Why Celebrate Dashain: Embracing Tradition and Togetherness in Nepal

15, Oct 2023 | nepaltraveller.com

Dashain is a time for celebrating tradition, spirituality, and togetherness in Nepal. It offers a unique opportunity to connect with the rich history and mythology of Hindu culture while enjoying the vibrant festivities, delicious food, and cherished family moments

Nepal, a land steeped in culture and tradition, hosts a major Hindu festival that resonates with history and spirituality. Dashain, often referred to as Vijaya Dashami, is a vibrant celebration that holds a special place in the hearts of the Nepalese people. This unique festival marks the end of Durga Puja and spans fifteen days of festivities, family reunions, and the exchange of heartfelt gifts. It's a time when every day carries its own significance, offering a deep and beautiful reflection of Hindu beliefs.

The significance of Dashain lies in its connection to the victory of good over evil, a theme central to Hindu mythology. It commemorates the day when the goddess Durga vanquished the formidable demons known as Mahishasura, who had threatened the world of the gods. Durga's triumph over these malevolent forces marked a turning point in history, and Dashain is celebrated over fifteen days to symbolize the relentless struggle of good against evil.

During Dashain, the entire nation comes alive with vibrant traditions and heartfelt celebrations. Government institutions are closed, allowing people to return to their hometowns and embrace the festivities with their families. Each day of Dashain holds unique significance, but several are especially noteworthy, such as the first, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and fifteenth days, all of which are dedicated to honoring the great battle fought by Durga.

Durga, a divine goddess with many manifestations, is particularly revered during Dashain, and one of her most potent forms is that of Kali, the goddess of death. Kali played a pivotal role in assisting Durga in defeating the demons. Therefore, Dashain includes a special day dedicated to celebrating Kali's fearsome power and her role in this epic battle.

The Days of Dashain:

Ghatasthapana (First Day): This day marks the beginning of Dashain and is symbolized by the planting of Jamara and the worship of the Kalash, a sacred vessel that represents the purity of Durga. The Kalash is worshipped twice on this day, usually by the eldest male in the household.

Fulpati (Seventh Day): On this day, families clean and decorate their homes. A Fulpati parade, attended by dignitaries including the President and government officials, takes place. A traditional ten-minute firing ceremony is a centuries-old tradition that adds to the grandeur of the celebration.

Maha Ashtami (Eighth Day): This day is devoted to worshipping both Durga and Kali, marking the most fierce expression of Durga's power, represented by Kali. Devotees offer blood sacrifices as a symbol of fertility and eat the meat of various animals in honor of Kali.

Maha Navami (Ninth Day): Preparations for the festival reach their peak on this day. Temples dedicated to both Kali and Durga are adorned with offerings and sacrifices. This day is also known as Tika Day, during which machinery and mechanical household items like cars, knives, and buses are worshipped.

Vijaya Dashami (Tenth Day): This is the pinnacle of Dashain, a day filled with food, gifts, and the exchange of money, often by the eldest member of the household, regardless of gender. The festivities culminate with the offering of Tika, Jamara, and Dakshina (money).

Kojagrat (Fifteenth Day): Falling on a full moon, Kojagrat translates to "who is awake." On this day, devotees stay awake all night, as legend has it that the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi, bestows wealth upon those who remain awake.

Dashain is not just a religious celebration; it's a cultural mosaic that brings together various traditions and activities. Across Nepal, people celebrate Dashain in their own unique ways. Children and teenagers often fly colorful kites or engage in card games, creating opportunities for bonding, fun, and even a little friendly competition.

Cleaning one's home is a common practice during Dashain, as it is believed to welcome the goddess Durga and bring good fortune. With relatives visiting, homes are prepared to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

New clothes are a must during Dashain, symbolizing color and happiness. Sales and promotions abound, allowing families to purchase new attire and adorn themselves in style. Children are often gifted new clothes to mark the occasion.

Swings are erected in parks for public enjoyment. A special belief holds that anyone who leaves the ground on a swing at least once during Dashain will be granted a safe passage to heaven after death. These swings not only provide exhilaration but also carry a heartfelt wish for well-being.

Dashain is a time for celebrating tradition, spirituality, and togetherness in Nepal. It offers a unique opportunity to connect with the rich history and mythology of Hindu culture while enjoying the vibrant festivities, delicious food, and cherished family moments. Whether you're drawn to the religious aspects, the cultural traditions, or the sense of togetherness that Dashain brings, this festival is a remarkable journey that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of all who partake in its celebrations.

photo credit: kabita Darlami

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