May 27, 2024, Monday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Holi, the festival of colours in Nepal

The Nepal Weekly
March 7, 2023

Holi festival in Nepal is celebrated on the month of March which falls in the month of Falgun in the Vikram calendar. It is one of the greatest festivals in Terai. Thus, it is celebrated for two days in Terai and only one day in the hilly area. This festival of colour is celebrated as a welcoming of the new season that is spring season. The festival, in the past, lasts for a week ending on full moon day. In the starting on the eight day of the bright fortnight, a Chir, tall bamboo pole decorated with bright colour cloth pieces in a three tier umbrella look erected at Basantapur, Hanumandhoka in Kathmandu.

Chir at Basantapur, Kathmandu

Holi festival is celebrated in many of the South Asian countries. Holi in Nepal is mostly celebrated by the youths. They would gather and stroll around the city all day. A colour of Holi brings joy, happiness and a pleasant spring season. Nepalese way of celebrating Holi is by putting colour on other people, pouring water down on others or shooting water guns on the people. Special foods are made and enjoyed together with family and friends.

According Hindu belief, the root of the festival is story of Holika and Hiranyakashipu, the siblings. It came into practice as a festivity when a devil king Hiranyakashipu plotted to kill his own son Prahlad with the help of his sister Holika. Holika was a recipient of a boon, which enabled her to resist the fire. She entered the fire with Prahlad on her lap. Prahlad, a true devotee of Lord Vishnu was saved from the accident while Holika was burnt to ashes.

Later, Vishnu appeared in the avatar of Narsimha, half man and half lion, and killed the king. This is why Holi begins with the Holika bonfire, which marks the end of evil.

According to another legend, Lord Krishna had developed a characteristic blue skin colour after Putana, a demon, poisoned him with her breast milk. Krishna worried if the fair-skinned Radha and her companions would ever like him because of his skin colour. Krishna’s mother then asked him to approach Radha and smear her face with any colour he wanted. The playful colouring gradually evolved as a tradition and later, as a festival observed as Holi, in the Braj region of India.

In short, it is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil greeting each other with brilliant colours dry or wet or both. Youth gather in some designed open places to celebrate Holi en masse. Tourists and foreigners also enjoy participating in the festival.

On the evening of Holi Purnima the other two events – Chakan Dyo Jatra and Gurumaapaa Yaat Jaa Nakegu (offering rice to Gurumaapaa) events also observed in Kathmandu.

Chakan Dyo is another name of Singha Sarth Bahu who was a businessman from Thamel and had devine qualities. He went abroad for business as well. He had established Bhagawan Bahal of Thamel. There are some legends on his bravery and contributions to the society. His statue is brought out to take a round in the old city of Kathmandu on the evening of Holi Purnima.

Gurumaapaa Yaat Jaa Nakegu is another event organised in the same night. Huge hump of rice is, buff meat, daal etc are cooked to feed once in a year to Gurumaapaa and offered the meal at Tundikhel. The offering is carried by a single person without a stop on the way.

Gurumapa is believed to be an eater of a human child and it describe as the ugly face monster who always starves for a flesh of a human child. He was brought in Itumbahal, Kathmandu by Keshchandra to help him carry load of gold he received initially as pigeon’s droppings some place near Gosaikunda.

Later Gurumaapaa was told to stay away from the city and not to terrorise locals in exchange he would be offered a delicious meal once in a year.

Locals and tourists enjoying Holi at Pokhara