Udhauli Parva 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Udhauli Parva is an important festival for the Kirati people of Nepal. It is a harvest festival means thanking mother nature for good harvest.  

It is annually celebrated on the full moon night in the month of Mangsir according to the Nepali calendar. This year it falls on 8th December. 

Udhauli festival is celebrated by all Kirat people. It is believed that from this day the winter season starts. So people, birds, and animals migrate from cold regions to warmer regions. It’s mainly celebrated in the eastern region of Nepal. 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. 

Event Udhauli Parva
Date December 8, 2022
Day Thursday
Significance The day celebrates the harvest festival in Nepal
Observed by Nepal

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Udhauli Parva History: 

The Kirat (“Kiranti”) are an ancient people who have been associated with the history of Nepal for thousands of years. Sources from the Kathmandu Valley describe the Kiratas as early rulers there whom may have been cattle-herding tribes. During the Kirat Dynasty Kathmandu was called Yela-khom. According to one of the legendary accounts, the primitive kiratis living in Nepal also lived in Sikkim. They are descendents of one of the Primitive tribes. the Kiratis came out of the shakles of primitive living and slowly and gradually marched towards civilization. This Kirati tribes, as stated earlier inhabited Sikkim. 

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. According to Kirat mythology, Paruhang (God) who used to live in the heavens saw beautiful Sumnima (Goddess) on earth and fell in love with her. He gifted her a beautiful comb and proposed to her for marriage. The marriage of heaven and earth was thus made. Four children were born out of this wedlock. But one-day Paruhang left Sumnima and did not return. 

Sumnina worried about her missing husband for several days. But despite her sadness, she still had her children to love and care for. So time went by and Sumnima waited for her husband to return. One day while Sumnima was in the forest searching for food for her children she found a creeper plant. On tasting this plant she realized that it gave power, strength, happiness and made people speak the truth. 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. 

Finally, when Paruhang returned, she made him wear the buti which made Paruhang also very happy and started telling her the truth about his time in Heaven and earth atop the Chomolungma (Mt Everest). He had meditated and visited the entire universe. 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. 

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Udhauli Parva Significance: 

Udhauli parva is an important festival of the Kirati people. Kirata originally are known to reside in the eastern hilly regions of Nepal. “Kirat” means “lion-hearted people” or “people of a lion nature”. It also means mountain people. The word Kirata is a derivation from Kirati or Kiranti to name the group of people in Eastern Nepal. It falls in the month of Mangsir on a full moon night symbolic of the start of the cold season. The festival also has a mention in the holy book called “Mundhum” of the Kirati people. “Udhauli” in actual terms means “downwards”. 

It also showcases the migration of birds and animals to lower altitudes as winter approaches. In the olden times, the kirati people followed the movements of nature and moved to lower altitude regions as hilly terrain would be cold. This migration would take place on a full moon in the month of Mangsir which is the eighth lunar month. It takes place in the month of November and December as per the English Calendar. This downward migration called Udhauli would be followed by the upward movement of Ubhauli after five months. 

Kirants worship nature and agriculture being the life line they celebrate Udhauli as a festival of thanks to nature for providing them a good harvest. They celebrate the festival by organizing a feast and performing their ethnic dance Sakela Naach. They play musical instruments like Dhol, Jhyamta, baja etc. The Kirant women wear chhit ko guneu (a dress made from a specially patterned cloth) on this festival. It is a colourful, lively affair that celebrates the migration of birds and animals to lower altitudes as winter approaches.  

This day is also celebrated by Hindus as Kul Puja worshipping their ancestors and the cowshed. They celebrate the festivals by stocking new grains and making an offering to the God and Goddesses to ensure a plentiful supply of grains throughout the year. Thus marking the end of the rice harvest season throughout the country. So overall we can say that this day is very important and has a huge significance for the people of Nepal and their culture. And as it is an ancient custom celebrated for thousands of years it works as the cultural heritage for the country as well. 

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Udhauli Parva Celebrations: 

The festival is started with Chula puja (a fireplace exclusively kept for the Kul). The Puja is performed by Kirati Rai priest Nakchhong. After chula puja, nakchhong performs a sacrificial rite (usually with chicken) over a sacred place known as “Sakela thaan”, which is usually under a sacred tree. The Nakchhong signals the completion of the puja by starting the dance himself or herself. After this, the celebratory Sakela Naach is started. 

Thus the focal point of the celebration is a special Sakela dance to the music of traditional instruments like Dhol, Jhyamta, Baja, etc. The charm of this dance is that it is performed by people of all ages together in a large circle. It is a pure form of dance where hands are held and danced irrespective of the relations and age while dancing in a circle. There are male and female leaders in each circle known as Silimangpa and Silimangma respectively. All the dancers follow the lead of lead dancers which is called Sili. 

Beautiful kirati women dance the Sakela Naach wearing ethnic guneu – called chhit ko guneu ordaining their traditional jewelers like shir phol, Sirbandi, chimpti, jun (moon) clip, Phuli, Bulaki, Tilahari, Pote, chandrahar, company har, kalli, etc. Men dance with their traditional wear Daura Suruwal with pheta (white cloth turban) on their head and some adorn it with feathers carrying traditional weapon khukuri and bow and arrow. 

Most Searched FAQs on Udhauli Parva: 

1. When is Udhauli Parva celebrated? 

Udhauli Parva is annually celebrated on the full moon might month of Mangsir calendar according to Nepali calendar. 

2. 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. 

3. Why is Udhauli Parva celebrated? 

The kirati people celebrate the Udhauli festival to commemorate the good harvest giving thanks to Mother Nature. Limbu and Yakka people also celebrate this festival thus marking the arrival of the winter season. It falls in the month of Mangsir on a full moon night symbolic of the start of the cold season. 

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