Festivals are a great way of family reunion. In Nepal, Dashain, or Bijaya Dashami, is the longest and most auspicious festival. The festival occurs between September and October, according to the Nepali Solar calendar (Ashwin Month).
As important to the Chinese Spring Festival, Dashain is also celebrated throughout the country. As a result to commemorate the goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon Mahishasura.
In addition to celebrating Durga, Nepalis also celebrate a good harvest and a year of fertility. Meanwhile, Dasain stresses the value of family reunions with a grand feast.
Over the festival period, all public services, educational institutions, and other public sector organizations will be closed.
How many days do we celebrate Dashain? Usually, the festival is celebrated for ten whole days by worshipping different forms of Lord Durga and Shiva. By the end of nine days what we do is indulge in morning puja while the rest of the day is happily spent receiving tikas from the elders.
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According to Hinduism, Dashain commemorates the 10th day. The history states that after Shiva’s wife, Parvati, incarnated as the Goddess of war Durga, fought against the buffalo demon Mahishasura for nine days and ultimately buried him. It is customary to set holy pots, present sacred flowers, and play on the swings during the Dasain. Nepal and parts of India worship Goddess Durga and offer animal sacrifices to her.
The tenth day is considered the most important one in this Nepali festival that lasts for fifteen days. “Dashain Night” is the ninth night of the ninth day. Traditionally, the tenth day is victory, and the public holidays are usually seven days long.
Dashain celebration – Worshipping 9 different forms of Goddess
Dashain’s first nine days are known as Nawa Ratri, the offering of tantric rites. Life is embodied in Durga, Goddess of power and energy in Nepal, one divine feminine form. Each of the goddesses emanating from goddess Durga has her attributes and abilities, known as devils. The deity is typically portrayed as a sacred Kalash, a water jug sculpted in the shape of a goddess holding lethal weapons in most temples dedicated to mother goddesses. These nine days are dedicated to worshipping the Goddess. Worshipping her the right way and being pleased with her will bring good fortune; however, neglecting her will bring evil tidings.
Here we shall discuss the nine forms of Goddess we shall worship throughout the Dashain festival tenure in Nepal.
The Goddess Shailaputri – worshipped during Ghatasthapana
The word ‘Shaila’ refers to mountains, and ‘Putri’ refers to a daughter. Shailaputri literally translates as the daughter of the mountain (Himalayas), Parbati. According to legend, Satidevi, having self-immolated, took the child form of Parbati to appear as a daughter of the Himalaya.
In Hindu culture, Shivaputri is worshipped on the first day of Dashain. It is said that Goddess Shailaputri rides a bull. While she holds a lotus in her left hand and a trident in her right with a crescent moon on her forehead.
The Goddess Brahmacharini – the second incarnation of Goddess Durga
Dwitiya denotes the day dedicated to Mata Brahmacharini.
In Hinduism, Bhrahmacharini is the second incarnation of Goddess Durga. Mata Brahmacharini, the daughter of the Himalayas. The Lord Brahma gave her the name Brahmacharini. Brahmacharini is believed to bring peace and happiness to devotees who pray to her. As always, Brahmacharini is barefoot and carries a Jap Mala in her right hand and a Camandal in her left.
The Goddess Chandraghanta – the third peaceful incarnation of Lord Durga
Chandraghanta, the Lord Durga’s third avatar and a deity of protection. Her arsenal includes a trident, a mace, a sword, a pitcher, a lotus, a bow, an arrow, and a mala for japa.
Tradition highlights her energized act to defeat the evil forces by hearing her forehead moon-bell ring. Therefore, the history also know her as Chandraghanta.
She always comes mounted on a tiger and has ten hands, earning her the name of Dashabhuja Dharini. Known as a peaceful manifestation of Goddess Durga.This Goddess gives strength to face all your fears if you worship her. The bell on her forehead assumes to banish all the evil deeds.
The Goddess Kushmanda – who created the universe with a ‘smile.’
On the fourth day of Navratri, we worship Lord Kushmanda – also known as the “Smiling Goddess”.
‘Ku’ is the first word of her name, and it means ‘little’. Followingly word Ushma, which means energy, and Anda, which means egg. Known as the creator of the “little cosmic egg” we call the universe.
Pictures of her denotes the lord with eight hands, mounted on a lion. With her divine smile and her incredible energy, she created the universe. It was she who wiped out the darkness to spread Light. Worshipped by devotees, she expects to bring good health and to cure various illnesses.
Considered the creator of the entire universe, Kushmanda,the manifestation of Lord Durga.
By worshipping Goddess Kushmanda, we can make better decisions and increase our intellect level. Those who devote themselves to her gain strength to fight illness, difficulties, and hurdles of life. A prosperous, happy, powerful, and salvific world awaits them.
The Goddess Skandamata – mother of Lord Skanda
Goddess Skandamata, the Goddess Durga’s 5th manifestation, honoured on the 5th day of Navratri. As for her name, Skanda, just another name for the war god Kartikeya, while Mata means mother. Therefore, Skandamata referred to as Lord Kartikeya’s mother or Skanda’s mother.
Skandamata portrays Lord Skanda as an infant holding the lotus in her right hand while she holds Lord Skanda in her left hand. Her four arms complement her blue eyes and bright complexion. As a lotus flower-seated goddess, Goddess Skandamata also known as Padamasani. Parvati, Maheshwari and Mata Gauri are also her additional names. She is in the pose of granting boons to her devotees with her left arm.
According to legend, she bestows salvation, power, wealth and treasures to devotees. If a devotee worships her, her son Skand, automatically includes in the ritual. So, the devotee happens to enjoy the grace of both Skandmata and Lord Skand. She blesses devotees with power and prosperity if they devote themselves to her without selfishness.
The Goddess Katyayani – the daughter of Sage Katyayana
Devi Katyayani’s followers worship her on the sixth day of Navratri to achieve strength and courage.
Among all forms of lord Durga, Goddess Katyayani is among the fiercest. Like Goddess Durga, Goddess Shakti, traditionally associated with colour red.
Her name derives from the fact that she was the daughter of Sage Katyayana. Goddess Katyayini was Parvati’s form when she annihilated Mahishasura according to mythology. She is thus the embodiment of the power to destroy evil.
She then proceeded to kill Mahishasura, adorned with weapons by the Devatas just before her birth. A sword and lotus flower in the hands and lion thorn resemble her image. According to scripture, she represents power, courage (Shakti), knowledge, and the victory of good over evil.
In Hinduism, goddesses acknowledged as a source of inspiration for worshippers. As she mainly provides a mirror to see their inherent strength.
The Goddess Kaalratri – the dark skin ‘Durga.’
Dashain’s seventh day dedicated to the Goddess Kaalratri. Known for her fiercest act, Durga, most terrifying form of the Goddess, appealing to the fear of both mortals and evildoers. This Hindu festival consists of two words: KalaRatri means the heaviest of moonless nights, Ratri means the longest time in earthly time. The name Kaalratri denotes the devourer of Kala or time.
Initially the darkest form in the universe, she creates the tapestry through which Light of awareness Devi Lalita weaves her playful act of creation. Kaalratri transcends the passage of time. She dissolves our delusions and brings about the end of creation and Maya. In the Durga pandals, Netra Pradhan, the ceremony of drawing her eyes, performed on this day to honour the occasion.
In addition to her captivating beauty, dark skin, lustrous limbs, and flowing tresses of hair, she rides on a donkey.
The Goddess Mahagauri – known as Vrisharudha
Dashain’s eighth form of Navdurga receives prayers and offerings on a penultimate day. Traditionally, Goddess Mahagauri, believed to govern the malefic planet Rahu. Several Hindu texts depict her mounted on a bull, for which she has another entitle known as Vrisharudha. In the illustrations, Lord Mahagauri appears to have four arms, and a weapon called Trishul. A damaru appears on her second hand, an Abhaya Mudra appears on her third hand, and a Varada Mudra appears on her fourth hand.
Ashtami is the day when devotees worship Goddess Mahagauri. They should present white flowers (preferably jasmine) as an offering and recite mantras. As a celebration of the occasion, nine young girls worshipped in the form of lord Mahagauri.
According to Hindu tradition, Goddess Mahagauri can remove your troubles if you pray to her. The illusory planet Rahu rules by Goddess Mahagauri, so praying to her will remove those defects and bless a person with growth and happiness. Because of this, devotees make Maha Ashtami a day when they should pray for release from sufferings in their lives.
The Goddess Siddhidharti – the lord of accomplishments
Hindu mythology describes the killing of Mahishasura by Goddess Durga on the ninth day of Navratri. In addition to being the Goddess of accomplishment, Siddhi means “giver”, so she blesses her devotees with perfection. Furthermore, the Goddess denotes knowledge and wisdom, enabling devotees to attain perfection, joy, and purity.
The devotees of Goddess Durga worship lord Siddhidatri, her form on this day. Navratri festival ends on this day as well. A red lotus shown in the image denotes Goddess Siddhidatri. Sometimes she rides a lion as well. In her four hands, she holds a conch, a mace, and a lotus. Worshipers of Sidhidatri on Dashain’s 9th day, blessed with energy, skill, and power to succeed in everything they do. Siddhidhatri’s weapons are her mace, chakra, shankha, and lotus, in which she absorbs eight sages.
By the end of the article, we are sure you have come across the nine deities we worship each day from day one of the Dashain festivals. If you have any questions related to the worships process of each Goddess, do let us know in the comment section below!