Udhauli Parva is a festival held yearly on the night of the full moon in the month of Mangsir, which is December 8 this year. ‘Mangsir,’ the eighth month in the Nepali calendar, is December in the Gregorian calendar. This festival commemorates the changing of seasons and the start of winter, as the birds fly toward warmer climates. The Kirant community, where this holiday is most widely celebrated, observes this festival in thanksgiving to Mother Earth for the harvest of the land, and it is celebrated with traditional dancing, singing, and giving thanks for the gifts from nature.
History of Udhauli Parva
Udhauli Parva is based on the Kirat mythology of a god of the sun falling in love with the god of the earth. Paruhang, the god of the sun, fell in love with the beauty of Sumnina, goddess of the land. He was so struck by her that he gifted Sumnina a beautiful comb and proposed marriage. She accepted, and thus the heavens and the earth were joined in marriage and lived together in bliss — until Paruhang disappeared without warning one day.
Sumnina worried about her missing husband for several days. But despite her sadness, she still had her children to love and care for. So while foraging for food in the forest to feed her children, she found a creeper plant that would give her power, happiness, strength, and the urge to speak the truth if she ate it. Believing that these feelings could help others, she made the plant into a Buti (traditional talisman) that people could wear. This talisman helped many to find peace and happiness in their lives, and she was content with that, although she still missed her husband greatly.
After several days, Paruhang returned to Sumnina. Upon wearing the talisman that makes one speak the truth, Paruhang told Sumnina that he had been meditating and visiting the entire universe while seated atop Mt. Everest. Despite all the wonders he had seen and experienced, he still returned home to her and their family and promised that he would never leave again — as if the universe itself could not measure up to his beloved wife and children.
Hearing this, Sumnina danced for joy. Today, this dance is performed at the festival and is known as the Sakela dance. Young girls and boys perform this dance to find love like the kind between Paruhang and Sumnina.
Udhauli Parva timeline
The Kirant people are noted as one of the earliest known peoples to live in the Himalayas.
The Kirant and Tibetan peoples meld, exchanging cultures, beliefs, and traditions.
The first known attempt at climbing Mount Everest takes place, and it fails.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first known climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953.
Udhauli Parva FAQs
Is Kirat a religion?
Yes, the Kirant people practice Kirat Mundhum as their religion. It involves the worship of nature and ancestors and has strong ties to Buddhism and Shamanism.
How do Kirant people worship god?
Kirant people practice shamanism, and their rituals are based on the worship of Mother Nature, the elements, and the home.
Is Kirat Hindu?
No, Kirat is the religion of the indigenous Kiranti ethnic groups, which are found in Nepal, Darjeeling, and Sikkim.
How to Observe Udhauli Parva
It’s expensive to fly around mountainous Nepal, but the experience is worth the cost. The stunning scenery and rich culture all combine to offer you a warm welcome that will sweep you off your feet and leave you thinking about your adventure for years to come.
Observe Udhauli Parva
Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, you absolutely should take the opportunity to observe the festivities as they happen, if you get the chance. By simply watching, you are seeing thousands of years of history in action and helping to perpetuate its heritage by having been there to observe it and take that experience with you afterward.
Teach the next generation
Take the opportunity to teach younger ones about the myth and history behind this festival. Tell kids the story of Paruhang and Sumnina, involve them in preparations for the festivities, and encourage them to actively participate when the full moon rises!
5 Facts About Nepal That Will Blow Your Mind
Descent from the mountain
The Kirat people used to celebrate Udhauli Parva while beginning their migration down from the mountains as winter starts to set in.
Highest and deepest lakes
The Himalayas in Nepal are home to lakes with the highest altitudes and greatest depths in the world.
No culture clash
Nepal has never experienced any violent cultural clashes resulting in spilled blood; instead, the country is home to more than 80 indigenous groups coexisting peacefully.
Feet are unclean
In Nepal it’s considered rude to touch anything or anyone with your feet — even stepping on or over someone is proscribed.
P.D.A. is illegal
In Nepal, public display of affection is heavily frowned on and considered illegal, and breaking this rule can result in your getting arrested.
Why Udhauli Parva is Important
It’s an expression of culture
We think that this festival, with a thousand-year history, is one of the greatest examples of how a culture lives on through people more than through artifacts. The Kirant community celebrating Udhauli Parva is a beautiful tradition that we hope sticks around for thousands more years.
It celebrates nature
Despite the Himalayas’ being a land of rugged and ever-changing terrain, the Kirant people were still grateful to the land for what it provided them. We think this mindfulness of the earth and what it produces for people is an amazing example of how humans and nature can coexist.
The Sakela dance performed during the festival presents an opportunity for the younger people of the community to find love. The dance encourages young folks to put themselves out there and be open to finding love or having it find them.
Udhauli Parva dates