Janakpur’s atmosphere is charged with an intense devotional zeal. New shrines are forever being inaugurated and idols installed, while loudspeakers broadcast religious discourses and the mesmerizing drone of bhajan. Pilgrimage is a year-round industry, marked by several highlights in the festival calendar:
Parikrama As many as 100,000 people join the annual one-day circumambulation of the city on the day of the February/March full moon, many performing prostrations along the entire 8km route. The pilgrimage coincides with the festival of Holi, when coloured water is thrown everywhere and on everyone.
Ram Navami Ram’s birthday, celebrated on the ninth day after the March/April full moon, attracts thousands of sadhus, who receive free room and board at temples.
Chhath Women bathe in Janakpur’s ponds and line them with elaborate offerings to the sun god Surya at dawn on the third day of Tihaar (Diwali) in October/November. Women in the villages surrounding Janakpur paint murals on the walls of their houses.
Biwaha Panchami The culmination of this five-day event – Janakpur’s most important festival – is a re-enactment of Ram and Sita’s wedding at the Janaki Mandir, which draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims on the fifth day after the new moon of November/December.