Ramailo Dashain Aayo — Here comes the excitement of Dashain festival
Nepal is known to be the land of Himalayas all over the world; however, she is also a country with full of cultural diversity. The lifestyle of Nepalese people is deeply guided by the syncretic ethics, beliefs and values of the Hinduism and Buddhism on their own typical style and diffrent ethnical practices.
Out of many festivals, the most important and auspicious festival to all the Nepalese people is “Dashain” or “Vijaya Dashami”, which basically falls in September or October every year. Dashain is also called Dashara which means “Take away all the ill fates and fortunes”. It falls in perfect autumn time, just after the summer monsoon season giving a wonderful feeling of moderate temperature under a clear blue sky.
Dashain festival is symbolized as the victory of good over evil. Both Hindus and Buddhist people celebrate this festival as it holds distinct significance to every Nepalese. It is the longest festival and also the National Festival of Nepal celebrated for 15 days where the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth holds most importance.
Legend about Dashain
In Hindu mythology, there was a demon named Mahisasura who was very powerful and attempt to rule heaven of gods. He has such a strength that even gods seems powerless in front of him, hence the Goddess Durga (as a manifestation of Parvati) fight against the terror of demon and killed him. It is believed that the war went for nine days “Navaratri” and finally Durga defeated the demon and achieved victory on the tenth day, celebrated as the triumph of good over evil .
As per another Hindu mythology Ramayana, this festival also symbolizes the victory of Lord Ram (seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu) over Ravan (King of Lanka). The war started when Ravan kidnaps Sita, wife of Lord Ram using his magical tricks and took her to Lanka. The tenth day is symbolized as the victorious day of good over bad.
Major Days of Dashain
Ghatasthapana is the first day of Dashain and also the first day of the Navaratri (as the war between the Goddess Durga and demon Mahisasura started). It begins with people sowing seeds which grow as yellow grass (named as Jamara) and used alongside Tika (red patch mixed with rice grain, yogurt and vermilion) on the 10th day of the festival while receiving blessings from elders and parents.
Fulpati is the seventh day of Dashain. Fulpati literally means “phool” for flowers and “pati” for leaves and plants. It’s time to clean houses and decorate them with colors and flowers. As per the tradition, an assorted nine types of flowers and plants are known as “Navapatriva” are brought into the worship room (Pooja Ghar). These nine items of Navapatriva represents the manifestation of nine Hindu Gods and Goddess. And Saraswati — Goddess of Art, Knowledge, Music Wisdom and Learning Saraswati is also worshiped on this very day.
Items In Nepali — Known In English As — Manifestation of Deity
Kera.ko Pat — Banana Plant — Goddess Brahmande
Darim — Pomegranate Fruit — Goddess Rakta Dantika
Dhan.ko Bala — Paddy Stalk — Goddess Lakshmi
Haledo — Turmeric Plant — Goddess Durga
Aduwa/Manabriksha — Ginger Plant — Goddess Kalika
Kachuki/Lapsi — Hog Plum Fruit — Goddess of Power
Belpatra — Wood Apple Fruit — God Bishnu and Shiva
Ashok — Saraca Asoca Plant — Goddess Shokaha
Jayanti — Sesbania Sesban Plant — God Kartikeya
Ashtami is the eighth day of Dashain. On this day, offerings and sacrifice of animals like goats, buffaloes, ducks, chickens are done to please blood thirsty Goddess Mahakali ( a form of Goddess Parvati). These sacrificed animals are later feasted by family members and relatives as it is believed food believed by divinity after offering blood to the Goddess. And the people who do not sacrifice animals offers fruits instead of blood to deities. It is also the day to worship the machines, vehicles, and weapons.
Navami is the ninth day of the festival and also the last day of “Navaratri”. These first nine days of Dashain is dedicated to the manifestations of three prime Goddess of Hinduism — Parvati, Laxmi and Saraswati — as goddess of energy, purity, wealth, bliss, and knowledge — although it is also believed that the whole festival is utterly dedicated to Goddess Durga (a form of Parvati) as collective divine strength of all the deities in one single form to fight against the demon Mahisasura when he almost won the war with his strength. This day was the last day of the battle and known as the demon-hunting day as defeated demons tried to save themselves hiding under the skin of animals. On this day, people also visit Taleju Bhawani temple.
Vijaya Dashami is the tenth day and the major important day of the festival. It is the day of victory of good over bad and gods over demons. As per two different stories, it is the day when demon Mahisasura was killed by Goddess Mahisasura Mardini (a name for the manifestation of Durga) and Ravan (King of Lanka) is slain by Lord Ram to rescue his wife.
On this day, all elders put a tika (red patch mixed with rice grain, yogurt and vermilion) on the forehead with Jamara to juniors and bless them with good fortunes and happiness in future. They also offer gifts of money (known as Dakshina) along with such blessings. The day continues with worshipping Durga, sharing laughter and delicious foods with family and relatives while wearing a new set of clothes. This continues to next five days till full moon and during this time, people visit their relatives exchanging gifts and blessing. On the full moon day (known as Purnima), the festival ends.
How do Nepalese celebrate Dashain Festival?
Most of the houses are cleaned, renovated, painted and decorated.
People reach out to their home to see their family and friends, take blessings from the elders and share a good time with positive thoughts, fun and laughter. Women dressed in red cooks delicious meals for everyone and bring sweets and fruits. Drinking local or important wine can also be seen.
Many people engaged themselves playing cards with relatives, friends and family, sometime for money and for fun alongside delicious food to eat and wine to drink.
Buying new clothes is old customary part of Dashain and everyone seems more eager than ever to run around the busy market trying new arrivals while enjoying the festival offers when the price has already gone high at the same time.
Flying Kite is regarded as one of the important things to do during Dashain and people of all ages, especially kids are seen enjoying it. There is whole different kind of playful match among the kites in the sky, floating freely with cheers and happiness. Kites also signify freedom.
In villages, sub-urban and even in urban places, people gather around to play a bamboo made long Swing (Ping in Nepali), especially kids. It is said that at least once one should swing in the air leaving the ground during the festival. The idea is interpreted as leaving all the sorrows and ill fate and fly away to find the freshness of joy and good fortune.
Several kinds of fun fairs and events are organized during the festival and families are seen enjoying it.
More than seventy percent of people living in Kathmandu Valley are from the various parts of the country and most of them visit their home village/town during the festival. And the streets looked empty with less transportation, few stores opened and all government and private institutions and offices are closed.
It is almost the time when the entire country is filled with rejoicing and seen lively than ever with red tika on their foreheads, colorful new clothes, spending time with their loved ones, forgetting all discomfort and feeling the pleasant ambiance of festival prevailing all over the place.
In this year, the first day of Dashain — Ghatasthapana falls on 21 September 2017 and the tenth day “Vijaya Dashami” on 30 September, 2017.
Goodness and Truth always win, no matter how long the tyranny and evil dwells.
May Goddess Durga bless all the creatures, eliminate hatred and bring love, peace and good fortune to the mankind.