Culture & Art

Traditions and Festivals of Nepal & Germany

Nepal is a small landlocked country in South Asia; located between two large nations: India and China. It is officially recognized as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. It is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. It is geographically divided into three regions namely: Himalayan region, Hilly region and Terai region.
Nepali culture and tradition is mostly influenced by all of the ethnicities and religions that have been living here since ages.
Dashain is one of the biggest and longest Nepali traditional festival, celebrated for two weeks. During this festival; Nepali hindus worship nine forms or ‘avatars’ of the Goddess ‘Durga’. It is a celebration of the inevitable triumph of virtue over the forces of evil.
Hindu people in Nepal also have the traditions of worshipping animals like dogs, cows, bulls, crows, etc. which is very unique. They worship these animals (and birds) and feed them; during the course of celebration of Tihaar/ Deepawali festival (also the festival of lights); which lasts for five days.
Many people in the Kathmandu Valley, especially from the Newar community celebrate ‘Gai-Jatra’  (the festival of cows); in remembrance of departed souls of family members. People celebrate this festival with laughter, satire, jokes, mockery and processions of decorated cows and children decorated as cows.
Nepali language is the official and widely spoken language in Nepal. However, people from various ethnicities and communities speak different languages. As per 2011 Nepal census, there are 123 ethnic languages spoken in Nepal.
Hindu women have the tradition of observing ‘Teej’ festival in August/ September by fasting, singing, dancing and praying to Lord Shiva. They generally wear red and/or green clothes, garlands and bangles while celebrating this festival. Married women celebrate this festival for the health, progress and longevity of their husbands and unmarried/ single women celebrate this festival, hoping to get good and caring husbands.
They also have the tradition of celebrating festivals for their fathers (father’s day), mothers (mother’s day), teachers (‘Guru-purnima’ or teacher’s day) and brothers/ siblings (‘raakhi’ and ‘bhai-tika’). These unique traditions celebrate the love, bond and intricate relationship between them.
Nepalese have the tradition of worshipping Living Goddess ‘Kumari’, which is very unique and exclusive to Nepal. Kumari is selected from Newar community from Shakya and Bajracharya clans. There is a legend that says that this tradition was started by Malla King Jaya Prakash Malla She is regarded as the manifestation of Goddess Taleju.
Apart from these, other religious groups also celebrate festivals such as Buddha Jayanti – the birthday of Lord Buddha, Eid, Lhosar and Christmas.
Prabin Dhungel

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The Republic of Germany is a young democracy in the centre of Europe. After the Second World War was Germany separated in the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. But the second one was just a shame democracy. The reunification of Germany was on the 3rd October 1990 and is called the Day of German Unity – a legal public holiday.
But this is not the only holiday or festival in Germany. One of the most coming and traditionally festivals is Weihnachten (Christmas). It is a Christian festivals, because circa 60 percent of the Germans are Christians (around four percent are Muslims, circa three percent have another religion, but around 33 percent have no confession). Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and is a family festival. People put a decorated Christmas tree in their living rooms, have a meal with their families and give Christmas presents to their loved ones. The Germans celebrate it at the evening of the 24th of December and waiting traditionally for the distribution of presents. In the northern part of Germany brings the Nikolaus (Santa Clause – but different to the American version) the gifts. In the southern part of Germany comes the Christkind (Christian child). The Christmas markets are a German traditional: Little wooden houses are decorated with fir trees and candy canes. The people are drinking mulled wine and eating sausage or biscuits, buying Christmas stuff and meeting friends and family there.
Karneval, Fastnacht or Fasching are different words in different regions for a street festival just before the traditional Christian Lent time in early spring starts. The carnival session starts at November 11th at 11.11 am and it is also known as the “fifth session”, complementing spring, fall, winter and summer. People are getting dressed up (clowns, animals, super heroes, etc.) at this day. But the main festival starts almost a week before the lent is starting. People getting dressed too, but they also decorating wagons and walking and driveing around the streets. They are giving flowers to the women and “Kamelle” (candies) to the kids, dancing and celebrating together. The roots for the German stronghold Cologne (more than one million visitors every year) are going back to the middle ages.
After the lent is the Christian festival Ostern (Eastern). Eastern  is a synonym for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Germans do not celebrating it so big like Christmas. The Easter Bunny is coming and hides Easter Eggs, chocolate and little gifts in the garden or the house. Some people are going to church, like at Christmas.
In the summer time are many different festivals. One of them is the Christopher Street Day (CSD). It is also a day of remembrance and a demonstration for the rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people – it is better known in the world as pride parade or gay pride. For Germany, the first demonstrations were in Bremen and Berlin in 1979. The biggest CSD parades for Germany in Berlin and Cologne with around one million visitors. The people walking around the streets or drive decorated cars and demonstrate for their rights celebrating the freedom of their sexuality. Some of them are dressed up in vinyl and leather, with dog masks or like beauty queens from Rio.
The Oktoberfest is one of the biggest folk festivals in the world with many smaller offshoots all over the world. The original festival is located in the Bavarian capital Munich, at the Theresenwiesen – a meadow at the centre of the city. Because of the location the Oktoberfest is also known as the Wiesn (meadow). It houses around six million visitors every year with traditional food like pretzels or white sausages and measure mugs of wheat beer.  The festival goes over few weeks and ends at the first weekend of October. It was founded in 1810 by the Kronprinz Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) who married Princess Therese von Saxe-Hilburghausen (namesake of Theresenwiesen). He invited the citizens of Munich to celebrate the weeding in beside the city gates.
One week after Christmas ends the year at Silvester (New Year’s Eve) The Germans celebrate it with their families or friends and at 12 pm there are big private fireworks all over the country. The Germans are also celebrating their birthdays, often by inviting for parties with friends or families.
There are many dialects in Germany, but also a common standard German called ‘High German’. German is an Indo-European language. The border to the South of Germany is marked by the Alps Mountains. In the North the Baltic Sea and the North Sea form a long coastline. The Rhine, one of the longest rivers in the world, flows through the country in the West, the Elbe is the most important river in the Eastern part. The biggest lake is the Bodensee at the Swiss border. Germany is well known for its many castles like Schloss Neuschwanstein (New Swanstone Castle) and it is the country of poets (Goethe, Schiller, Brothers Grimm) and thinkers (Einstein, Planck).  Internationally known composers and musicians are Beethoven, Bach, Brahms and Wagner or Nena, Rammstein and Scorpions. Football is the most important sports with internationally successful teams.
Patrick Klapetz

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