Dashain Festival in Nepal
Dashain also known as Badadashain, is regarded with various other names such as Dussehra and Navaratri. Dashain is the most important festival celebrated among Hindus of Nepal, India, Bhutan and Myanmar. However, Nepali people celebrate differently than other.
The festival falls in September or October, starting from the shukla paksha (bright lunar fortnight) of the month of Ashwin and ending on Purnima, the full moon. Celebrated for 15 long days, dashain is longest and most auspicious festival. Dashain festival is celebrated to honor the victory of goddess durga over the demon Mahisassur. Goddess Durga, symbolizing boldness and heroism, is worshipped and offered sacrifices to make sure of the devotees’ progress and prosperity. The first nine days of Dashain is dedicated to the Goddess Durga for manifestations, known as Navaratri.
Out of nine nights of Navaratri, the first three nights are dedicated to different incarnation of Durga as the Mahakali, the goddess of action and energy; as Kumari, a young virgin girl; as Parvati, wife and a mother, and as Kali, the angry woman. The following three days are to worship Mahalaxmi, the goddess of wealth, abundance and happiness. The final three days of Navaratri is devoted to Mahasaraswati, the goddess of knowledge.
There are varied mythological stories related to this festival. However, every story has the same ideology of the victory of gods over demons or also victory of good over evil. It is believed that during the time of Navaratri, the battle between Durga and Mahissasur was on going and on the tenth day goddess finally got victory over the demon. Story has it, all the god had become powerless in comparison to Mahissasur so they had to give their divine powers to form a new goddess. Resulting to one of the popular incarnation of Durga, Mahishasuramardini. The name Mahishasuramardini literally means “the killer of Mahisshasur”. The tenth day of Dashain, Dashami is celebrated for triumph of goddess over the demon. And for other Hindus, this festival symbolizes the victory of Ram over Ravan as recounted in the Ramayana.
Ceremonies for fifteen Days
First day of Dashain is known as Ghatasthapana. The word Ghata means a Kalash (metal pot), which symbolises goddess Durga and sthapana means establishment. The most senior person of the family, normally male, performs rituals. Kalash is filled with cow dung, sand, barley seeds, corn seeds and decorated with flowers, red and yellow powder. The Kalash then is kept on the most sacred room of the house. Kalash must be protected from the sunlight so one must water the pot before sunrise and after sunset throughout the Navaratri. Then in the tenth day, the seeds will grow up to five or six inches into a long yellow grass, which is a holy grass and called as jamara.
Seventh day is known as Phulpati. Phulpati means holy flowers and plants. Legend divulge bringing Phulpati brings all the nine goddesses to your home. All nine plants representing the goddess and every goddess represents health, wealth, and prosperity. Bringing Phulpati to home is equivalent of health, wealth and prosperity making way to your home. The Brahmins carry royal Kalash, holy Jamara, banana stalks and sugar cane tied with red cloth from Gorkha to Kathmandu (169km). It often takes them 3 days to bring Phulpati from Gorkha Royal Palace. Hundreds of Government officials in their national clothing await the arrival of phulpati along the route and join the parade to Hanuman Dhoka, where phulpati (including the jamara) is placed in the royal Dashain ghar.
Eighth Day is called Maha-Asthami. This day is dedicated to the blood thirsty embodiment of Goddess Durga, Kali. The night of asthami is known as Kal Ratri (Black Night), and at midnight 54 buffaloes and 54 goats are ceremoniously sacrificed in observance of these rites. After the offering of the blood, the meat is taken home and cooked as “prasad” (food blessed by divinity), and is offered in tiny leaf plates called tapari to the household gods before family members get to enjoy them. Eating this food is thought to be auspicious.
Ninth day is called Maha Nwami, last day of Navaratri. The celebration has reached up to peak now. The state offers sacrifices of buffaloes under gunfire salutes to goddess durga. This day is also known as the demon-hunting day because members of the defeated demon army try to spare their life by hiding in the bodies of animals and poultry. God of creation, Lord Vishwakarma is also worshipped on this day. Every artisans, traders, craftsmen worships the vehicle, machines, tools and equipments they use. It is believed that worshipping vehicles on this day protects from machinery disaster in the coming year.
The tenth and most special day of this festival is known as Vijaya Dashami. In this day, elder member of the family put tika, mixture of rice, yogurt, sugar and vermilion is put on the forehead with jamara. Along with jamara and tika, elders also give blessings and you Dakshina (money). Red tika represents the blood that ties one’s family. Relatives living in abroad also make way to their home in this festival. All members of a family celebrate this festival together.
The final and last day of Dashain is called Kojagrat Purnima. This day falls on the full moon day. Goddess laxmi, who is a goddess of wealth is believed to visit earth and bless the ones who are awake with abundance wealth and prosperity.
Although Dashain is religiously conspicuous, there are other forms of celebrations as well. Dashain is also related with buying new clothes, eating delicious foods, playing games and get together with family members. The youngsters of the family fly kites in the sky. Flying kites in the time of Dashain is a message to Lord Indra, Hindu god of rainfall not to send rain to the Earth anymore. Senior members of the family engage themselves in gambling, and females engage themselves in the kitchen, cooking delicacies.
The country has best weather at the time of Dashain. We fell different kind of vibe in the air when Dashain is near. The sky is clear, sun shines brightly, flowers starts blooming and trees starts looking greener. Dashain brings happiness in every household, and fills house member’s happiness.