Festivals and 
Special Events
Throughout the Year - 2

Darjeeling

Nepali women singing
Nepali women singing Nepali folk song with Dhampu (traditional musical instrument)

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| July | August | September | October | November | December |

JULY

On 6th July Tibetans celebrate the birthday of His Holiness Dalai Lama.

During the first week of July Tibetans celebrate Dzam Ling Chi Sang - Local Deities' Day.

At the end of July Tibetans celebrate Chokhor Duchen - for seven weeks after Buddha's enlightenment, he did not teach. Finally, encouraged by Lord Indra and Lord Brahma, he turned the Wheel of Dharma for the first time, at Saranath, by teaching the 'Four Noble Truths'.

Sawane Sankrati, is the first day of the Nepali month Sawan. This day they offer prayer to the youngest Devi (Goddess). They believe that if this Devi is angry with someone then he geta scabies. This evening Nepalis in villages shout loudly "go away scabies".

AUGUST

Lepchas celebrating Tendong Lho Rumfaat
Tendong Lho Rumfaat prayer

On 8th August Lepchas celebrate Tendong Lho Rumfaat, the prayer of Tendong mountain. Lepchas believe that they are the descendents of the people who survived the 40 days and 40 nights of rain by going to the top of this mountain.

The full moon of the Nepali month of Bhadau is Newar's (a Nepali caste) Kwati Purne. This day they eat a special gruel/broth made of sprouted legumes.

Guru Purne (Fullmoon of the Gurus) is a special day for Nepali shamanism. This day different Jhankris (witch doctors) come dancing with their special dress and musical instruments to welcome the gods and goddesses on their return after the slumber in Sawan(the Nepali month).

Jhankris in Guru Purne
Nepali Jhankris (witch doctors) on their way to Danra (Observatory Hill) on Guru Purne

On the same fullmoon day is Hindu's Raksha Bandhan (Thread of Protection) this day is celebrated by Nepali hindus as Raksha Bandhan and the priests come to a house and bind a thread on the right hand as a mark of Protection that the Gods will give for another year. Hindus from the plains celebrate this day as Rakhi, the day sisters bind colourful thread on their brother's right hand as a mark of protection.

15th August is India's Independence Day and a public holiday. This day is celebrated with different functions all over the town. Main celebrations are held at the Public Ground in Lebong, with students march-past and drills followed by football (soccer) Final match.

In the middle of August is Naag (Snake) Panchami (5th day of the month) which is celebrated by the Nepali Hindu. Priests go from door to door with special prayer and paste the picture of snakes protecting Lord Bishnu, as protection of Naag for that house.

SEPTEMBER

Nepali Hindu's Kushe Aaushi is in the beginning of September. Hindus believe Lord Vishnu is in the Saligram (stone), Tulsi plant, Pipal tree and Kush grass. This day priest comes home and gives Kush in every house as this Kush is needed to signify the presence of Lord Vishnu in all Pujas (special prayers) done throughout the year.

During early September is Teez, for Nepali Hindus, when the married women go back to their parent's house and celebrate. Its specially prevalent with Chettri and Brahmin castes of Nepalis. One can see women in bright red fariya (Nepali dress like Indian Sari) singing and dancing.

In the middle of September is Biswakarma Puja, a special day for Hindus, when they worship Lord Biswakarma, the god of machines and tools. This day all Hindus worship their tools of trade like their car, machines, computers, etc. This day most Hindus clean the machines and do not run the machine for a day.

OCTOBER

2nd October is Gandhi Jayanti (birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation), a public holiday.

In October Hindus specially Nepali Hindus, have their greatest festival called Design. It's a continuous celebration for fifteen days. This festival starts from Jamare Aunshi (Newmoon, the day barley is sown in temples for dasain. The shrada (remembrance of the dead ancestors) ceremony is also performed during this period.

Newari women in Phul Pati day
Nepali (Newer) women
on their way to the temple on Phul Pati

From the next day starts Durga Puja, Nepalis also call this Shakti (Power) puja, when the goddess Durga (triumph of good over evil) is worshipped for nine days to worship the nine different forms she comes in. Nepalis celebrate this by worshipping weapons like their traditional Khukuri, etc. On the seventh day is Phul Pati (Flowers and petals) when flowers of different kinds are taken round the town in procession and later taken to Goddess Durga in the temple. The eighth day is Maar (the day of sacrifice), this day is celebrated with the ceremonial sacrifice of a buffalo at Dali ground.

The tenth day is Tika day. On this day people go to their elders to get the blessings and the holy food (Prasad) of Shakti puja. This continues till the fullmoon day.

Marooni dance
Marooni Dance
(Nepali traditional Dasain dance)

Tshechu ceremony
Tshechu ceremony in Dali Monastery

During the middle of October (this year on 19th October) Tibetans celebrate Tshechu Ceremony, the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche, the person who brought Buddhism to Tibet). This is celebrated on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan Calendar which falls sometime in June/July but because of the monsoon Thupten Sangag Choling (Dali) Monastery mostly celebrates it during October with traditional Tibetan dance and ceremonies.

At the end of October Tibetans celebrate Lhabab Duechen, Lord Buddha's descent from Heaven.

NOVEMBER

The next important festival of Nepali Hindus is Tihar. The festival begins with Kag (Crow) Tihar when Crows are given good food as they are considered as the messanger of the Lord of Death, Yama. The next day is Kukur (Dog) Tihar. This day the dog is given good food as it is considered the guardian of Yama. The next day is Laxmi (Goddess of wealth) puja or Gai (Cow, symbolises Laxmi) Tihar when the Goddess of Wealth and Cow are worshipped along with money and jewellry. On this day it is customary to gamble. In the evening young girls go from house to house singing Bhaileni (special songs of Tihar) and they are offered money and food. Nepalis celebrate this day with lights and firecrackers in the evening.

The next day is Govardhan puja, when the bull is worshipped. On this day boys go from house to house singing deosee (singing special hymns to spread the message of Dasain), they are offered money and food. This day is specially important for Newars (a caste of Nepali) when they have Mah (self) puja. This day they worship self with special ceremony and a good feast.

The next day is Bhai Tika, when brothers go to their sister's house. There the sisters put a special tika on the forehead and garland them with a garland made of thread and marigold wishing them long life. Sisters offer them special food and brothers give them money and gifts. This is a day of merry making for the Nepalis.

At the beginning of November the Tibetans celebrate Lha Bab Duchen - Buddha Shakyamuni's Descent from Heaven. Buddha's mother had been reborn in Indra's Heaven. To repay her kindness and to liberate her, and also to benefit the gods, Buddha spent three months teaching in the realm of the gods.

End of November Lepchas celebrate Leerum (prayer of the house and prayer of the ancestors), Chenrum (prayer of the nature) and Cheurum (prayer of the snowy mountains, Kanchenjunga is the guardian deity of the Lepchas).

DECEMBER

At the beginning of December Lepchas celebrate Nambun, the day the demon Lhaso Mung Punu was finally defeated after 12 years of battle. On newmoon day they make a rice effigy of the demon and after a prayer they take it away from the house. From the next day they celebrate Nambun with good food, new dress and dances for another 10 to 15 days.

On 10th December Tibetans celebrate the anniversary of His Holiness Dalai Lama being bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the end of December Tibetans celebrate Ngenpa Gu Dzom - Nine bad omens occuring together.

25th December, Christmas, is a special day for Christians and also a special day for all in Darjeeling. Partying and merrymaking last for a few days.

| January to June |  July to December |
| January | February | March | April | May | June |
| July | August | September | October | November | December |


Copyright 2000 Photos : Das Studio, Darjeeling
Copyright 2000 Photos of Jhankri, Newari women, Marooni dance : Hemu Rai, Darjeeling
Copyright 2000 Photos of Lepcha in Tendong ceremony : All India Lepcha Association, Darjeeling
Copyright 2000 : darjnet.com, Darjeeling
Text edited by Mrs. Eva Chettri
Contact us : darjnet@yahoo.com