Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas in western countries or some feasts of festivities we celebrate, the actual meaning of Celebrations becomes complete when all families get together under a single roof and spend time together following the festive mood. Nepal is a multi-diversified country accompanied by hundreds of festivities every year. When the season of monsoon comes to the ending phase, the festival of togetherness begins from the Sukla Pakchya of the lunar calendar of bright moon fortnight and ends in the full moon day of Purnima that usually falls between September and October of the Gregorian calendar year. And the famous festival we all are familiar with is often called with different names such as Dashain, Vijaya Dashami, Navaratri or Dussehra as well.
We have been taught and made aware that Dashain is the festival for the celebration of victory over evil. The tale that dates back thousands of years states that Goddess Durga defeated the buffalo-headed evil king, Mahisasura who then created havoc and dishevelment in Triloka (the worlds of earth, heaven, and hell). A staunch worshipper of Lord Brahma did years of penance facing several challenges and granted the wish of “Immorality” but after the fulfillment of his wish, Mahisasura began to attack the three Lokas and got victory due to the boon of Lord Brahma but an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, and combination of triple powers of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, Durga was catalyzed. When the war raged between Durga and Mahisasura, the demon king kept changing his shape into different animals and on the tenth day, Goddess Durga was able to stab him with her trident when he finally transformed into a buffalo. And the day was called Vijaya Dashami. This festival symbolizes the invincible power of women as well.
Another tale states that on the day of Vijaya Dashami, King Rama of Ayodhya Nagari defeated then the Lankeswor Maharaja Raavana by beheading him who kidnapped his beloved wife and created shambles in the kingdom. He was able to secure his wife Sita and returned to his kingdom after 14 years of jungle exile.
There is also another tale that depicts that on the day of Vijaya Dashami, great Emperor Ashoka of India gave up his cruel and violent behavior and took a vow to spread Buddhism all over the world.
Whatever the myths are, this festival is celebrated by the Hindus and several other religious and ethnic groups that represent unity and togetherness. And the most important thing is the festival is remarked as the festival of Victory over Evil.
Ghatasthapana marks the beginning of the Dashain festival where a special kind of flower called Jamara is to be planted in the sacred room of the home with the holy Kalash, sand, and barley seeds. Jamara is taken out for receiving Tika on the day of Bijaya Dashami. On day 7 of Phulpati, the Brahmins carry Royal Kalasha, holy Jamara, banana stalks, and sugarcane tied with red pieces of cloth from Gorkha to Kathmandu. To witness the Phulpati parade near the Royal Palace of Hanumandhoka, hundreds of people gather together.
On the 8th day of Mahaastami, various animal sacrifices are practiced to offer devotion to the Gods and Goddesses. In the Newar community, Dashain is often celebrated as Mohani Nakha where various tools and books are kept and worshipped in a sacred room along with Black Tika and ginger and sugarcane that depict the deep meaning of giving respect to one’s work. In Nakabahil and Patan Durbar Square of Lalitpur, Astamatrika Dance is performed in the period of this festival encompassing the eight Goddesses which are said to be the protectors of Nepalamandala a.k.a. Kathmandu valley along with other 5 Gods whereas, in Khokana, Dashain is not celebrated as others do but there is celebrated Sikali Jatra.
On the 9th day of Mahanawami, all the three temples of Taleju Bhawani of Patan, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur are opened for the general public where thousands of pilgrims come to visit. On this day, various tools and vehicles are also worshipped through many offerings.
On the 10th day of Vijaya Dashami, elders offer Tika to all the family members along with Jamara and Dakshina. All families gather together, receive Tika, and have a grand feast. The tools and books that were kept in the room, are also provided each to a family member with the blessings of more progress in life.
The rest of the days till Kojagrat Purnima are celebrated by the visits to the relatives’ home for receiving Tika and a grand feast.
The very peculiar nine days of Navaratri are dedicated to each incarnation of Goddess Parvati which is also the nine forms of Goddess Durga.
1st Day- Shailputri
2nd Day- Brahmachari
3rd Day- Chandraghanta
4th Day- Kushmanda
5th Day- Skandamata
6th Day- Katyayani
7th Day- Kaalratri
8th Day- Mahagauri
9th Day- Siddhidatri
Similarly, in Kathmandu valley, the following Goddesses are worshipped on each day:
1st Day- Brahmayani
2nd Day- Maheshwari
3rd Day- Bhagawati
4th Day- Bhadrakali
5th Day- Barahi
6th Day- Indrayani
7th Day- Mahakali
8th Day- Mahalaxmi
9th Day- Tripurasundari
In nutshell, the most prominent days are celebrated with various rituals and worshipping the mighty Goddesses of all the times which symbolize women's power and victory over iniquity.
All the government and private institutions are closed in the period of Dashain as national holidays are declared on the days of Dashain. Malashree Dhun is played during Dashain which is one of the most melodious and mellifluous music of Nepalese culture. Dashain is one of the special and grandest festivals amongst all other festivals because of:
Dashain is the time when all the members of the family get together. Family members return from foreign countries to celebrate Dashain. This is the festival where reunion must be done to receive Tika and blessings from the elders and relatives.
Dashain is that time when the businesses are fostered which means when there utters a word Dashain, it depicts new clothes, new shoes, and brand new. At this time, there are many stock clearance and many offers related to all the things due to the grand festive season.
The feasts are organized from the 7th day until the last day of Dashain. During this time, every delicacy of meat and other food items are prepared and consumed.
When it’s the time for playing cards, there is no more perfect time to play than Dashain time. All the relatives and family members gather together and indulge in earning pennies through playing cards.
Especially in the villages and open areas, long and tall bamboo swings are made which are only the specialty of the Dashain festival. People compete with each other about the tall heights they can go as far while swinging.
Even before the beginning of Dashain, people tend to fly the kites and it denotes that Dashain is coming. The sky is embellished with flying kites and it is very fun to fly the kites with colleagues and family.
Not only does Dashain carry significant religious importance but it reunites the family. There may be norms and rituals different from each other per religion and caste but the main motive of the festival is to unite and celebrate together the victory of good over evil. We should celebrate every festival with joy and happiness ignoring the negativity and false things. So, what’s your new plan in this Dashain?