The crashing showers of the monsoon in Nepal mark the season for rice planting to begin. The Ropain Jatra, roughly translated to "Rice Planting Festival" is celebrated with pomp and fervor. Recently, it has been named to the “Mud Festival”. It is also called Ashadh 15, as it is celebrated on this date every year.
Ashadh (the third month in the Nepali calendar) is the perfect time for rice plantation, as the rain will flood the fields, creating an ideal environment for the germination of the rice saplings.
As agriculture was one of the main occupations in Nepal, most of the farmers depended on it for their livelihood. The crops that they had cultivated were for their families and even distributed whenever there was a surplus.
Before the advent of agricultural mechanization, rice planting was a very hands-on experience. The men took care of making the rice fields arable for plantation by plowing the fields and arranging the drainage system, while the women took care of the actual planting of the rice saplings.
This tradition is still kept alive today. People from a community gather together and march their way towards a designated rice field. One member from each family is encouraged to take part, so the significance and tradition of celebrating Ashadh 15 do not disappear.
A nostalgic moment that Nepalis remember when celebrating Ropain Jatra is eating Dahi Chiura (yogurt with beaten rice). Nowadays, this nostalgic meal is often enjoyed with fruits, especially bananas.
This uniquely Nepali festival has even captured the attention of travelers. They are enthralled by jubilant celebrations and the sense of belongingness they feel, as they mingle with the locals. Some of the memorable experiences you will have are eating Dahi Chiura, playing with mud, singing and dancing to traditional songs, and even trying Chyang (locally brewed alcohol).
Ropain Jatra is celebrated throughout Kathmandu Valley, especially in Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Kritipur, and Khokana. Outside Kathmandu Valley, the destination to be to celebrate Ashadh 15 is Pokhara!
This Ashahd 15, come enjoy the merriment of plowing rice fields as song and dance fills the air, while you take delight in celebrating an authentically Nepali festival!