protection bond around their wrists during Rakshya Bandhan. Males tie it on right wrist whereas; females tie it on left. Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, Kumeshowr in Patan, Gosain Kunda in Rasuwa, Dudh Kunda in Solukhumbu, Ganga Dhanusagar in Janakpur, Dansadhuma in Jumla, and Vageshowr in Dadeldhura among others, are the major destinations where Janai Purnima or Rakshya Bandhan is celebrated hugely. The major dish during the festival is kwati (a sprout dish of nine types of beans)

The same festival is celebrated as Rakhi in Terai Regions of Nepal. Sisters tie colorful threads on their brother’s wrists. They exchange gifts and brothers vow to protect their sisters lifelong on this revered festival. The Indian communities living in Nepal also celebrate Rakhi.

Budhanilkantha- Vishnu, the major God of Hindu trio sleeps on a bed of serpents

BudhanilkanthaThe sleeping posture of Lord Vishnu in a Cosmic Ocean

Nine kilometers North from the main hub of Kathmandu City lies the temple of Budhanilkantha which is believed to be self emerged. The temple lying at the base of Shivpuri Hill has a floating deity Bishnu, one of the major Gods of Hindu trios. The sleeping posture of Vishnu which is called Jalasayan with his legs crossed on a bed of large 11 hoods serpent is strangely divine in itself. His four hands holding the four symbols of Lord Vishnu, the conch shell, the disc, the club and the lotus flower is gigantic in size floating in relatively small pool supposed to be cosmic ocean by Hindu devotees.

During Haribodhini Ekadashi which normally falls during late October or early November of Georgian Calendar, Hindus believe that Lord Vishnu who sleeps on the cosmic ocean wakes up and on that day thousands of devotees throng to Budhanilkantha to offer prayers to Lord Visnhu. Touching the legs of this sleeping deity on that day is considered very religious as per the Hindu belief.

Here we have few photographs of Budhanilkantha captured during the Nepalese New Year.

The sacred pond at Budhanikantha from where the new year can be best started
The sacred pond from where the new year can be best started
Crowd, hard to control - Budhanilkantha flocks with devotees during Nepali new year
Crowd, hard to control
Butterlights and incense sticks everywhere
Butterlights and incense sticks everywhere
Gods of every religion like flowers - devotees in line at Budhanilkantha
Gods of every religion like flowers
A  senior citizen probably wants to know the future of her family - astrologer are common outside temples in Nepal
A senior citizen probably wants to know the future of her family
Patience to touch the feet of Lord Vishnu - devotees queue up to meet their god
Patience to touch the feet of Lord Vishnu
One common thing in Hindu temples- Ladies in red attires
One common thing in Hindu temples- Ladies in red attires
Gods lives there, where poor live or vice versa - a saint outside Budhanilkantha temple
Gods lives there, where poor live or vice versa 

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