Udhauli and Ubhauli festivals


Nepal is a country of ethnic diversities .Different ethnic communities follow their own traditions and cultures. Fairs and festivals have been a part of each and every ethnic community. Thus one or another kind of fair and festivals are observed throughout the year. Most of the fairs and festivals people observe here are based on religion, culture and mythology.

Many of us are familiar with these festivals taking place in our localities but not with those that people or community residing in other parts of the country. Some of the festivals marked by people in the hilly regions of country are unique and different from others.

Udhauli and Ubhauli are some of such festivals marked by Kiratis. Mundhum the holy book of Kirats mentions that there are two phases in one year that are a Ubhauli and Udhauli. The   word Udhauli is conjunction of the word Uhdo + Auli which means Udhauli or downward. While Ubhauli is a word made up by Ubho + Auli which means Ubhauli or upward. Udhauli and Ubhauli festivals are celebrated in two different seasons (summer and winter) of the year. While Udhauli festival is marked in the month of Mangsir (November/December). Ubhauli festival is marked in the month of Baisakh (April-May). The Kiratis are the inhabitants of the eastern hilly regions – Bhojpur, Khotang, Dharan and Dhankuta .Like many other racial groups the Kiratis are the worshipper of nature .Agriculture being the life line of the this community, the Kirats celebrate the Udhauli festival to thank nature for providing them with good harvest.

They organize feast to celebrate the festival .On the occasion Sakela dance is performed. Hence this festival is also called Sakela Udhauli. Mangsir purnima (Full Moon day of the eight month) is the particular day when Sakela Udhauli is marked. Since the Kirats are the inhabitants of hilly areas they migrate to downwards to protect themselves from severe cold during winter season. This practice of migrating downwards is called Udhauli.

Likewise, Ubhauli festival falls in the full moon day of Baisakh. The festival marks the beginning of the farming season and the arrival of summer. With the celebration of Ubhauli upwards migration begins.

Despite that the Kiratis are upholding their tradition and celebrating Udhauli and Ubhauli as their festival no matter where they have been residing. Apart from entertaining the people, fairs and festivals impart valuable messages.