Festival of Binding Sacred Thread in Nepal – Janai Purnima

festival Janai Purnima observed in kathmandu - pashupatinath
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Festival Janai purnima or kwati purne is a festival in Nepal at the beginning of the autumn trekking season in Nepal – plan your holiday to include this fascinating spectacle of Nepali culture and tradition.

Introduction of Festival Janai Purnima

“Binding Sacred Thread” (or, as locals call it; Janai Purnima, Rakshyabandan, Kwati Purnima or Rakhi) is a Hindu festival, which happens once a year. This is the festival for the male to change the sacred thread in a special ritual in the Shiva temples, all around the world.

The sacred thread called janai is worn by Hindu males. All the males are allowed to wear those sacred threads over neck around the arm, after their baptism.

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Picture: Pashupatinth is a Shiva’s Temple at Kathmandu. Thousands of people come here on this special day of Janaipurnima celebration to change the sacred thread and pay homage to god shiva. Pashupatinath is also known as Cremation temple in Kathmandu. The smoke is coming out from the ongoing cremation near the river side of the Temple. This Hindu temple is a hub for many festivals happening in Kathmandu, mostly celebrated by Hindus.

Where to go?

On the occasion of Janaipurnima festival in Nepal, trekking to Lake of Gosainkunda can be crowded. This is in late August – not with tourists but with pilgrims, who trek towards the holy lake of Gosainkunda to change the string. As a trekker and nature & culture lover this Nepal festival will best to trek to some of the lake trek destination in Nepal as follow:

  • Gosaikunda lake trek
  • Numbur cheese circuit trek
  • Panchpokhari trek
  • Jattapokhari trek
  • Dudhkunda trek

Generally, Hindu males wear the sacred thread all the time whereas other ethnic groups might have the sacred thread to wear during baptism ceremony but don’t always wear it. This festival is common among both Hindus and Buddhists and they each have their own religious beliefs for the festival.

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Picture: the holy lake of  Jattapokhari in Numbur cheese circuit trekking trail in lower Everest trekking region: a sacred place for Buddhists and Hindus, the festival is observed here as well.

                                                         

What do people do on this day?

On this Nepali festival, people go to the temple of the god Shiva, or the holy lakes of Lord Shiva; Gosainkunda in Langtang region & Jattapokhari in Numbur region respectively.

Numbur and Kumbheshwor valleys are famous for the holy lakes. Locals and many Indians observe the festival and trek to these lakes to pay homage to their deity.

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Picture: Panchpokhari, a section, lies at Numbur Cheese Circuit on lower Everest Region

On the same day people from Terai strengthen their brother-sister relationship by tying a thread around the wrist. People in Terai call this day Rakhi where brothers give gifts to their sisters and sisters feed their brothers with delicious food and chocolate.

Sisters also bind a thread around their brother’s wrist, symbolizing and strengthening their love and affection.

What do people eat on this day?

kwati-300x259-1Picture: Kwati before processing a soup for festival food

In this Nepali festival the kitchens in Kathmandu valley emit the pleasant aroma of Kwati. Cooked with 9 different types of beans, this hot soup is famous among the Newar Tribe from Bhaktapur, Patan and Kirtipur.

The beans are soaked overnight for proper seasoning before being cooked under pressure and served in a bowl.

Kwati soup is rich in vitamins, protein and calcium, according to scientific research. Kwati soup was first brewed by the Newar community from Kathmandu Valley.

What is sacred thread?

janai-300x200-1Picture: Janai, a sacred thread worn by a hindu man

There are multiple kinds of threads: threads for the wrists, for the neck, and threads offered by a sister to a brother like Rakhi.

Tying a sacred thread around the wrist is common among all cultures here; it is believed that the thread wards off danger in one’s life.

During another Nepali festival (Tihar), on the specific day of worshipping the cow, people tie sacred thread around the cow’s ankle or tail. In Hindu mythology, people face different stages of life even after death; so doing this makes much easier passage to heaven.

Janai, another type of sacred thread is tied around the neck diagonal to chest of a Brahmin & Chhetri man. Men who wear this string know a secret mantra. This secret mantra is known only to those who wear the thread, which is a 3-line mantra to be repeated 5 or 7 times every morning while washing the face and worshiping the janai.

Janai string is believed to have three main Hindu gods – Bhrama, Bishnu and Maheshwora.

If you are trekking in Nepal, ask your guide to show his sacred thread; if he shows the janai that means he is a Brahmin or Chhetri.

Where to go for Celebration spot on Janai Purnima?

On late august the festival is observed at Lake Gosainkunda in Langtang, Lake Phoksundo near Dolpo, and Lake Panchpokhari near Helambu, Lake jattapokhari at Numbur, Dudh kunda lake, Damodar kunda lake, Muktinath temple and in many other Shiva temples.

Thousands of people trek to these lakes dedicated to the god Shiva and millions of people worship their respective beliefs in the Shiva temple during Janaipurnima festival in Nepal.

This day is also famous as the day to renew the knowledge of Jhakri or shamans (witch doctors in Nepal). These Shamans travel from their villages to these lakes and dance with their spiritual mantra and style, their dance is interesting and the way they dress is amazing.

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Picture: Sacred thread on hand, bound by a Hindu priest as a protective thread

About Author

I grew up in the mountains & got university education in Kathmandu to become an engineer. But with homely environment of mountains interest me to become a trekking & tour guide, by passion. I have been 6574 meter to the highest & fortunately got chance to explore most of Nepal and bit of abroad.

Eventually, passion converted to profession and here i am on behalf of Nepalgram - a Trekking agency in Nepal.

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