The “tagadhari”, people who wear sacred threads, celebrated Janai Purnima, this day is also known as ‘Rishi Tarpani’. On this day, male members of Brahmin and Chhetri communities get sacred threads (Janai) from priests who chant Gyatri Mantra, while others tie a red or yellow cord around their wrists. People believe that tying sacred threads around their wrists will bring them good luck and prosperity. It is believed that Indra, the king of gods was protected by a thread tied around his wrist by his Guru Brihaspati against the war with Bali, the king of demons. Prior to that, he was repeatedly defeated by Bali sans the thread.
However, the Newar community celebrated the beginning of the nine-day festival, Gunhu Punhi. On this day, they offer food and bougainvillea (gunakeshari flower) to frogs in fields on a banana leaf. Kwati soup is relished on as part of festivities on this day. This soup prepared from nine different beans, Family members gather and feast in the belief that eating the “kwati soup” on this day will rid them of serious diseases and keep them healthy. In the older times, and even today, people are bothered by common cold, cough, etc during monsoons due to changing climate as a new season approaches. Drinking soup made of different beans rich with many nutrients provided much needed energy to fight off the germs and strengthen immunity. People also look at their reflection in the Kwati bowls. The reason for such act is that inhaling steam from the soup is considered to be beneficial for one’s health.
Likewise, Rakshya Bandan also known as Bhai Dooj is observed mostly by the Madhesi community, sisters tie an attractive “rakhi” (a talisman, a symbol of protection) around the wrists of their brothers wishing them long life, good health and success. Brothers in return give gifts to their sisters and pledge to look after them. This festival symbolizes a sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm also in the Kathmandu valley and other parts of Nepal. The legend behind the celebration of Janai Purnima on the full moon day is that Lord Bishnu once punished his immodest devotee Bali, by tying a sacred thread, and sent him to hell. Since then, Hindus tie sacred threads around their wrists or other parts of body for their good fortune and to get rid of their sins.
Buddhists observe this day in commemoration of the day the Lord Gautam Buddha defeated the evil power of lust. This episode is well-described in the Buddhist scripture ‘Lalitbistar’. A special fair takes place at Swayambhunath of Kathmandu today for this reason.