Nepali New Year – Navavarsha
It is time of religious fervor and celebration – the Nepali New Year, known to locals as Navavarsha. Nepal relies upon more than one calendar. As such, residents of Nepal get to enjoy three New Year celebrations, namely New Year on the Gregorian calendar, Tibetan New Year and Navavarsha. The Nepali calendar of Bikram Sambat (or Bikram Era) also runs for twelve months, however, the first month is Baisakh, which corresponds with mid April on the world-recognized Gregorian calendar. As with all New Year celebrations worldwide, Navavarsha is a joyful time for those residing in Nepal and those who are visiting the country.
Nepal boasts a large number of festivals and religious events These occasions are always held with high regard by the Nepalese people and everyone is eager to participate. If you are fortunate enough to be touring Nepal during a festival period, which is very likely, you will find it most enjoyable and enlightening. National festivals in Nepal are held on fixed dates, whereas religious festivals are held according to the lunar calendar.
Navavarsha or Nepalese New Year is typically held in the second week of April which is the first day of Baisakh on the Bikram Sambat calendar. The entire country comes to life with colorful celebrations, rejoicing and social entertainment. On the day of Nepal’s New Year, people typically get together with family and friends for parties and picnics. This important day is celebrated with much pageantry and massive feasts are enjoyed by all. Navavarsha is also a day of religious importance to many. In the morning people will typically make their way to temple to perform puja. Puja is a ritual offering presented to their gods. Then the Nepalese walk around the temple in a clockwise direction ringing the bells attached to the temple as they go. The entire country is filled with cheerful smiles and you are likely to receiving many friendly greetings.
Nepal’s New Year is accompanied by Bisket Jatra or the Festival of Bisket in Bhaktapur. This very important festival in Nepal is a commemoration of the renowned battle of Mahabharata. A large wooden post is set up in the town square and is representative of the victory gained in the battle. Frightening images of local deities stand upon chariots. These gods and godesses are worshiped with offerings of coins, flowers and blood. Images of Bhairab and Bhadra are also hauled around the city on chariots so that they may enjoy a view of the city. A tug-of-war takes place with residents from the lower part of Bhaktapur competing against those from upper Bhaktapur. The group which wins this event is said to be blessed with a wonderful year ahead.
Indeed, tourists in Nepal during the Nepali New Year will find the celebrations most intriguing and enjoyable. Be sure to join in the fun and dancing that is the essence Navavarsha every April.