A remarkable number of holidays and festivals affect the working hours of Nepal’s government offices and banks, which seem to close every other day and certainly for public holidays and some or all festival days. Exact festival timings (and thus their public holiday dates) change annually according to Nepal’s lunar calendar. The following are just the major holidays.
Prithvi Narayan Shah’s Birthday 10 January
Basanta Panchami (start of Spring) January/February
Maha Shivaratri (Shiva’s Birthday) February/March
Bisket Jatra (Nepali New Year) 14 April
Janai Purnima July/August
Teej (Festival of Women) August/September
Constitution Day 19 September
Indra Jatra (Indra Festival) September
Tihar (Divali) October/November
Dasain (15 days in September or October) is the most important of all Nepali celebrations. Tens of thousands of Nepalis hit the road to return home to celebrate with their families. This means that while villages are full of life if you are trekking, buses and planes are fully booked and overflowing, porters may be hard to find (or more expensive than usual) and cars are difficult to hire. Many hotels and restaurants in regional towns close down completely, and doing business in Kathmandu (outside Thamel) becomes almost impossible. Most restaurants run a limited menu at this time.
The most important days, when everything comes to a total halt, are the ninth day (when thousands of animals are sacrificed) and the 10th day (when blessings are received from elder relatives and superiors). Banks and government offices are generally closed from the eighth day of the festival to the 12th day.