You are on page 1of 3

DASHAIN: The Biggest Festival of Nepal

- SUBEDI, Thakur Prasad

Nepal is a small and beautiful country located in South Asia that lies between two big countries, India and China. It is a landlocked country blessed with natural beauties. Since more than 80% of the land is covered by hills and mountains, Nepal has been recognized as the Kingdom of Himalayas throughout the world. This is the country, where Lord Buddha, the symbol of peace, was born. Adorned with the cap of Mount Everest, the highest peak of the world, Nepal is spreading the message “Never Ending Peace And Love” to the world. Moreover, it is a country of cultural diversity, where more than four dozens of festivals are celebrated each year. Unity in the diversity is the distinctiveness of Nepalese society. Since it is the only official Hindu Kingdom in the world, bulks of festivals in Nepal are associated with the Hindu religion. Except for the fixed festivals, the dates for almost all religious festivals are set each year by astrologers following the lunar calendar. Almost all events are celebrated with great enthusiasm today in the same manner as it used to be hundreds years ago. Among all, Dashain is the biggest, most distinguished, and the most auspicious religious festival of Nepal. It is usually celebrated in the month of October, though sometimes it takes place in September due to some astrological reasons. All Nepalese, regardless of caste or ethnicity, celebrate the festival enthusiastically during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Performing numerous Pujas (acts of worshipping to the gods and goddesses), people pay homage to goddess Durga in all her manifestations. All goddesses, who were originated from the goddess Durga, are known as Devis, each with different attributes and supremacies. Therefore, Durga is often called as the mother goddess. A ritual of holy bathing takes place during the worship, where a large number of black animals are sacrificed to make Her happy. It is believed that if she is properly worshiped, good fortunes will come; and if angered, misfortunes will follow. Dashain glorifies the triumph of good over the evil; the victory of gods over the demons. The main celebration is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the demon Mahisasur, an atrocious water buffalo. The early nine days, called ‘Navaratri,’ stand for the fierce battle between Mahisasur and the goddess, Durga. The demon was slain on the tenth day called ‘Vijaya Dashami,’ and the rest of the five days represent the celebration of the victory with the blessing of Durga. Another frequently cited victory story relates lord Ram, the son of Dasharath, slaughtering Ravana, the monstrous king of demons. It is believed that Ram was successful in the battle only when Durga was evoked.

The biggest festival of the year kicks off in every home with great preparation. Almost all houses are painted and beautifully decorated to provoke the mother goddess because people believe that Durga may stop over and bless the house with good fortune if the house is cleansed and is holy. During this ceremony there occurs reunion of far-off and close-by relatives in every house. Far and wide, people appear in haste. The markets are packed with shoppers seeking for new clothes, gifts, foodstuffs, and enormous supplies of temple offerings. Everywhere in villages and towns one can witness the slaughtering of animals and sense the aroma of Vijaya Dashami. The first day of Navaratri is called ‘Ghatasthapana’, which means ‘establishing a pot.’ On this day, the ‘Kalash,’ a vessel symbolizing goddess, is positioned in the holy room called ‘Dashain Ghar.’ The Kalash is filled with holy water and covered with cow dung on to which seeds are sown. This ceremony is performed at a certain auspicious moment determined by the Brahmins. The priest intones a greeting, appealing Durga to consecrate the vessel with her presence. The Kalash and the sand are sprinkled with holy water everyday and are protected from direct sunlight to make it yellow in color. The scattered seeds grow up into six-inches-long yellow grass on the tenth day. This sacred grass is called 'Jamara,' which is bestowed by the elders at the top of the heads of younger people on Dashain Day. The Jamara is adopted as a token of Goddess Durga’s presence as well as the blessing of elders’. The days elapse so quickly performing similar holy rites and Pujas. The seventh day is called ‘Fulpati’, when the Jamara that has to be used by the royal family is brought from Gorkha, the ancestral royal house of Shah Dynasty. The eighth day and night are called ‘Maha Asthami’ and ‘Kalratri’ respectively. The excitement of reverence and the sacrifice of animals to Durga and Kali, one of the manifestations of goddess Durga, increase dramatically. The holy bathing continues till the sun sets and the feasts are held in every homes with great enthusiasm. The next day is ‘Nawami,’ and only on this day, once a year, the Taleju temple in Kathmandu is open to the public. On this very day, people pay homage to God of creativity, Vishwokarma. During the day, all factories, vehicles, and other machinery instruments made of Iron are worshiped for the protection against any mischievous incidents through out the year. The morning of the tenth day sparks in the most colorful way. The day is known as 'Dashami,' the most waited day of the year. On this day, people acquire Tika and Jamara from their elders and receive their blessings. Generally, younger people visit their elders’ home to obtain Tika (made by mixing of rice, yoghurt and red color) and Jamara. On the Dashain day, the elders put Tika on the brow and Jamara is kept by the side of the ears. The significance of Dashain can be grasped in the sense that members and

relatives of a family of far-flung make their visit for this day to their head of the family and obtain Tika and blessings. Besides this, on this day, even an ordinary public can be given Tika from His Majesty the King. As Hindu mythology considers King as the incarnation of lord Vishnu, adopting Tika from him is believed to be auspicious. After a non-stop of rushing to the relatives and neighbors, the greatest festival ends on the full moon fifteenth day. This day is called 'Kojagrata', which literally means 'who is awake'. On this day, the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, is worshipped in every house. From the time when the festival is over, every thing patches up to normal condition. After a day’s rest and filled with the blessing of Durga, everybody looks so eager to exert and gain virtue, supremacy, and affluence. Even Dashain has its root in Hindu traditions, people from various religious and cultural backgrounds gather and celebrate the festival together. Dashain is the most awaited festival in Nepal. Almost all relatives from far and offs return back to their homes to receive Tika and Jamara from their elders as blessings. No matter whether it is in a royal place or in a peasant’s house, Dashain is celebrated equally. It helps bring the enemies together and strives to weave a garland of friendship. This is why, Dashain is not only considered as the biggest and the longest festival but also as the most widely celebrated festival in Nepal.