The Lunar Losar Festival
02 Sep 2019

The Lunar Losar Festival

The monks’ faces show traces of exhaustion. They have spent days preparing for Losar, sitting for hours molding torma, intricate statues made of butter and wax. I stare at the large figure of Mahakala, one of the Buddhist deities sculpted out of the same waxy clay and painted black. At

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The Newari Festival of Death, Gai Jatra
29 Jul 2019

Celebrating Life and Death at Gai Jatra

The traffic moves at festival speed, like honey through an hourglass. The taxi rattles and hums with the smell of exhaust fumes. But the time passes easily with my companion for the day, Junu Shrestha, a tour guide from the medieval city of Bhaktapur. “In this celebration people are more

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The Story of Patan's Bhoto Jatra
25 Jun 2019

The Story of Patan’s Bhoto Jatra

Nepal is one of my favourite destinations for spiritual journeys. The Himalayan country, full of sacred sites, is a centre of love, peace, and serenity. It’s also a land of age-old myths and traditions. Even today these myths and traditions are deep-rooted in the culture of the Nepali people. During my

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Monks Steal the Show at Bhutan’s Punakha Festival
17 Jun 2019

Monks Steal the Show at Bhutan’s Punakha Festival

Located in the picturesque Punakha-Wangdue Valley, Punakha is the former capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Terraced rice fields, fruit orchards and wooden houses against the backdrop of the Himalayas and glacial rivers make it an ideal retreat for those looking to indulge in nature and culture. Each year in

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Bungamati, An Overlooked Hub of Newari Culture
16 Oct 2018

Bungamati, An Overlooked Hub of Newari Culture

Bungamati is an historical village in the south of the Kathmandu Valley. It is easily accessible from Patan by bus (from Lagankel bus station), taxi, or even by walking or bicycle. You cross the Ring Road and follow the main road through Nakkhu and Baisepati. For those with more time

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Guide to the Hemis Monastery Festival, Ladakh, 23-24 June 2018
04 Jun 2018

Guide to the Hemis Monastery Festival, Ladakh, 23-24 June 2018

The Hemis Monastery, 43 kilometres from Leh, is one of the richest and most important monasteries in Ladakh. It is also one of the few monasteries to hold its annual festival in the summer. Therefore, it’s very popular with tourists. If you’re lucky enough to be in Ladakh in June/July,

Elen Turner 0
Snake ornamentation in a water tank. Photo: 
Peretz Partensky/Flickr
22 Apr 2018

Nag Panchami, When the Snakes Have Their Day

Nag Panchami (August 19) is a Hindu festival that worships Nag, the serpent king. Pictures of Nag are posted in doorways, and milk is the prime offering of the day. If you have a keen eye, you must have noticed that snakes are quite prevalent in many wood, metal, and

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The Rato Matsyendranath chariot. Photo: Elen Turner
18 Apr 2018

Patan’s Furious Sage: The Rato Matsyendranath Festival

There’s a festival held in Patan that goes on and on for one entire month–the Rato Mtsyendranath Festival. This year it will be held from May-June. It’s also a festival that has been the foreteller of some tragic events in the country’s history. The focal point of the festival is

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Dashain swing. Photo: socialtours nepal/Flickr
15 Apr 2018

Dashain, Nepal’s Biggest Festival

Dashain is the most important festival in Nepal. It is a celebration of good prevailing over evil. Families offer goats, ducks, chickens, eggs and coconuts to the goddess Durga. People return to their home villages to spend some or all of the fifteen-day festival with their families. Large swings are

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Photo: R4vi/Flickr
11 Apr 2018

The Janai Purnima Festival, or Rakshya Bandhan

The Hindu, Buddhist and Jain festival of Janai Purnima (also known as Rakhsya Bandhan) takes place on the full moon day of Shrawan. Janai refers to a sacred thread worn by men as they come of age, and purnima means the full moon. During this festival, Buddhists bathe in sacred

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