Dashain: Let’s celebrate the largest and longest festival in Nepal

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Happy Dashain
Happy Dashain: Image taken from: http://www.ashesh.com.np/dashain-2013-festivals/

Dashain (aka Bada Dashain or Vijaya Dashami) is the largest and longest Hindu festival, celebrated mainly in Nepal. The Dashain festival lasts for fifteen days and begins on the day of Ghatasthapana  and finishes in the day of Kojagrat Purnima. Throughout the fifteen days, the Nepalese Hindus carry out many ceremonies and traditions as a community. The Dashain festival usually begins in October (Ashoj or Kartik in the Nepalese calendar) and is the longest public holiday in Nepal, All schools, offices and governmental offices are closed throughout the 15-day period of the festival!

Goddess Durga: Original image by Tanmoy Bhaduri


The festival celebrates the various victories of Hindu Gods over Demons, such as lord Ram defeating Ravan in a duel and Goddess Durga defeating the buffalo-demon Mahisasur, as well as many other demons. The festival as a whole is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil and the stories are told throughout the ceremony to provide moral examples to the community. 

Some of the activities throughout Dashain are having fiesta-style parties, enjoying home-cooked meals and flying kites, to represent freedom. The festival usually ties in with the end of the Monsoon season, and some natives believe flying kites will communicate to God to end the rainfall season! People sacrifice a lot of animals in this festival, most of which are the goats, sheep, chicken or buffaloes. The trend of sacrificing animals however, is changing towards fruits and vegetables, as the animals slaughter is nowhere mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and the animal right activists strongly condemn it. Some of they key days during Dashain are:

Day 1 (Ghatasthapana)
Ghatasthapana is the first day of Bada Dashain.  A male family member will plant jamara (usually barley seeds) in moist sand. By the tenth day of the festival, the seeds will have grown to yellow grass, which is used with tika to bless people with prosperity and happiness.

Day 7 (Fulpati)
The special essence of festival gets from this day. On this auspicious day, a military parade is organized at Hanuman Dhoka. The Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Civil Service, Band Music and Panchebaja also join the fulpati parade. People clean their houses and decorate their houses with flowers. Today (19th of Oct) is Fulpati, and most of the festivities in our homes we will be taking places today! In our Dhading home, the kids will be flying kites, playing on the traditional swing and finishing the day off with a barbeque and a trip to the cinema! The children from our Birgunj home will be starting the day with Puja (prayers), followed by kite flying and a trip to the Parwanipur market, where there will be a huge fair! 

See original image
Swinging and Kite flying: Image taken from: http://www.travelmadeasier.com/dashain/

Day 8 (Maha Ashtami)
The festive will be continued as Maha Ashtami. Thousands of goats, sheep, buffaloes, ducks and hens are sacrificed in Goddess Temple almost from every home. In Newar Community, Kuchi Bhoe is prepared in which ritually people should eat two pathi of beaten rice including various types of dishes in a banana leaf.

Day 9 (Maha Nawami)
The ninth day of the festival is known as Maha Nawami. On this day, the Taleju Temple gates of Basantapur are accessible to the general public. Thousands of devotees go and pay respect to the goddess all along the day. This day is also known as Viswakarma day. 

Day 10 (Tika/Vijaya Dashami)
The tenth day of festival is known as Vijaya Dashami or “Tika”. On this auspisous day, tika and jamara (which is sewn in day 1) are taken from elders and blessing is received including “Dakshin” (money). These festivities continue for four days till the rising of the full moon. During that period, family and relatives, who are live apart, meet each other and take blessings from the elders. 

The first 10 days of Dashain celebrates the battles fought by the Gods/Goddesses. The following 5 days celebrates the victories and more fiesta-style parties are held during this period! We look forward to see how our kids in the home will be celebrating Dashain and we will be sure to show you all!

Sources used throughout this blog post include:
http://www.ashesh.com.np/
http://www.drikpanchang.com/
kathmandupost.ekantipur.com

For more information on Dashain please see the links above. Thank you for reading this blog post and continuing to support Our Sansar!

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