Dashain, Dasai, Badadasai, Vijaya Dashami are the most common names of this festival, observed by Hindus of Nepal and Nepalese origin. Also, Sikkimians, Assamians, and Darjeelingians worldwide celebrate the festival. Dashain gets traditionally celebrated from September to October for 15 days. The meaning and significance of each day are different. On this auspicious festival which brings happiness and promotes unity among the Nepalese, many Nepalese return to their homes no matter where they are.
Starting on Ghatasthapana, it goes on until Kojagrat Purnima. Dashain is undoubtedly Nepal’s most awaited festival thanks to the 10-day break from work and school. In addition, Dashain is the only festival in Nepal that every group of people has celebrated. Togetherness is the essence of Dashain. Further, during the festival period, government offices and private residences are also closed.
Dashain: A historical perspective
The story reveals the victory story of the goodness “Durga” over the evil “Mahisasur”. During the festival of Durga, God Durga is praised for victory over untruth. Accordingly, Dashain’s first nine days symbolize the long battle between demon Mahisasur and the different manifest of Durga. The Hindu scriptures state that these two events initiate the festival.
Another such epic is Ramayana, in which Bhagavan Ram (an avatar of Vishnu) defeated Ravan, the evil demon king of Lanka. Goddess Durga’s blessings made it possible for us to achieve this victory. Unity, triumph, and the beginning of happiness are the essences of the celebrations.
Dashain Festival: The Main Attractions of the Festive
Ghatasthapana – the beginning of the Dashain festival
The day marks the beginning of Dashain. Kalash Deities are worshipped on this day. Kalash means a small pot usually made of metal or copper with sanctified water that is mixed with cow dung, barley seeds and maize seed. For the blessing of goddess Durga, the priest is given the Kalash.
Kalash is established in the Dashain Ghar, or the shrine room. Women are generally forbidden to enter the room where Dashain puja is being performed. Every morning and every evening, a priest or householder worships the Kalash. Holy water is sprayed on the Kalash every day, and the sand is shielded from direct sunlight. On the tenth day, the seed will have grown to six or seven-inch yellow grass. “Jamara” is the name given to a sacred grass.
Read Also: Dashain Ashirwad and Mantra
Phulpati – the seventh day of Dashain festival
Rituals are observed regularly until the seventh day. The seventh day of Dashain marks a major celebration known as Phulpati (sacred flowers).
A royal Kalash containing holy water, banana stalks, Jamara and sugar cane wrapped in red cloth is carried by Brahmans on a decorated palanquin beneath an umbrella embroidered with gold thread. The Phulpati parade is also attended by government officials.
Traditionally, the Brahmins of Gorkha and Kathmandu carried royal Kalash, holy jamara, banana stalks, and sugar cane tethered with red cloth on this day. Their 169-kilometre trek usually requires three days to complete. Nepal Army troops take part in this phoolpati yatra from Gorkha to Kathmandu and Nepal Army organizes PhoolPati Badhai at the Army Pavilion, Tundikhel, Kathmandu.
Maha Ashtami – the eighth day of the Dashain festival
Maha Ashtami marks the eighth day of the Dashain festival. On this day, devotees worship the goddesses Durga and Kali.
Kali, the fierce manifestation of Goddess Durga, is said to have appeared from sacrifices of buffaloes, chickens, ducks, and goats in the following days. It was believed to symbolize fertility for the Goddess to receive blood sacrifices from her devotees.
Traditionally, the eighth day is also referred to as Kal Ratri (night). There will be many Hindus fasting on this day. Every household a sacrifice throughout the day. Until dawn, the sacrifice will continue. People performing the puja in their homes hold huge feasts at which large quantities of meat are consumed.
Mahanawami – the ninth day of the Dashain festival
According to myth, on the ninth day of Dashain, Durga killed all the demons, and the rituals and ceremonies culminated. We celebrate the birth of God Vishvakarma (God of creation) on this day to make our lives happy and prosperous. Offering and sacrificing animals is the most common way to worship the tools. Each year, thousands of devotees come to the “Taleju” Temple gates to show their respects to the Goddess.
Vijaya Dashami – the important day Dashain festival
The day of this auspicious event is when we receive tika and jamara from our elders. The elders will offer tika to our younger ones while we will bring blessings to their homes. Moreover, Dashain is important because it is a day when family members from far away and distant relatives come and receive tikas from the family head. Four days are reserved for this function. The main festival is filled with entertainment, including a grand feast.
In Kathmandu’s valley, you will have an opportunity to witness masked dances when nightfall falls.
Kojagrat Purnima – the final day of the Dashain festival
Indications of the end of the Dashain Festival are marked by Kojagrata Purnima, the full moon day. Kojagrata means “one who is awake”. The Goddess Laxmi, who is synonymous with wealth and luck, will come to earth on this day to bless those who stayed awake all night. Therefore people keep themselves sleepless the whole night, entertain themselves through various means, such as performing dramas, watching classic series or playing cards.
How does Dashain distinguish itself among Nepalese festivals?
Dashain is a festival that people of all ages celebrate. During this celebration, they will meet their separated families and family members whose presence they have not experienced for quite some time.
Celebrations in hometowns are attended by families and friends of people working away from home. Several families come together and put together a spectacular gala, and some play games as well. The communities also make substantial bamboo swings for children to play on. A lot of people fly kites in the sky, enjoying the festivity of the season.
Taking part in Dashain celebrations
In addition to the festival’s high-quality spirit, many Nepalese people participate in various activities during the holiday period to keep themselves occupied. A few Dashain-related activities include;
Kites to fly during Dashain
Kites are considered an important symbol of remembrance of the gods for rain not to fall. At Dashain Festival, you’ll see kites being flown everywhere by people of all ages. A pure blue sky is filled with various kites, each colourful, soaring in the gentle sunlight. A cheerful hum of laughter and happiness engulfs the entire valley.
Dashain – playing cards with your closed ones
The Dasain festival can also be spent playing cards. Playing cards with each other and joking among family members is the most common trend in Nepalese society.
New clothes for the Dashain festival
A vital part of the Dashain Festival is shopping and buying new clothes.
Considering that many Nepalis live in rural areas, they would only buy new clothes and goods during Dashain Nepali Holidays. The festive season also brings festive discounts at almost all the stores in the country, which encourages people to shop.
Enjoying the swings and Ferris wheel
At Nepal’s largest festival, there will also be a variety of exhibitions and festivities. A small bazaar will feature Ferris wheels and traditional swings to entertain the masses. The city areas have access to commercial arrangements.
Decorating homes for the Dashain festival
During this festival, people decorate and clean their homes. By doing so you are welcoming the Goddess, Durga, who ensures luck and prosperity. In addition to the decorations, this is a great family reunion.
Dashain is the festival of seeking blessings from Goddess Durga for her victory against the demon Mahishasura. The festival rejoices bright sunny clear days which adds more festivity spirits to the bloodlines of Nepalese people.