Naag Panchami and the Krishna Festival

The blend of Hinduism and Buddhism practiced by many people in Nepal makes for a lot of holidays and festivalsI was lucky enough to be there for a few, the biggest of which was the Krishna Festival (officially called ‘Sri Krishna Janmastami’).

BUT FIRST, I’ll show you a few pictures from a smaller holiday, ‘Naag Panchami,’ which is the day of worshipping ‘naags’ (snakes!).  I learned that in Hinduism, snakes are usually thought of as divine beings that are associated with the gods Vishnu and Shiva.  On this day, people post images of ‘naags’ outside their main gate so that the serpent god will protect their houses from snakes and scorpions (it strikes me as a little odd to ask a snake to protect you from snakes, but then again, I’m sure I don’t know the whole story!). 

I noticed these small posters on my way to the studio the day of ‘Naag Panchimi’ – some with small offerings such as grass or pieces of banana stuck to them – and asked my studio mates about them.  They filled me in on what was happening, and told me that the true purpose of this holiday is about water: if snakes are worshipped (i.e. they are happy and healthy in their wetlands), then the water will be plentiful and clean.  I like the pragmatism I see in worship like this…

Here are some photos of the ‘naag’ images on people’s main gates…

naag

naag

naag

And here is a ‘naag’ poster that I had photographed some weeks before not knowing what it was (apparently from last year)…

naag

and then here is this year’s poster right over top!

naag

And now the Krishna Festival…  This day is a celebration of Krishna’s birth.  Krishna is an incarnation of the god Vishnu, and he is very popular – especially amongst women for some reason that I don’t totally understand.  When I asked about this particular point, he was described to me as a “ladies’ man” type of figure….  Interesting, indeed.  So although there are men who celebrate this holiday and they are present for the celebrations, it is thought of us primarily a ‘woman’s holiday.’

People line up to make ‘puja’ (a catch-all term for worship/offerings) at Krishna temples all over Nepal, but the most popular is the Krishna temple in Patan’s Durbar Square, within walking distance of where we lived (lucky us!).  Drew and I made our way down to the Square in the rain that morning….

krishna fest

krishna fest

The Krishna Temple…

krishna fest

There was a large crowd, and many people offering tika…

krishna fest

krishna fest

kri

…women making traditional marigold necklaces…

krishna fest

…and very long lines of Hindus waiting to enter the Krishna temple.  The lines were divided into male and female, and this being a “woman’s holiday,” I’m sure you can guess which one was longest!  And, boy, it was LONG…

krishna fest

krishna fest

The line stretching up into the temple…

krishna fest

We spent some time walking around, people watching, taking it all in…

krishna fest

krishna fest

Poor Drew, holding my umbrella as I took pictures…

krishna fest

We returned that evening to have dinner with our new friends, Robert and Charlotte (I posted pictures of Robert’s exhibition in a previous post, “Art in Kathmandu”).  We started with drinks on a rooftop restaurant and watched the throngs of crowds down below, considerably larger and more festive than in the morning…

krishna fest

We decided to walk through the crowd for a bit of fun, but knew it was a real possibility that we’d be separated.  We came up with the ingenious plan of using these balloons to keep track of each other… AWESOME.  Nerdy tourists, we join your ranks…

krishna fest

And here are Drew and Robert having a bit of fun with those balloons at dinner…

krishna fest

…but I digress.  Back to the Krishna Festival crowds in Durbar Square…

krishna fest

krishna fest

More ‘puja’ at the exit of the temple, although unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly what is going on here…

kris

krishna fest

A young balloon vendor…

krishna fest

And here is a Newari god that “shows up” at festivals, we were told.  His mask was covered in white and black yak hair, and he was dancing about in a frenzy… be sure to check out the video link below!

krishna fest

VIDEO

And one of my favorite things about this festival – the music!  We listened to this great group of musicians for a while… BE SURE to check out the video link below!  It gives you a good idea of how it felt to be there…

krishna fest

VIDEO

All in all, it was a great evening and a wonderful way to experience some Nepali culture!

Back with more about Nepal soon!  Coming up next: weekend trip to Nagarkot.  Yippie!  Until then, Namaste!

 

 

One thought on “Naag Panchami and the Krishna Festival

  1. Just wanted you to know how much I’ve enjoyed your blog posts. What an amazing trip you’ve had. I’m showing Eva so that she can see what fabulous experiences she should have some day. Look forward to more! Dee

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