2079: Celebrating New Beginnings
The Nepali New Year, also known as "Bisket Jatra" or "Navavarsha", is a major cultural and religious holiday celebrated by Nepali people around the world. This year, the Nepali New Year falls on April 14, 2023, marking the start of the year 2079 according to the Nepali calendar.
The Nepali New Year is a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, and renewal. It is a time to reflect on the past year, let go of any negativity, and look forward to a brighter future. The holiday is celebrated with various customs and traditions, including cleaning and decorating homes, wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts, and preparing special dishes. Let's take a closer look at some of the highlights of the holiday.
Bisket Jatra Festival
One of the most significant events during the Nepali New Year is the week-long Bisket Jatra festival, which takes place in the ancient city of Bhaktapur, near Kathmandu. One of the main events of the festival is the pulling of a large chariot carrying the idols of Lord Bhairava (a form of Shiva) and Goddess Bhadrakali (a form of Durga). The chariot is pulled through the streets of Bhaktapur by hundreds of devotees, accompanied by traditional music and dance. The chariot is seen as a representation of the gods' journey through the city, and pulling it is considered an act of devotion and offering to the deities. The pulling of the chariot is also seen as a symbol of the triumph of good over evil, as it is believed that the deities will protect the city and its inhabitants from any harm. The festival also includes a city-wide tug-of-war, with rival teams representing different districts. The festival is an important cultural event in Nepal and draws large crowds of both locals and tourists who come to witness the colourful and vibrant celebrations.
Another popular tradition during the Nepali New Year is the exchange of “sagun”. Sagun is a traditional Newari ceremony that is performed by both Hindus and Buddhists before important life-cycle events or occasions. During the Sagun ceremony, the host presents a plate filled with symbolic offerings to the recipient. The plate may contain boiled eggs or omelette, smoked or fried fish, meat, bara (lentil cake), and rice wine. These items represent the five Tantric elements: earth (symbolizing the being's origin and eventual return after death), fire (which provides warmth to living beings), water (which the being contains), air (which the being breathes), and ether or space (within which the being exists). The Sagun ceremony holds a significant place in Nepali culture and is carried out with deep reverence and respect. It is believed to invoke the blessings of the divine, to bring positivity and good fortune to the recipient. At its core, the Sagun ceremony is a profound expression of love and respect.
During the New Year celebrations, people also visit temples and offer prayers for a blessed and prosperous year ahead. Two prominent temples that see a large influx of visitors during this time of year are the Tal Barahi Temple and Bindhyabasini Temple, both located in Pokhara. Tal Barahi Temple is a beautiful temple is situated on a small island in the middle of Phewa (or Fewa) Lake and is dedicated to the boar-headed goddess Barahi (an incarnation or avatar of Durga). The only way to access the temple is by boat, adding to the enchanting experience. Bindhyabasini Temple, located in the heart of Pokhara, is dedicated to Goddess Bindhyabasini, another form of Durga. It is believed to have been built in the 17th century and is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. A statue of the goddess installed in the temple depicts her with eight arms, holding various weapons and symbols that represent her power and strength. She is also riding on a lion which is considered to be her vehicle, or "vahana," which she uses to travel through the physical and spiritual realms.
In addition to its cultural and religious significance, the Nepali New Year is also an opportunity for Nepali people around the world to come together and celebrate their shared heritage and identity. Whether through traditional festivals, family gatherings, or online communities, Nepali people unite to welcome the new year and all the possibilities it brings.
As we approach the Nepali New Year 2079, let us embrace the spirit of renewal and hope for a brighter future. May this new year bring peace, prosperity, and happiness to all.
Happy Nepali New Year!