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Different festivals are celebrated in Nepal by many ethnic groups of various religions in their own unique ways. One of these festivals is Janai Purnima, also known as the holy thread festival, which is celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jain.JanaiPurnima is a Hindu festival that is celebrated by nearly every Nepalese family. This event occurs on the full moon day of the Shrawan or Bhadra month, according to the Nepali calendar. Different ethnic groups of different regions celebrate these holidays in their own unique ways, each with its own importance. This festival is known as Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi by those who live in the Terai area. This day is also known as Kwati Purnima among Nepal’s Newar community.

Janai Purnima is one of Hinduism’s most sacred and important festivals. The festival symbolizes the link of purity and safety. Purnima is the full moon, and Janai signifies sacred thread. The yearly practice of changing Janai is performed by Hindu Nepalese males of the Brahmin and Chhetri groups on this day. Janai is a holy cotton thread worn across the chest by Hindu males, particularly Brahmin and Chhetri men.This thread is only worn by men who have completed the Bratabandhan religious ritual. Bratabandhan is a Hindu ritual that is conducted as a symbolic representation of a boy becoming manhood and being ready to follow the laws of religion faithfully and completely.Pandits or priests give individuals who don’t wear Janai a special colored thread called “Doro” to put around their wrist.  This Sacred thread called Doro is worn for safety and protection, according to belief. On the third day of Tihar celebration, that thread is tied in the tail of a cow after a few months. This ritual is performed to ensure a safe journey to the afterlife.

Thousands of worshippers go to the Kumbheswar temple at Patan, Lalitpur, during Janai Purnima. The temple is part of a bigger complex that includes Bangalamukhi, UlmantaBhairava, and two hiti ponds. The water spring that fills the ponds is said to have flowed all the way from the sacred lake of Gosainkunda, which is located 43 kilometers north of Kathmandu. Taking a bath in that pond on JanaiPurnima is the same as bathing in Gosainkunda.Several pilgrims also visit the three sacred Gosainkunda Lakes, one of Nepal’s most well-known pilgrimage locations. Lord Shiva is said to have formed this lake by digging his Trishul (Trident) into the mountain to extract water so that he could cool his burring thread after swallowing poison, according to Hindu mythology.That is why the water of this lake is regarded sacred, and millions of pilgrims from Nepal and India visit Gosaikunda on the festival of JanaiPurnima.

The Gurung and Thakali ethnic groups also celebrate this auspicious day by holding a Yatungmela (fair) on the grounds of Muktinath Temple. Local Thakali people celebrate it for three days straight with horse racing, drinking, and dancing. A showcase of local items and horse racing are two of the fair’s attractions.

On certain parts of Nepal, people also place items like Kwati, rice, and roti (flatbread) in a leaf in fields to feed the frogs. This ritual is performed in the assumption that the frog delivers rain and, as a result, farmers are able to grow crops in their fields. GaiJatra is another event that takes place the day after Janai Purnima.

-Article written by: Saru Niraula for Land Nepal

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