Nepal’s Biggest Festival Season: Celebrating Dashain!

The 15-day Dashain festival falls in the new moon and continues until the full moon in the Hindu month of Ashvin
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Nepal’s Biggest Festival Season: Celebrating Dashain!

Dashain, the major festival part of Nepal’s Biggest Festival Season, is Nepal’s most auspicious and the longest festival celebrated by Nepalese across the world.

Observed as a celebration of the victory of good over evil,  the 15-day Dashain festival falls in the new moon and continues until the full moon in the Hindu month of Ashvin.

As per the Gregorian calendar, Dashain usually falls in the month of September or October and is the time when many Nepalese expatriates return to Nepal to observe the festival in their homeland. During Dashain, Nepal Government offices and many businesses remain closed for 7 days, making it easier for tourists to experience their joy in the country.

A 15-day Dashain

As the longest annual festival of Nepal, Dashain or Navaratri Parba or Bada Dashain marks the start of Nepal’s biggest festival season.

Marking the beginning of this Navaratri festival, devotees today worship Goddess Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati at the Dashain Ghar.

During Navaratri, thousands of devotees visit various shrines of Goddess Durga including Shobha Bhagawati, Naxal Bhagawati, Guheswori, Maitidevi, Bhadrakali, Sankata, among others across the country. Ghatasthapana, Fulpati, Maha Ashtami, Maha Nawami and Vijayadashami form the key events of nine-night Navaratri and for the entire festival.

    • Ghatasthapana – Ghatasthapana, which falls on Aswin Shukla Pratipada (the first day of the bright half of the lunar calendar in the month of Aswin), marks the beginning of Dashain. As part of this ritual, devotees make a holy pot called Kalash, which will last until the end and is key to the entire festival.On this day, Diyo, Kalash and Lord Ganesh are worshipped as per the Vedic tradition. Apart from that, maize and barley seeds are also sown in a jar with soil and cow dung for successful germination of Jamara (barley sprouts).
    • Fulpati – On the Fulpati day, which falls on seventh day of the festival, the Kalash, which is filled with holy water, banana stalks, jamara, sugar cane and tied with red cloth, is carried by Brahmans on a decorated palanquin under a gold-tipped and embroidered umbrella.
    • Maha Ashtami – The worship of Goddess Durga begins from the first day of the festival and turns intense on the Maha Ashtami day, wherein devotees offer sacrifices to Goddess Durga and Kali. The night of this day is called ‘Kal Ratri’, the dark night.
    • Maha Nawami – Dashain is symbolized by the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahisasura. After nine days of fierce battle (representing Navaratri) with the demon, the Goddess finally kills Mahisasura on the Maha Nawami day. So, on this day, devotees offer slaughtered buffaloes as a sacrifice to the Goddess in the honor of her victory.
    • Vijaya Dashami – Vijaya Dashami is the last major event of Dashain that continues for four consecutive days including the festival ending. This celebration marks the victory of good (Goddess Durga) over evil (demon). As a symbolism of nine-day intense battle between the Goddess and demon Mahisasura, devotees celebrate nine forms of Goddess on all the nine days of Navaratri.

 
The festival is also celebrated in remembrance of Lord Rama’s grand victory over demon-king Raavana. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight and ends on the Full Moon Day.

Celebrations in a Nutshell
On this auspicious day, people clean their homes and decorate them ornately as a gesture of invoking the divine mother to bless the family with fortune. Family members and relatives in different regions gather together for enjoying the reunion with their loved ones. Elders in the family mark the foreheads of the others with Tika, a combination of rice, red vermillion and yoghurt. Buying and wearing new clothes, flying kites, playing cards and playing on the swings and ferris wheels are some of the various customs indulged by kids and adults alike during this period.

Though Dashain is a very traditional Hindu festival, it is also observed by many Buddhists and people of other faiths. In comparative terms, Dashain festival is as significant to Nepalese as Christmas is to Westerners.

This period is also the peak tourist season, with clear skies and mild temperatures. By planning your trip to Nepal early, you can experience the great Nepalese culture and festivities with the local population.

Preparations on a Grand Scale
The 15 day-long Dashain is celebrated grandly across the country every year and a large number of Nepalese travel home during the festival time.

According to the transport department estimates, around 2-3 million people are expected to leave the Kathmandu Valley for the festival, annually. The Government has also planned big for the celebrations and announced Dashain receptions across the constituencies.

The festival welcomes high demand for animals such as goats and buffaloes that are slaughtered in huge numbers during the festival, as an offering to the goddess.

October 10, 2018 |

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