Dashain is the 15-day-long national festival of Nepal. It is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese people throughout the globe. It is also celebrated by many Hindus elsewhere. It is the longest and most anticipated festival in Nepal. The festival falls in September or October, starting from the shukla paksha (bright lunar fortnight) of the month of Ashvin and ending on Purnima, the full moon. Among the fifteen days on which it is celebrated, the most important days are the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and the tenth. Dashain is celebrated by the whole country for the goddess Durga’s victory over the demon Mahishasura. In addition to worship the Goddess Durga, Nepalis will hold celebrations for the fertility of the land and a year of good harvest. Meanwhile, Dashain has also emphasized the importance of family reunion, which is helpful to ease social contradictions. All the government agencies, educational institutions and other public sectors will be closed down during this festival period.
Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the kingdom as the divine mother goddess.
Some of the activities throughout Dashain are having fiesta-style parties, enjoying home-cooked meals and flying kites, to represent freedom. The festival usually ties in with the end of the Monsoon season, and some natives believe flying kites will communicate to God to end the rainfall season! People sacrifice a lot of animals in this festival, most of which are the goats, sheep, chicken or buffaloes. The trend of sacrificing animals however, is changing towards fruits and vegetables, as the animals slaughter is nowhere mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and the animal right activists strongly condemn it. Some of they key days during Dashain are:
Day 01: Ghatasthapana, sowing holy Jamara:
Ghatasthapana (sowing Jamara) coincides with the first day of Dasain Festival. People usually use a kalash to
symbolize the Goddess Durgar. On this day, the Kalash is filled with holy water, then mixed with barley seeds and cow dung, finally delivered to the priest to pray for the blessings of the Goddess Durgar.
After the ceremony, the Kalash will be placed in the room. Traditionally, outsiders and women are not allowed to enter. Men will worship the Kalash twice a day, one time in the morning and another at night. However, with the development of society, women also have the right to worship now. Kalash is protected from direct sunlight and carefully watered every day. Then the seeds begin to sprout. Several days later, five or six inches long yellow grass would thrive in the Kalash.
Day 7: Fulpati, presenting sacred flowers
Fulpati (sacred flowers) is the grand celebration on seventh day of Dashain Festival. On this day, the Brahmins would carry royal kalasha, holy jamara, banana stalks and sugar cane tied with red cloth from Gorkha to Kathmandu. It often takes them three days to complete this 169-kilometer-long trekking. Hundreds of government officials would gather together in traditional dresses and witness the fulpati parade with the king. After 2008, the royal family was overthrown and the ancient tradition has been changed. Now, the president of Nepal has replaced the king to hold the ceremony.
Day 8: Maha Asthami, slaughtering the livestock
The eighth day is a bloody day in Dashain Festival. It is held for Kali, the most horrible manifestation of the Goddess Durgar. On this day, scores of livestock in temples of Nepal will be slaughtered to appease the goddess. This night is also known as “Black Night”. When the midnight comes, people will cut off the heads of 8 buffaloes and 108 goats at the courtyards near Durbar Square. After being dedicated to the Goddess, those meat would be brought home and called as “Prasad”. And it’s said that eating Prasad will bring good luck.
Day 9: Maha Navami, visiting Taleju Temple
The ninth day is known as Maha Navami, during which all the celebrations and ceremonies will reach the peak. On this day, the Nepalese army sacrifice the buffaloes for the official worship and pray to Durga for the invincible courage. Nepalis slaughter their livestock to sacrifice their own cars or motorcycle and the airlines also have blood sprinkled on the aircraft tires, hoping to avoid traffic accidents in the coming year. The Taleju Temples in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur will be open to the public only on this day of year. You’ll see numerous people line up to visit Taleju Temple and beg for Goddess’ blessings. Every household will eat goat meat on this night.
Day 10: Vijaya Dashami, receiving Tika from the elder relatives
Vijaya Dashami is the great time for family reunion. On this day, relatives and friends will exchange greeting cards and gifts with each other. Parents will place a Tika (red cinnabar dot) on the child’s forehead. When the night falls, you’ll have the chance to observe splendid parades and masked dances in the Kathmandu valley.
Day 15: Kojagrata Purnima, worshiping the goddess of wealth and luck
Kojagrata Purnima, the full moon day, masks the ending of Dashain Festival. Literally, Kojagrata means “who is awake”. On this day, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and luck, will come to earth and bless the people who didn’t sleep all night. Therefore, it has become an excuse for Nepalese people to gamble overnight.
How Peoples are Celebrations Dashain Festival
Tourists can experience Nepal religious culture and traditional customs by attending the various kinds of celebrations, like Dashain flying kites, Dashain cards, etc.
Dashain flying kites
Kite-flying is regarded as an important way to remind the gods not to rain anymore. During Dashain Festival, you’ll see people of all ages flying kites everywhere. Under the cozy sunshine, the pure blue sky is packed with colorful kites of different sizes and shapes. The whole valley is immersed in cheerful laughter and happiness.
Playing cards in Dashain
Card-playing is another way to spend Dasain Festival. The family members would get together and play cards while joking with each other.
Purchasing and buying new clothes
Shopping and buying new clothes is a key part of Dashain Festival. As many people live in rural areas, most of them would only purchase goods and new clothes in Dashain Nepali Holidays. During this period, almost all of the country’s stores will offer festive discounts, which makes shopping more attractive.
Playing on the swings and ferris wheels
Different types of exhibitions and festivities will also be held during Nepal’s biggest festival. Ferris wheels and traditional swings will be organized in small bazaars to entertainment the masses. And you’ll come across commercial exhibitions in the cities.