The longest Hindu festival in Nepal lasts for two weeks and is traditionally observed with prayers and offerings to Durga, the goddess of the universe. Dashain, Nepal’s biggest harvest holiday, is a time for getting together with family, exchanging presents and blessings, and participating in elaborate pujas. Dashain celebrates the goddess Durga, who was fashioned from the shakti, or energy, of all the gods and outfitted with a variety of their respective weapons. To ensure the advancement and prosperity of her worshippers, Goddess Durga, who stands for bravery and prowess, is worshipped and offered sacrifices. In the first 10 days, pilgrims congregate at holy shrines in the evening and at numerous river confluences early in the morning. The series of Dashain festivities known as Ghatasthapana, Phool Pati, Mahaastami, Nawami, and Vijaya Dashami are each commemorated with a unique set of customs.
In their finest attire, men and women visit their elders during Dashain to ask for tika, a dab of crimson vermilion mixed with yogurt and rice, as well as blessings. There is also sword precessions (Paayaa) in different parts of the Kathmandu Valley. At Hanuman Dhoka during Nawami, many animals are formally sacrificed in front of officials, invited guests, and tourists. The Taleju Temple, which is ordinarily off limits, is open to visitors on the ninth day. The full moon occurs on the final day, which is called Kojagrat Purnima. The highlights of Dashain include new clothing, home visits, lavish feasts, kite flying, and village swings. At this time, a significant portion of Kathmandu’s populace departs for their own homes across the nation. On the tenth day, also known as Tika, people can be seen walking around wearing new clothing and having rice tika placed over their foreheads. As people visit relatives’ houses to get tika and blessings, there is tremendous feasting.
Dashain: Significance and History
It represents the victory of the goddess Durga to Shaktism adherents. According to Hindu mythology, the demon Mahishasura terrorized devaloka, the place where gods reside, but Durga destroyed the devils, also known as demons. The struggle between the various avatars of Mahishasura and Durga is symbolized by the first nine days of Dashain. He was finally vanquished by Durga on the tenth day. Other Hindus interpret this celebration as a representation of Ram’s triumph over Ravan, as told in the Ramayana. It represents the triumph of good over evil.
Dashain: Celebration in Days
Even though Dashain is a fifteen-day festival that lasts continuously, several of the days are particularly significant. Let’s learn more about Dashain by going over what happens on various days:
Dashain officially begins on Ghatasthapana. Literally, it means setting a pot or kalasha, which represents the goddess Durga. On the first day of the event, Ghaṭasthāpana falls. On this day, barley seeds are sewed into the Kalash after it has been filled with holy water. The Kalash is then placed in the middle of a square sand block. The remaining sand bed has grains scattered across it as well. The priest then begins the puja by requesting that Durga appear and bless the vessel. This ritual is carried out at a specific auspicious moment that the astrologers have chosen. During Navaratri, the goddess is said to stay in the vessel. The Dashain Ghar is the name of the space where all of this takes place. Two times a day, in the morning and in the evening, a member of the household offers prayers to the Kalash. The Kalash is protected from the sun’s rays. By the ninth day of the festival, the seed will have developed into yellow grass thanks to daily offerings of holy water. The name “jamara” refers to this holy plant. Up until the seventh day, these ceremonies are performed.
Day 07: Phulpati:
A significant event called Phulpati is observed on the seventh day of Dashain. Phul, which means flower, and pati, which means leaf, make form the word Phulpati. The royal Kalash, banana stalks, jamara, and sugar cane are traditionally brought on this day by Magars from Gorkha, which is located around 169 kilometers (105 miles) from the Kathmandu Valley and requires a three-day hike. To witness the occasion, hundreds of government representatives congregate on the Tundikhel grounds in traditional formal attire. After then, the Nepalese Army puts on a magnificent performance, and for the next ten to fifteen minutes, weapons are fired in celebration in honor of Phulpati. By the time the event concludes in Tundikhel, a parade is held before the Phulpati is carried to the Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace.
Day 08: Maha Asthami:
Maha Ashtami is the name of the eighth day of the Dashain festival. Devotees worship both Durga and Kali on this day. It is said that on this day, the fiercest aspect of Goddess Durga, Kali, emerged from the sacrifice of goats, chickens, ducks, and buffaloes. Blood was donated to the Goddess as a fertility symbol by worshippers. The eighth day is additionally referred to as Kal Ratri (Dark Night). The meat of chickens, goats, buffaloes, and ducks was eaten by people as prasad (gifts) from the goddess. The meat is edible through the fifteenth day of Nepal’s Dashain celebration.
Day 09: Nawami:
Maha Nawami, the ninth day of the celebration, is the final day of Navaratri. The festivities continue to this day, reaching their pinnacle. In the Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace, the state gives the sacrifice of buffaloes while receiving gun salutes. The god of creativity, Vishwa Karma, is worshipped during the day, and sacrifices of duck, goat, duck eggs, and hens are made to various tools, machinery, and automobiles. The worship of the automobiles on this day, according to the devotees, will avert mishaps in the future. The Taleju temple’s gates are only open to the public on the ninth day of Dashain. Throughout the day, thousands of devotees visit to pray and praise the goddess.
Day 10: Vijaya Dashami:
The tenth day of the Dashain festival in Nepal is considered the most auspicious, Vijaya Dashami. On this day, the eldest person in the home—typically the parents—places Jamara (Sacred yellow grass) and Tika (a concoction of rice, yogurt, and vermillion powder), as well as blessings with Dakshina (money) and presents. To place tika and receive blessings from their elderly relatives, people typically travel to their relatives’ homes. This custom may persist for four days. Family members get together and eat a variety of foods.
Day 15: Kojagrat Puja:
The final day of Dashain that falls on Kojagrata Purnima, a full moon day, is the fifteenth day of Dashain. The Kojagrata’s literal meaning is “who is awake.” People celebrate Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, on this day. They hold that the goddess, who has been awake all night, will descend to the earth on this day and bestow prosperity upon her. The evening is spent with card games and other activities.