13 Rituals of Nepal from Birth to Death and Beyond
There are a lot of ceremonies and rituals being performed 365 days of a year. I’ve compiled some of the 13 ceremonies of Nepal that are performed during a baby is born to his death and beyond.
Find out the thirteen rituals of Nepal from Birth to Death and Beyond.
- Chhaithi ceremony (the six days of the baby’s birth) – It’s believed the Bidhatha (the faith writer or say God) writes the faith of a newly born baby on the sixth day. So, till six days family members sit together (say like a group meditation) and wishes for a good fortune to the baby. [For both Boys and Girls]
- Pasni ceremony — This is the celebration of the first time a baby is fed rice and grains. [For both Boys and Girs ]
- Bratabandha ceremony (Nepali/Sanskrit brata = promise, bandhan = to be bound) — It’s equivalent to India’s Upanayana but it’s different. The sacred thread (Janai) is received by the boy during this ceremony, that he continues wearing across his chest thereafter. This Sanskara (rite of passage) involves elaborate Karma Kanda which involves the participation of entire family and a guru (teacher) who then accepts the boy as a disciple in the Guru–shishya tradition of Hinduism. This marks as an individual’s entrance to a school of Hinduism. This ceremony ends after the boy goes for his first alms round to relatives and leave for gurus Ashram. Traditionally these boys were sent to ashrams with the gurus to learn in a gurukul system of education but in modern times this act of the boy doing for first alms round in town and leaving his family for gurus hermitage is done symbolically within the family and is later stopped by his maternal uncle (Mama) from leaving. [For Boys only]
- Gunyo Cholo Ceremony – Just as Bratabandha is for boys this Gunyo Chola is equivalent to the Girls. “GUNYO CHOLO” symbolise for “coming age of a girl”. The word “Gunyo” means Sari and “Cholo” means blouse. This ritual signifies a girl growing up and during this ceremony, the girl’s Mother adorned her with jewellery and her Grandmothers draped a shawl around her to signify protection from evil. [For Girls only]
- Tika-tala ceremony — Equivalent to Pre-marriage vows. The actual ceremony involves the simple exchange of a promise between the bride and the groom to get married. This is usually solidified with spoken vows. After that, the couple agrees to their wedding date. [For both Man and Women including their whole families]
- Bibaha/Vivah — The Wedding Ceremony.
- Dahi-Chiura/Godh Bharai ceremony (the Baby Shower) — It is done after 36 weeks or 6th or 7th month of pregnancy. The mother-to-be is showered with dry fruits, sweets and other gifts that help the baby’s growth. A musical event to please the baby’s ears is the highlight of the ritual, as it was common knowledge that the baby’s ears would start functioning within the womb. The ritual prays for a healthy baby and mother, as well as a happy delivery and motherhood. [For Mother expecting a baby]
- Chaurasi puja (Marking the Transition to Living Ancestor) — It is the ceremonial worship conducted during the age of 84 is one of the unique traditions of Nepal which raises the status of the person next to god and frees them from all kinds of social bonds and restrictions. When the puja is performed, the person is considered similar to the god. If the spouse of the person is alive, they are worshipped together or else, the single person is worshipped. In Hinduism, 84 is taken as a special number. Many people in Nepal do something called a “chaurasi pooja” to mark this special achievement. It is also taken as a special number because there are supposed to be 84 lakh (84 thousand!) life cycles and one can be reborn in different cycles including the human being. [For both Male and Females of age 84 plus]
- Tulsi Sarai — The Tulsi plant is regarded as a threshold point between heaven and earth. A prayer of forgiveness may also be offered to Tulsi. This is done just before a person is about to die. This is to remind that a person should always remember the Brahma (not the tri-gods) so as to attain salvation or moksha. Else, the person who is thinking something else has chances to born again in the same thoughts. So, why not think the supreme God himself. We are so much connected with the materialistic world so we forget everything so the family members or any people around takes the dying person to the tulsi (ie. what Tulsi Sarai means; equivalent to taking him near Tulsi or remind him/her of Tulsi). [For both Male and Females]
- Antyesti or Antim Sanskar (funerary ceremonies) — The last sacrifice to the dead once from the dead time rituals to the cremation (Daha sanskar) rituals. [For both deceased Male and Females]
- Asthi Bisarjan — Collection of bones of the deceased after the 10th day of Daha Sanskar and immersion in the holy river.
- Pindadan — Various offerings are made on the thirteenth day to ensure a happy break from the attachments of the departed Atma with its recent life and allow those left behind to get on with their daily life. That empty space hopefully to be filled by their personal commitments. Healthy grieving is an important process that allows us to free up the energy that is bound to the lost person. It is encouraged to redirect that energy elsewhere. This results in an ability to remember the importance of our loss but with a newfound sense of peace rather than deeply felt pain that can linger for months or years.
- Shraddha (Dead Anniversary) — It is especially to one’s dead parents. Conceptually, it is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace. It also can be thought of as a “day of remembrance”. It is performed for both the father and mother separately, on the days they became deceased. It is performed on the death anniversary.
There are other ceremonies which are impossible to tell and express to everybody. Out of 365 days, we have one or other festivals people celebrating each day.