Nepal has a vibrant Hindu past and that's reflected in most of its festivals and celebrations. Besides, being the close neighbor of India, Nepal has had a constant history of cultural exchange with it. Therefore most of the Hindu festivals that are celebrated in India are celebrated in Nepal as well. The most important of these festivals are Dipawali and Holi. The Dipawali or Lakshmi puja is celebrated as 'Tihar' in Nepal. The festival is considered very auspicious and is celebrated by both ethnic Nepalese as well as Madeshis, the inhabitants of India. Similarly the festival of color, called Holi in India, is celebrated as Fagun Purnima in Nepal. This festival is very popular among youngsters. Youngsters can be seen sprinkling colored waters on each other on this day. Other Hindu festivals such as Shivaratri, Magh Sankranti and Shri Panchmi are also celebrated with great pomp and show. The Buddhist festival of Buddha Purnima and Buddha Nirvana is widely celebrated as well.
Among the ethnic Nepali festivals, Mata Tirtha Snan (Mother's Day) is the most famous and widely celebrated. This festival falls in the month of Baisakh, the first month of the official Nepalese calendar. A festival called Gokarna Aunsi dedicated to father is also celebrated with much enthusiasm. The Nepalese community all over the world also celebrates a festival called Bhai Tika, based on Rakhi in India.
Among the fairs, the most famous is the one called 'Kumari' fair. This is celebrated to appoint a virgin girl as the caretaker to Lord Shiva in Pashupatinath temple. The procession starts from the ghats of the river and passes through whole of Kathmandu before commencing at the main temple. Though the liberals and leftists frown upon this festival, it is still the most popular fair in Nepal. The other fair that is celebrated with great pomp and show is the Maha Shivaratri fair in Kathmandu. The whole city is immersed in songs and dance where the majority of population is under the influence of local intoxicants. This fair culminates in to orgy at times. A relatively secular festival called Indrajatra is picking up slowly among the masses but is sadly confined to the intellectuals of Kathmandu and leftists in the Tarai region. Both Hindus and Buddhists celebrate this fair. This fair is generally organized in the month of September.
The most prevalent Nepali dish is 'Daal, Bhaat and Tarkaari' (lentils, rice, vegetable curry respectively). This is the main course served in the most Nepalese houses irrespective of the economic conditions, that too in both lunch as well as dinner. Nepali food is much less spicy than Indian food, and many dishes are Tibetan in origin. It seems that Indian influence is only confined to Southwestern part of Nepal.
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