Public Holidays in Nepal are declared by the Government of Nepal at the start of the Nepalese New year for a period of one year which dates are based on the Bikram Sambat (B.S.) Calendar. Bikram Sambat calendar of Nepal is a Luni-Solar Calendar, however, for the celebration of international days and festivals of other religious groups, their respective calendars are used such as A.D and Islamic calendar. People in Nepal celebrate various national, international as well as different festivals of religious groups and communities. Though, it is not unreal that every day there is some festival in Nepal but only a few of these events are observed as Public Holidays in Nepal. Public Holidays may get cut or added depending upon the ruling government decision and on public demand, however, now each province can assign Local Public Holidays if the festivals or any special days of the local community which are celebrated specifically in that region or province only were not included in Public Holidays List by Government of Nepal.
After the Government of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) came into power, many religious and national days were removed from the Public Holidays list and had to be celebrated without Holidays. The national days which were celebrated as public holidays have been changed to non-holidays national days that include Republic Day, Democracy Day, Civil Service Day, National Solidarity Day (Prithivi Jayanti / National Unity Day), and Ethnic Discrimination and Untouchability Eradication National Day. Similarly, festivals such as Ram Navami, Krishna Janmashtami, Janai Purnima, Guru Purnima, etc are now not included in the Public Holidays list of Nepal.
Public Holidays in Nepal
- Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated yearly in honor of Lord Shiva. The name additionally refers to the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance. Shivaratri is celebrated on Trayodashi of Falgun Krishna paksha, a lunar month of the Hindu calendar. As it is celebrated on the night of Chaturdashi, the month’s 13th night, but only once a year. It falls around late winter, February/March of the Gregorian calendar, and on the Falgun of Luni-solar calendar, which is earlier than the arrival of Summer. The festival Maha Shivaratri means “the Great Night of Shiva”. There is a public holiday on this day to celebrate Maha Shivaratri in Nepal. The Maha Shivaratri is a special day for the Nepalese Army as Nepal Army celebrates the day as Nepal Army Day.
- Maghe Sankranti
Maghe Sankranti is a festival celebrated by different communities in Nepal. It is observed on the very first day of Magh of the Bikram Sambat (B.S) calendar. This is a cultural and religious day for Hindus all over the world. Sankranti is the first day of the month, and out of all Sankranti, Maghe Sankranti is celebrated with joy and excitement. This festival is also similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions. Maghe Sankranti is observed in Nepal from Mechi to Mahakali and by different communities and ethnic groups, but all in different ways. In some places, different types of folk songs and dances are performed and in some communities, it is celebrated by cooking sweet potatoes, yams, and sweets and exchanging these dishes with neighbors.
- Sonam Losar
In Nepal, it’s known as Sonam Losar or Lochar. Losar or Lochar is a term used for the new year and is celebrated by different ethnic groups of the Himalayan and hilly regions of Nepal. Sonam Losar is celebrated as the new year for the Tamang community and a public holiday is given only to Tamang people on this day. It is celebrated on the first day of the new moon during the month of Magh according to the Nepali Bikram Sambat calendar. It is celebrated in many parts of India, Bhutan, and Nepal. Tibetans, Bhutanese, Tibetan Buddhists, and certain ethnic groups in Nepal, Bhutan, and India celebrate Sonam Losar.
- Gyalpo Losar
Gyalpo Losar is another Losar celebrated in Nepal by Sherpas and other ethnic groups of the Himalayan and hilly regions of Nepal. The public holiday is given to the ethnic group and communities where this Losar is celebrated in Nepal mainly by Sherpa. Gyalpo Lhosar is also celebrated in Tibet as Tibetan New Year, which falls in the month of February in the English Calendar and it falls on Falgun Shukla Pratipada in the Nepali lunar calendar system. It is celebrated for nearly two weeks. Preparation for the festival begins by making some special kind of Sherpa snack Khapse (deep-fried bread) which is commonly eaten during the day of Lhosar.
- International Women’s day
In Nepal, International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March every year. On International Women’s day, we celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. On this day ongoing gender inequality is highlighted and women who are fighting continuously for gender equality are praised. It’s a holiday only for women.
- Ghode Jatra
Ghode Jatra is a public holiday in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal only, which is observed on the new moon of Chaitra Shukla Paksha in the Eastern Lunar calendar, which basically means it falls in March or April in the western calendar.
This holiday is a popular horse festival that takes place in Kathmandu valley with a grand parade in Tundikhel with acrobats and other performances by Nepali Army.
- Basanta Panchami
There is a holiday on Basant Panchami only for educational institutions. Students and Teachers in educational institutions such as schools and colleges worship and pray to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of Knowledge, on that day. Basanta Panchami is also known as Saraswati Puja, it is a Hindu festival that is celebrated to worship Goddess Saraswati. And Basant Panchami marks the beginning of spring season. Usually, people celebrate Basanta Panchami by wearing a new dress, eating sweets known as Budiya as prasad.
Holi is a popular Hindu festival which is also known as a festival of colors. Holi is celebrated with the use of different colors and colored water. The festival signifies the victory of good over immoral. This festival also celebrates the beginning of a good spring harvest season. Holi is celebrated in the month of February. On Holi, there are two-day public holidays. The first day holiday is provided in Hilly regions and the second day holiday is provided in terai, but now with a mix of culture in both regions, both days are celebrated as Holi in both regions. Different ethnic groups celebrate Holi in their traditional way, however, young people enjoy it in a new way by doing pool parties with colors.
- Nepali New year
Nepali new year is a national holiday in Nepal. This holiday marks the 1st day of the Bikram Sambat calendar which is the official calendar of Nepal. The first day of the Nepali New Year is celebrated by wearing new clothes and by eating delicious foods at home. Although many countries in the world celebrate Gregorian New Year, in Nepal, more priority is given to Nepalese New year and everyone celebrates it. It is also a new year for many states of India such as Punjab, Bengal, etc.
- Labour Day
Labour Day is an international day that is declared as a public holiday in Nepal. It is locally known as Majdur Diwas in Nepal. Majdur diwas is an extremely large and important holiday, this day is celebrated on May 1st every year in Nepal and also in most other nations that observe it. Most of the socialist and labor unions celebrate this day by organizing some programs to improve wages and working conditions of the workforce.
- Buddha Jayanti
Buddha Jayanti is a religious festival that is celebrated by Buddhists as well as Hindus. It is the celebration of the birth of Lord Gautam Buddha. Gautam Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in most of East Asia. Prince Siddhartha Gautam who got enlightened and became Gautam Buddha is the founder of Buddhism and he is also the Ninth Avatar of Lord Bishnu according to Hinduism. Gautama Buddha is known as the light of Asia and was born around 563–483 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilavastu. The day is declared as a public holiday and observed annually nationwide in Nepal to celebrate Buddha’s life and teachings. Buddha Jayanti falls on Baisakhi Shukla Purnima (Full moon of Baisakhi month).
- Gai Jatra
Gai Jatra is commonly known as the cow festival in Nepali. Gai Jatra is a festival that is celebrated in the Kathmandu valley by the Newar community. This festival is celebrated in the month of Bhadra of the Hindu calendar. On this day usually the Ministry of Home Affairs of Nepal announces public holidays in Kathmandu valley. This Hindu festival commemorates those who have died during the year and is celebrated on the first day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadra, which means it usually falls in August or September. It is now celebrated outside Kathmandu valley also, in many other places where there are Newar communities.
- Haritalika Teej
In Nepal Hindu women observe an annual public holiday to celebrate the festival of Haritalika Teej, which is celebrated as the commemoration of the “marriage of the God Shiva to the Goddess Parvati”. It falls on the Tritiya of Shukla Paksha in the month of Bhadra. On Teej Festival, Nepalese women dress up in their beautiful red saris and they fast to honor Lord Shiva and also pray for a happy marriage. The fast taken on this day is one of the hardest fasts as women do not eat or drink anything all day. They only drink water after completing the worship in the evening and do not eat any cooked food until the next morning. Women celebrate this festival to pray to Lord Shiva for a husband like him and married women observe this festival for the long life of their husbands as well as to have the same husband in their next lives.
- Gaura Parba
Gaura Parba is mainly celebrated in the Far western region of Nepal. Like any other religious festival of Hindus, Gaura Parba is also celebrated based on the Hindu lunar calendar, on Bhadra Shukla Ashtami, and that’s why its date changes on the Gregorian Calendar every year. Gaura Parva tends to fall on the month of Bhadra and on the Gregorian calendar, it falls in late August or early September. It is celebrated in Far Western districts of Nepal and also in some areas of the neighboring country India in Uttarakhand State. Gaura Parva continues for three days and is both religious and cultural in character. The Government of Nepal provides a public holiday on the occasion of Gaura Parva for the people of Sudurpaschim. Gaura Parva is an annual Hindu festival that is celebrated by worshipping Goddess Gauri i.e. Goddess Parvati.
- Indra Jatra
Indra Jatra is an important harvest festival in Kathmandu Valley, this festival is also known as Yenyā. On this day there is a public holiday in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Local people of Kathmandu valley take a day off, schools and most businesses are closed on this day to celebrate the festival.
This holiday takes place on the 15th day of Yala which is the 11th month in the Nepal Sambat calendar. Indra Jatra is one of the very important annual festivals in Nepal but more particularly in the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu. “Indra” is actually the name of the Hindu god; god of rain and king of heaven and “Jatra” means “procession”. Hence, in honor of the Hindu god Indra, the Indra Jatra procession is held. There is a public holiday in Indra Jatra. Indra Jatra festival is an eight-day long festival. This festival falls in the month of September and is one of the most exciting and revered festivals of the Newar community in the Kathmandu Valley.
- Constitution Day
On September 20th each year in Nepal, Constitution Day is celebrated. Nepali Constitution Day is a public holiday in Nepal. The adoption of the current constitution was effected on 20th September 2015 by replacing the Interim Constitution of 2007.
Dashain is a 15-day long festival and is the longest and the biggest festival celebrated in Nepal by Nepalese people. It is regarded not just as a religious but also a national festival of Nepal. The Dashain is celebrated on the 10th Day which is known as Bijaya Dashami or Bada Dashain, which is celebrated to commemorate the win of good over evil. The first day of Dashain is Ghatasthapana, and for 9 days, each day Goddess Devi such as Durga, Kali is worshipped which is known as Navaratri. The 10th day of Dashain, Bijaya Dashami is celebrated to commemorate the fight of Goddess Nav Durga with Mahisasur as well as it is also celebrated as the last day of the 10 days long war between Lord Ram and Ravana, in which Lord Ram killed Ravana on this day.
The festival starts from Ashwin Pratipada with Ghatasthapana as the first day of the festival and the Dashain Tika is taken on the Dashami of Ashwin Shukla Paksha (bright lunar fortnight) of the month of Ashwin to the Purnima. The dates of the festival are based on the lunar Hindu calendar. There is a public holiday of 5 days during Dashain, but schools and colleges provide holidays for 1 month which starts from Ghatasthapana of Dashain to Tihar or Chhath festival.
Tihar starts with Kaag Tihar on Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna Paksha and ends with Bhai Tika on Dwitiya of Kartik Krishna Paksha. It is a five-day-long festival celebrated in Nepal and India. Tihar is also known as Deepawali or Divali, but it is celebrated more than just festivals of lights as it is done in most places of India. In Tihar, Bhai Tika is also celebrated on the last day, and from the third day which is known as Laxmi Pooja, Deusi Bhailo is played by young people. Laxmi Pooja is the day dedicated to Goddess Laxmi who is the Goddess of Wealth.
Tihar is the second biggest Nepalese festival after Dashain and is commonly allocated a three-day-long national holiday. The festival is novel in that it indicates reverence to not just the elders and the gods, but also to the animals such as crows, cows, and dogs that have long lived in relationships with humans. People make Rangoli in their courtyard which is intended to be a sacred welcoming vicinity for the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism, primarily Goddess Laxmi. The 5 days festival, Tihar’s 1st day is called Kaag Tihar, 2nd day is called Kukur Tihar, 3rd day is called Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja, 4th day is called Govardhan Puja and the last day or 5th day is called Bhai Tika. There is a public holiday on Laxmi puja, Gobardhan puja, and Bhai tika.
- Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is a regional festival of Hindu People living in the Terai region of Nepal. It is a four days long festival celebrated by the Madhesi Community of the Terai region in Nepal and also celebrated in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar of India. This is a famous festival that starts on the Kartik Shukla Shashti of the Hindu Lunar calendar. It is celebrated in the Mithila region of Nepal as well as in some parts of India. This festival is celebrated by worshipping the Sun god and his wives Usha and Pratyusha. The festival is celebrated as based on the Hindu lunar calendar, and in the Gregorian calendar, it sometimes falls in the month of October or November.
- Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Jayanti is an annual vacation social gathering for Sikhs in Nepal. Most of the population of Nepal is Hindu, however, there is additionally a Sikh community that celebrates the birthdays of the first authorities of Sikhs. A public holiday is provided to the people of the Sikh community on Guru Nanak Jayanti. It falls on Kartik Purnima, the full moon of Karthik month of the Bikram Sambat Calendar.
- Jitiya Parva
It is a festival celebrated by women by fasting the whole day without even drinking water for the long life of their children. It is a holiday only for women who celebrate Jitiya Parva in Nepal. Jitiya Parva is observed in the Terai region of Nepal as well as in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Bihar of India, mostly by Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Magadhi, and Tharu speaking communities. It is celebrated on Ashwin Krishna Ashtami.
- Udhauli Parva, Dhanya Purnima and Yomari Punhi
Especially in the Kirant community, Udhauli Parva is celebrated as an annual festival. It is declared as a public holiday in Nepal for people of the Kirant Ethnic group. The Udhauli Parva is said to be a colorful, lively time, meant to commemorate the migration of animals and birds to lower altitudes as the winter approaches. It is celebrated on Mangsir Purnima.
Yomari Puniyuh is a festival of the Newari community. The festival falls on the full moon day of Thinla. Thinla is the second month of the Nepal Sambat Calendar. The festival is celebrated by worshipping Goddess Annapurna and people eat Yomari (a kind of rice dumpling). Dhanya Purnima is also a festival to celebrate the conclusion of the rice harvest season. All three festivals fall on the same day.
- Tamu Lhosar
Tamu Lhosar is a new year in Gurung Calendar and is celebrated by the Gurung ethnic group of Nepal. Tamu Losar or Lhosar is a new year and declared as a Public Holiday for Gurung ethnic people by the Government of Nepal. Tamu or Gurung people of central Nepal celebrate their new year annually on “Tamu Losar” and it is a public holiday on that day. At this time people have great family gatherings, feasts, and joyful cultural events. Tamu Lhosar holiday falls on Poush 15 of the Bikram Sambat calendar. The Gurung calendar is based on the Solar calendar system which is different than other Losar as Gyalpo and Sonam Losar are based on the Lunar Calendar system.
- Falgunanda Jayanti
Falgunanda Jayanti is the birth anniversary of Mahaguru Falgunanda. The holiday is assigned to the Kirant community to commemorate the teachings and principles of Mahaguru Falgunanda. Falgunanda Jayanti falls on Kartik 25.
Eid is a religious festival of people who follow Islam. Muslim people celebrate this festival by praying to god, wearing new clothes, and eating delicious foods and meat. There are two Eids, and when they will be celebrated is based on the visibility of the moon, if the moon is not seen on the same day as other parts of the world, then the day after the moon becomes visible is celebrated as Eid in Nepal, so dates of Eid in Nepal and other countries may vary. But Muslim Commission and communities are responsible to assign a day for this festival in Nepal. On that day the Nepal Government provides a holiday to only Muslim people who follow Islam. The two Eids are; Eid-Ul-Fitr and Eid-Al-Adha which are celebrated by Muslims, and are based on the Islamic calendar. According to the Islamic calendar which is a lunar-based calendar, Eid-Ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month of the Islamic calendar and Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th (last month) of the Islamic Calendar. However, the local authority of Muslims is responsible to fix dates.
Other National Days and Festivals:
Non-Public Holidays which were once a Public Holiday or still can be changed into Public holidays in the coming Years are mentioned below. As the government has decided to cut off holidays of these events, it may impact these days in the future to get less importance or maybe completely forgotten by the people who celebrate these events with joy and happiness. So these festivals and national days should be provided special attention by the government so that their importance may not fade away. Here are the national days and festivals that are observed in Nepal without holidays but previously were a holiday:
- Prithivi Jayanti
Prithvi Jayanti is a patriotic observance in Nepal to celebrate countrywide team spirit and the birthday of the country’s original unifier, King Prithvi Narayan Shah. It is additionally recognized as National Unity Day. Prithvi Jayanti is a national day in Nepal that falls on Poush 27 of the Bikram Sambat calendar. It is not a public holiday even though it is broadly observed.
The leaders ranging from the President of Nepal to the Prime Minister and commoners all celebrate the day with zeal and a sense of gratitude. The day is the birthday of the founder of modern-day, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who united different tiny states of Nepal.
- Janai Purnima and Rakshya Bandhan
Janai Purnima and Rakshya Bandhan are religious festivals celebrated annually in Nepal. Janai Purnima is celebrated by Hindus who wear the sacred thread called “Janai”. A new Janai which has been worshipped with mantras is changed on this festival. Along with Janai, Rakshya Bandhan is also tied in the wrists of both males and females which is believed to protect one from problems.
Rakshya Bandhan is also celebrated in Nepal mainly in the Terai region by Hindus as well as it’s celebrated in India also. It’s equivalent to Bhai Tika and celebrated for the same reason. Rakshya Bandhan is known as the bond of protection and is also called Rakhi. Rakhi or Rakshya Bandhan is a Hindu festival primarily observed in the Terai region of Nepal, India, and Mauritius.
Janai Purnima and Rakshya Bandhan occur on the full moon day in the month of Shrawan of the Hindu Calendar, which puts it in July or August on the Gregorian Calendar. The festival Rakhi is observed by Hindus, Jains, and some Sikhs also. This is the festival which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. The Provincial Government may declare local holidays in Nepal for these festivals although Janai Purnima is celebrated all over Nepal on this day.
- Naag Panchami
Naag Panchami is a festival committed to Naag or the serpent god and is observed on the fifth day (Panchami) of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the Nepali month Shrawan as per the lunar calendar. On this day, family priests or the head of the household pastes a photo of the Nag or the Snake-God above the major door of the house and worships the serpent deity.
- Rishi Panchami
Rishi Panchami is a festival celebrated by women in Nepal. It falls on the fifth (Panchami) day of Shukla Paksha of Bhadra month of the Lunar Calendar. There used to be holidays only for women on this day nationwide but it has been cut off in recent years. Although, in some parts of Nepal, the local or provincial government announces public holidays. Rishi Panchami is a traditional festival that commemorates the 7 great Saptarishis. In respect of the Sapta Rishis who guided mankind and provided them with education, Rishi Panchami is celebrated by devotees, predominantly women across the country.
- Nijamati Sewa Diwas
Nijamati Sewa Diwas is a day to commemorate civil servants in which only civil servants used to get a holiday. The day is still celebrated in Nepal but offices are now open on this day, so now no holiday. Nijamati Sewa Diwas is celebrated on Bhadra 22 of the Bikram Sambat Calendar.
- Ganatantra Diwas
Nepal’s Republic Day or Ganatantra Diwas is a national day that falls on Jestha 15 of the Bikram Sambat Calendar. The day commemorates the date on which the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal took place on 29 May 2008, which ended the 240-year reign of the Shah kings and declared Nepal a republic country.
But now the Nepal government has cut it off from the public holiday. Earlier on the 15th of Jestha, every year Nepalese used to celebrate Republic Day as a public holiday, now the day is celebrated but offices are open on this day and there is no Holiday.
- Prajatantra Diwas
Democracy day in Nepali is called Prajatantra Diwas. Nepal celebrates the National Democracy Day every year on the 7th of Falgun to commemorate the attainment of democracy which happened after the abolition of the autocratic Rana Regime of over 104 years. In 2007 Bikram Sambat, on Falgun 7, democracy was established in the Himalayan nation ending over a century-old autocratic Rana regime.
- Shree Krishna Janmashtami
Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated on the Ashtami tithi which is the eighth day of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhadra according to the Nepali calendar of Bikram Sambat. This festival falls in August or September of the English (Gregorian) Calendar. On this day there used to be holidays before to celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna. However, if the public demands, the provincial government can also provide a public holiday on this day.
- Ram Navami
Ram Navami is a Hindu festival, which celebrates the birth of Lord Rama to King Dasharatha of Ayodhya and Chaite Dashain is celebrated as Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after killing Ravana and completing his 14 years of exile. These festivals are celebrated both in Nepal and India. Chaite Dashain is also called a small Dashain as the story of this festival is sometimes mixed up with Vijaya Dashami. Though Chaite Dashain is called Dashain, it is celebrated on the eighth day. Chaite Dashain is celebrated on the Ashtami of Chaitra whereas Ramnavami is celebrated on the (Navami) ninth day of Chaitra month of the Lunar Calendar which is the last month in the Bikram Sambat. The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and Sita Samahit Sthal (Uttar Pradesh) and Janakpurdham in Nepal. To celebrate Lord Ram’s birthday there used to be a holiday on this day but it has been cut off now. It is almost the last festival of the Hindu Calendar.
- Haritalika Teej, Jitiya Parva, and Rishi Panchami are observed by females only.
- Ghode Jatra, Gai Jatra, and Indra Jatra are observed in Kathmandu valley only.
- Guru Nanak Jayanti is observed by Sikhs only.
- Nijamati Sewa Diwas is observed only by Civil Employees.
- Eid is observed by Muslims only.