Nepal – Shivarati Festival in Pokhara

Pokhara, Nepal, February 2018:  A festival celebrating Lord Shiva – a God of the Hindu brand of religion. The origins are somewhat murky depending on what one reads or who one believes, but everyone agrees on one thing – The National Holiday! Yes, a chance for those who are devoutly loyal to Lord Shiva to trot down to the local Temple for prayers, and the giving of garlands and various other offerings according to the belief. The kids are delighted with a day off school and certainly don’t plan on catching up with homework, and who can blame them. In simple terms, everyone’s happy with a day off!

Here in Pokhara, perhaps the most famous temple is that on Barahi Island, situated in the middle of Fewa Lake.Go(ogle Map) The lakefront is heavily populated with locals waiting for their boat to Barahi. Little blue painted rowing boats mostly, and some rather dubious double boat structures serve to triple passenger capacity to the point of no return! Its a 10 minute ride depending on how enthusiastic the boatman is. Price discrimination is alive and well practiced here with white skinned people paying 3 -4 times more than the natives. Nonetheless its an interesting cultural excursion.

Approaching Barahi Island…

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On Barahi Island with the crowds….

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Exploding Sugarcane: The national holiday celebrating Lord Shiva (Shiverati) culminates after dark with the heating of sugarcane before giving it a good wack on the road. A crack followed by a cloud of rising steam amidst cheers from the crowds gathered around the bonfire is the scene repeated at various locations around Pokhara’s Lakeside district.. Exactly what this represents with respect to Lord Shiva is hard to discover, and i’m still non the wiser. I suspect its just a bit of fun, mainly for the younger generations who have a spare 150 rupees for one long cane of sugar. Children are seen gathering the remains of discarded canes and sucking, vigorously extracting the sweet juices.

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In Summary…

Shiverati Festival occurs February to early March according to the Hindu calendar. A boat from Lakeside across to Barahi Island Temple will cost around 500-600 Rupees for non Nepali or Indian for a return journey. I suspect trying to swim there would be frowned upon! Id definitely recommenced getting involved, especially with the exploding sugarcane after dark.

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