Festivals in Nepal > Dashain
About Dashain :
Dashain is the longest and the most important festival of
Nepal. Generally Dashain falls in late September to mid October, right
after the monsoon season in Nepal. Dashain gets many
different nick names as Dasara, Bada Dashain, Vijaya Dashain,
Durga Puja, all of which mean the same thing, Dashain, a day
of Victory over Demons.
According to the legend, the bloodthirsty
Goddess, Durga conquered evils on the Dashain day. Huge
amount of animal sacrifices take place during the festival in
temples and in home to please the Goddess Durga. Some people may take such animal sacrifices
negatively but they might forget how they came by their meat on their plate! There are lots of western countries consuming mass amount of meat, animals are
slaughtered in factories by the hundreds and thousands. The final day of the festival is known as `Tika', a day on which
the elder ones give `Tika' to the younger ones and to
other relatives who come for their blessings.
Dashain is big in Nepal mainly for the followings :
- Holidays - Rest and Relaxation for nearly 10 days!
This is the longest festival in Nepal. It allows one to travel and be with family and friends for upto a week or more.
- Shopping - Clothes for wife, children, dad, mum, and all except you!
In spite of extreme hardship, during the festival season, Nepalese families manage to shop if not for all, but at least for the children.
Clothes are the most selling item during the season.
Those who could not afford to wear even a single new cloth in the entire year will now attempt!
- Dashain Bonus - Nepali Government gives Bonus to government workers as a Dashain bonus (Usually equals to one's monthly salary). Some private companies such as Banks do the same. Farmers earn their bonus by selling their highly demanded agriculture and live-stock products in return for a good cash
- Eating - Meat Products, Sweets, Fruits, and meat products again!.
Dashain's most popular cuisine is meat, and in popularity order are goat meat, sheep, buffalo, duck, and chicken. Meat is expensive and poor to middle class families usually can not afford it.
So dashain is the time of eating lots of meat.
Usually animals are bought live from the animal market such as Kalanki Bazaar, Bag Bazaar, and sacrificed at home or in temples.
At home, the whole family is involved in cutting and preparing the meat which usually lasts for 2 to 3 day's of feast. But some family prefer to buy the meat already prepared by Butchers
- Visiting - Meet your Family and Friends near and far
Dashain is also about forgiveness, kindness and respect, all of which prevails so broken families come together.
Cities suddenly seems to empty itself, more people returning back in villages or terai (lower, flat region of Nepal) than that of people joining families in cities. During this season, city rushes to book tickets, bus or plane!
- Kites - Children love the season also for flying Kites
If you visit Kathmandu or any other city during this season, the day-sky is filled with colorful kites like shinning stars in the night!
- Tika and Love - Receiving and Giving Tika and Respect.
Getting a tika from an older person in your family or from relatives or from anyone is a blessing.
Dashain tika begins from the oldest person in your family giving tika to the youngest then the second youngest in the family and so on.
Faith, hope, inspiration and blessings, all come alive in Dashain.
- Money Notes - stacks of notes to give!
Receive a tika and offer money notes as an appreciation. Popular Dashain notes are Rupees 2, 5, 10, and Rupees 25.
Everybody tries to exchange for smaller and new notes, so banks are usually busy during the season.
- Cleaning - Clean and decorate homes
Walls get a new coat of paints, roads are cleaned better than before, temples are decorated with lights,
villagers join together to clean and build new trails, paint their homes using red-colored mud. People clean themselves mentally too by visiting various temples and worshiping during the festival.
- Puja - Worshiping God for Peace and Prosperity
Various pujas are performed from beginning to the end of Dashain.
- Gambling - although not legal in Nepal, but it's played!
Playing cards are popular during Dashain. Usually family members play cards with each-other or with friends for money.
- Fairs and Celebration - ride, eat, play games, be with friends!
Village children ride on Ferris wheels, and swings built using traditional methods (ropes made from tough grass,
bamboo sticks and wood). Commercial fairs and celebration events are organized in cities.
DAYS of DASHAIN
1st Dashain Day
(Pot Day) : In the evening or at the time announced
by Astrologers, a clay pot is filled with a mixture of sand
and soil and Barley seeds are sown after performing Puja
(Worshiping God). The pot is kept isolated from sun-light and
a Puja is performed on it every evening till the last day of
Dashain. On the last day, the yellow leaves (seedlings) are
collected from the pot and are placed at the back of ear or
hooked in hairs after Tika (a colored rice or color powder
placed in one's forehead as a blessing from God). The tiny yellow leaves are called Jamara in Nepali. The first
nine days of Dashain are called NavaRatri. Nava
means nine and Ratri means Night. Some also call
Dashain as NavaRatri. So Ghatas Thapana is the first day in Dashain that triggers the beginning of the festival, it is this day which tells us that Dashain has just begun!
7th Dashain Day: This day is known as Fulpati. On this
day, Jamara (tiny yellow sprouts of crops such as barley) for Royal families carried from their ancestral
Royal Gorkha palace arrives at Rani
Pokhari Kathmandu and in the evening they are taken to Royal
Palace along with a huge parade. For more on how Jamaras are made see the 1st day of Dashain above
8th Dashain Day : Maha (Big) Asthami (Eight). Here is a
Big Eight Day of Dashain full of sacrifices of blood to Durga
and Kali Goddess. The night of this day is called Kal Ratri,
the night is dark and the blood thirsty Kali Goddess along
with Durga receive huge sacrifices in
Kathmandu and in many parts of Nepal. In the capital, the most bloody
animal sacrifices in this dark night takes place at the Basantapur
9th Dashain Day : This is the Nawami (Ninth) day, a day before the real dashain.
The ninth day is called 'Nawami'. The Taleju temple at
Hanuman Dhoka is opened for the public only once a year on
this day. Thousands of people go and pay their respect to the
goddess day. Temples of mother goddess are filled with people
from dawn till dusk. On this day the official military
sacrifices are held in the 'Kot' courtyard at Hanuman Dhoka.
The government allows foreigners to witness this function so
hundreds of tourists and diplomats eagerly gather here.
Animals mostly black buffaloes are slaughtered by hundreds to
honor Durga the goddess of victory and might and to seek her
blessing. Military bands play war tunes, guns boom and
officers with beautifully decorated medals in full uniform
stand there. When the function ends the courtyard is filled
ankle deep with blood. On this very day the god Vishwas
Karma, the God of creativity is also worshiped. All
factories, vehicles, any machinery instruments and anything
from which we make a living are worshiped. We also give
sacrifices to all moving machinery like cars, airplanes,
trucks etc. to get the blessing from goddess Durga for
protection for vehicles and their occupants against accidents
during the year. The entire day is colorful.
This year, Nawami and Vijaya Dashain Day falls on the same day.
10th Dashain Day - Vijaya Dashain: The tenth day is the 'Dashami'. On this
day we take tika and jamara from our elders and receive their
blessing. We visit our elders in their home and get tika from
them while our younger ones come to our home to receive
blessing from us. The importance of Dasain also lies in the
fact that on this day family members from far off and distant
relatives come for a visit as well as to receive tika from
the head of the family. This function continues for four
days. His Majesty also receives tika from the royal priests
and then gives on tika to his loyal subjects. Thousands of
loyal Nepalese people as well as foreigners also receive tika
from His Majesty the King as this is said to be auspicious.
After four days of rushing around and meeting your relatives
Dashain ends on the full moon day, the fifteenth day. In the
last day people stay at home and rest. The full moon day is
also called 'Kojagrata' meaning 'who is awake'. The Hindu
goddess of wealth Laxmi is worshiped. On this day the
goddess Laxmi is given an invitation to visit each and
everyone. After Dashain the nation settles back to normal. After
receiving the blessing of goddess Durga, people are ready to
work and acquire virtue, power and wealth. Dashain thus is
not only the longest festival but also the most anticipated
one among all the festivals of Nepal.
Dashain Holidays for 2008 ?
Dashain and Nepalese Away from Home
Dashain isn't just celebrated in Nepal - but even more so for the Nepalese who are far far away from home. Look no further than your own state. You might find some, gathering in a spot and celebrating and sharing meals on the day or evening; with whatever little time they might have on hand. Bigger the gathering the bigger the scale - starting with dance, music and dinner. Here are some web resources, open and enjoy! [all links open in a new window ]
Dashain Festival Related pictures on the net :
Dashain Greeting Cards :
- Tihar Festival - Offers in-depth information on the second biggest festival of this country
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