During month of Ashwin-Kartik(September-October) all Nepalese people over the globe celebrate one of the most auspicious and biggest festival of the year Dashain. Dashain is celebrated for fifteen days .
However, first, seventh, eighth, ninth and the tenth are the most important days.It is the longest and the most significant festival in Nepali Calender. Dashain is also celebrated in Bhutan and some North-Eastern states of India. In Nepal, Dashain is not only a religious festival but also a nation holiday. Dashain is also known as Bada Dashain, Dashera and Vijaya Dashami.
There are so many stories behind Dashain, basically it symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Dashain reminds us every year that the evil may be strong for a time; the truth and good will always prevail over it. In preparation for Dashain every home is cleansed and beautifully decorated, painted as an invitation to the mother goddess, so that she may visit and bless the house with good fortune. During this time the reunion of distant and nearby relatives occur in every household. The market is filled with shoppers seeking new clothing, gifts, luxuries and enormous supplies of temple offering for the gods, as well as foodstuffs for the family feasting. Thousands of sheep, goats, ducks, chicken and water buffalo are prepared for the great slaughter. All types of organizations are closed for ten to fifteen days. From the poor to the rich, all enjoy the festive mood. Anywhere you go the aroma of ‘Vijaya Dashami’ is found.
People all across the country worship Durga Bhawani and visit temples. It is called Nauratha visits. People wake up early in the morning and go to temples of Devi Durga. People perform musical programs and Ramlila in Madhesh and Terai region of Nepal. Nepal has its own music which symbolizes Dashain. The music is called Mal Shree Dhun. The importance of Dashain 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, jamara and blessing from the head of the family. This function continues for four days. 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.
Following are the important days of Dashain:
Day 1 – Ghatasthapana
Day 7 – Phulpati
Day 8 – Maha Ashtami or Durga Ashtami
Day 9 – Maha Navami or Durga Navami
Day 10 – Vijaya Dashami or Bijaya Dashami
Day 15 – Kojagrat Purnima
There are different forms of celebrating Dashain:
- Flying Kites: As Dashain comes near, kite flying becomes more and more common. Flying kites have been a very important part of celebrating Dashain in the country, as it is considered to be one way of reminding god not to send rain anymore.
- Playing Cards: Playing cards is another way of celebrating Dashain. While children be busy flying kites during Dashain, the older members of the family pass their time by getting together and playing cards with each other for money and fun.
- Shopping: Buying new clothes is an important part of the festival
- Ping (Bamboo Swing): Bamboo swings are constructed in many parts of the country as a way of celebration. Dashain swings are called ‘ping’ in Nepali. They present the best of local culture, tradition, community spirit and fun. These swings are constructed by community members with traditional methods which use ropes made from a tough grass, bamboo sticks and wood, etc. The swings are normally constructed a week before Ghatasthapana and dismantled only after the festival of Tihar(Deepawali) which comes after Dashain. Playing Swing is common among children.
The only thing i don’t like about Dashain is slaughtering of animals in name of god. It has been considered an important ritual since it is believed that the goddesses are appeased by such sacrifices. Almost all the temples, especially the Durga and Kali temples, are offered with thousands of sacrifices. Asthami and Navami are the days when the sacrifices reach a peak.