There are numerous festivals to enjoy, a highlight for many people and worth witnessing if you have the chance. Every temple has its special festivals. Some, like Pashupatinath in the Kathmandu Valley, have festivals that draw Hindus from all over Nepal and India. Others are village and family events. At festival times, you can see villagers walking in small groups, brightly dressed and often highly spirited. Two solar calendars, the Nepalese and Gregorian, are in common use, but there are three lunar calendars: Nepalese, Newari and Tibetan. Exact dates of festivals change annually and are calculated by astrologers. The Department of Tourism in Kathmandu publishes an annual brochure. The Nepali New Year is in mid-April and the two most important festivals are Dasain and Tihar in September/October (Nepali months are in brackets).
Magha Sankranti marks the transition from winter to spring. Tribeni Mela, on the new moon, is held on the banks of the Narayani river. Basanta Panchami celebrates the start of the spring season. Ceremonies at Kathmandu’s Hanuman Dhoka Palace, street parades by children and dedications at temples characterize this festival. Magha Purnima is celebrated on the last day of Magha, when bathers walk from the Bagmati river ghats to various temples and take a ritual bath in the Salindi river.