Dashain – the largest festival of the country.
Learn about Dashain:
- About Dashain – about the festival
- What does Dashain mean to Nepalese? – Dashain in Bullet Points
- Dashain Days – What’s done on each day of Dashain ?
- Buy Khasi or Boka for your family and friends – online sites sell Khasi and Boka for your loved ones.
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 and celebrate the free time with friends and family 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 Festival
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 and Offering to 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 Hanuman Dhoka
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 days are colorful.
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.