Dashain Festival Nepal, 2021
According to the annual lunar calendar of Nepal, the most popular, auspicious, and longest festival of Nepal, Dashain is celebrated by most Nepalese people in Nepal and their diaspora throughout the globe.
This festival falls in late September or October, beginning from the Sukla Paksha (bright lunar night) and ends at Purnima (the whole moon night). Although every day is significant, the first, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and fifteenth days are celebrated widely. All government offices, educational institutions, and other offices remain closed during this period.
Throughout the country, the goddess Durga, in all her manifestations, is worshiped with numerous pujas and abundant offerings. In addition, hundreds of thousands of animals are sacrificed for the ritual holy bathing, therefore saturating the goddess for days in blood.
Dashain, a festival of the great victory of the gods over the wicked demons. Among several others, one of the victory stories is the Ramayan, where the lord Ram slaughtered Ravana, the cruel king of monsters, after a big struggle. It is explained that Ram was successful in victory the battle only when goddess Durga was aroused.
The first ninth days indicate the nine days of the furious skirmish between whizz Mahisasur and goddess Durga. Finally, on the tenth day, Goddess Durga decimated Mahisasur, and the rest of the five days signify the triumph with the blessing of the goddess. Thus, Dashain is mainly celebrated with great rejoice, victory over the devils, where goddess Durga is mainly celebrated throughout the nation and several parts of the Indian sub-continent as the divine mother goddess.
In advance, every home is cleaned, painted, and decorated beautifully, and crafted the pictures of gods and goddesses as an invitation to a mother goddess to visit every home and bless the house with good luck for the entire year.
The market is filled with customers seeking new clothes, luxury items, gifts, and foodstuffs for family gatherings. Hundreds of thousands of sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, and buffalos are prepared for great slaughter. From poor to rich, everyone enjoys the festive mood. Anywhere you visit, the aroma of 'Happy Vijaya Dashami' is found.
Why is the Dashain festival celebrated?
By Hindu Mythology, the Dashain festival is a way of acknowledging triumph over an evil spirit. The festival came to light as goddess Durga got a victory against a malicious-feisty demon named Mahisasur, who spread fright and horror. In a war, lasted for multiple days, goddess Durga killed that demon.
The initial nine days of the war show the constant battle between evil and temperance. On the 10th day, after the continuous struggle between vice and virtue, goddess Durga finally won the demon and evil spirits. Along with the grand triumph of Goddess Durga, the festival also admits Lord Ram's victory over devil Ravan with Goddess Durga's blessings. This also proves that signifies that evil cannot win, and it always comes to cease.
Thus, due to its vital meaning, Hindus from the entire planet celebrate this festival grandly as a celebration of truth, always getting victory over sin and deceits.
What is done during the Dashain festival?
In the first nine days, tantric rites are conducted as it is a period of Nava Ratri. After that, the life force is believed to come to life as the divine energy and power of the female, depicted as goddess Durga in her several forms.
All the goddesses who sprung from goddess Durga are Devis, each with distinct aspects and powers. In most goddess temples, the divinity is represented simply as a sacred Kalash, a beautifully decorated water jug. But, somewhere, the statues of a multiple-handed goddess holding lethal weapons are also kept.
It is believed that if she is adequately worshiped, she will be pleased, and the good fortune will be sent. However, if angered, she will neglect then misfortunes are around the corner. Therefore, the mother's divinity is the source of life and the whole thing. The special functions done on a particular day are explained below.
Day 1: Ghatasthapana
The initial day of Dashain is called Ghatasthapana, which refers to pot establishing. A Kalash (holy water vessel) symbolizing goddess Durga often with her statue/poster embossed on the side, is kept in the prayer room.
Around the Kalash, a rectangular sand/clay block is made, keeping the Kalash in the center. The surrounding bed of soil/sand is seeded with different grains as barley, corn, etc. Finally, the priest (especially a male person) intones a welcome, inviting goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her existence.
The room where the Kalash is placed is called Dashain Ghar. The priest worships the Kalash every day, once in the morning and then in the evening, and the seeded land is sprinkled with holy water, and it is shielded from the direct sunlight. By the 10th day, the seed will have to grow five or six inches long yellow sacred grass called Jamara. This is taken as the token of Goddess Durga as well as the elders' blessing.
Day 7: Phulpati
On the seventh day of Dashain, it is Phulpati when people start to clean and decorate the house. Phulpati is a combined word where Phul means flower and Pati means leaves. So, people collect different flowers and leaves and keep them at Dashain Ghar.
On this day, the Kalash, banana stalks, Jamara, and sugar cane tied with red cloth are brought from Gorkha, a neighboring district of Kathmandu, by a three-day walk, about 169 kilometers away from Kathmandu valley.
There is an enormous program at Tudikhel ground where the president, prime minister, ministers, and hundreds of government officials gather in formal attire to witness the event. Then there is a majestic display of the Nepalese Army and a triumphant firing of weapons that lasts for ten to fifteen minutes glorifying Phulpati.
Day 8: Maha Asthami
The eighth day of Dashain is called the Maha Ashtami. Popular as a 'Kal Ratri,' the night, people throughout the nation worship the bloodthirsty Kali, a fierce manifestation of goddess Durga is glorified through the sacrifice of buffaloes, goats, duck, and hens at the mother goddess temples and Dasahin Ghars. The animal sacrifice continues till the dawn, and later great feasts are held in the homes of ordinary people where a large amount of meat and other varieties are consumed.
Day 9: Maha Navami
All the temples dedicated to the mother goddess are filled with people from early morning to dusk. Animals such as he-goat and he-buffalos are slaughtered to honor goddess Durga to satisfy her seeking blessing. As a result, all the courtyards of the temples are filled with deep blood.
People from far and near reach their homes and exchange their happiness, sadness, and more. Every factory, vehicle, and any machinery instrument that we make a living in is worshipped. Moving machinery such as cars, airplanes, and trucks are also honored. They get sacrifices of animals to get the blessing from goddess Durga to protect vehicles and their occupants against accidents throughout the year.
Day 10: Vijaya Dashami
The most crucial day of the entire Dashain festival is Vijaya Dashami, and it falls on the tenth day. On the auspicious occasion of the victory over the devil, people make the whole day colorful. They visit their elders to seek Tika (a dab of red vermilion mixed with yogurt and rice) accompanied by blessings.
The red tika symbolizes the blood that ties the family together forever. Therefore, the ritual of taking tika from all the elder relatives (even the distant relatives) helps renew the community ties incredibly.
The elders bless the younger with the best wishes for their better future. Then, all the family members gather at one place and receive Tika and Jamara from elders one. Then, they celebrate their happiness with each other and have delicious food.
In the evening, family members gather and play cards, sing, dance, and enjoy. The function continues for the next four days. Finally, after four days of rushing around and get-together their relatives, Dashain ends on the full moon day, the fifteenth day.
Day 15: Kojagrat Purnima
An ultimate day of Dashain is Kojagrat Purnima (the full moon day) falls after four days of Dashain day. Kojagrat refers to 'who is awake.' People have faith that the goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, descends on earth and showers blessing whoever is wakeful all night with prosperity and wealth. So people sing-song, dance, and pray in the name of goddess Laxmi.
When is Dashain Festival in 2021?
Festival Day Name
First Day: Ghatasthapana
Seventh Day: Phulpati
Eighth Day: Maha Asthami
Ninth Day: Maha Navami
Tenth Day: Vijaya Dashami
Fifteenth Day: Kojagrat Purnima
Why should you visit Nepal during the Dashain festival?
- Dashain usually falls from late September to October, according to the Nepali lunar calendar. Therefore, it is the most favorable time for traveling in Nepal. During this autumn, travelers witness spectacular mountain sceneries, greeneries everywhere, flowery villages and settlements, magnificent hills, and unique springs throughout.
- Trekking in Nepal during the Dashain festival is quite beneficial; trekkers get both natural and cultural insights to the fullest. Moreover, they can enjoy Nepalese festivals with the locals during their walk. What a fantastic experience!
- Children all around seem busy in kites flown. They fly highly decorative kites from the rooftops and shout "Changa Cheit" whenever kite strings get tangled. Thus, authentichentic insights of 'the Kite Runner' can be witnessed.
- Everyone is in a festive mood. Everyone wishes you 'Happy Dashain,' leaving their all sorrow, stress, and problems apart. Everyone seems happy.
- Temporary swings are constructed out of bamboo and ropes. From children to adults, try out the swings, which can be up to 20 feet high. You can try if you wish. Locals will happily offer you to try out.
- You may attend numerous small fairs held in almost every Nepalese village, which often have Ferris wheels and other rides and entertainment. In large cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara, you can expect to find larger fairs with more options.
- You can observe Dashain parades through the "three royal cities" of the Kathmandu Valley. The display is very colorful and briskly joined. It has a religious basis, for it involves the carrying of numerous statues of Hindu gods and goddesses.
The final say
Dashain is Nepal's religious and cultural ceremony that brings new energy, spirit, and happiness to the people. People get together after a long days' work, enjoy every moment, and gather a memorable experience. While visiting Nepal during this festival, travelers can get an authentic festive experience everywhere. Travelers can visit temples, villages, and even Dashain Ghar and obtain a lifetime memory.