Dashain is a big thing for us. From childhood, we are brought up with a conscience that it’s important. But not many people are familiar with the background responsible for its significance, even the Nepalese. So, today, I am going to give you a brief insight of what it is all about.
The festival marks the victory of goddess Durga over Mahisasura, a powerful demon. Celebrated around the month of September/October for ten days, this festival starts from the bright lunar fortnight and ends on the full moon day.
It is also known for its family gatherings when members living in far off places return to their homes.Moreover, all the educational institutions, government and non government offices in Nepal remain closed throughout this festival.
The first day is known as Ghatasthapana. On this day, a metal pot is filled with holy water and then, covered with cow dung with some seeds of barley. This pot is said to represent Goddess Shakti. After that, it is placed on a rectangular surface filled with sand which also has seeds of grains planted in it. A priest, then,performs rituals and places the entire structure in a place away from sunlight. It is left for a week and in the end, yellowish green grass like plants grow which is used as Jamara for Tika.
The real celebration starts from the seventh day, which is known as Fulpati. On this day, the entire house is decorated with attractive flowers, leaves and plants. Similarly, different communities also organize feasts for the occasion.
MahaAshtami is the eighth dayor the day of sacrifice. A goat or a buffalo, depending on the family, is brought and renounced to Goddess Kali. The meat is then cooked and eaten by the family members in the form of Prasad, food blessed by gods.On a national level, animals are sacrificed in almost all the temples around the nation especially, on a bigger scale in Basantapur Hanuman Dhoka.It remains active throughout the night and various rites and renounces are performed.
The ninth day is called MahaNawami. The sacrifice continues as on this day, animals are renounced on gunfire salutes under the command of the military in Kot courtyard. The most special thing about this day is The Taleju Temple, the gates of which open only once a year on this very occasion.
The last day is called Dashami. On this day, elder members of a family,as a form of their blessings, put Tika (a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion)on the forehead of younger family members and offer them Jamara (planted on Ghathasthapana). Even distant relatives make a visit for the same purpose. This process continues for five days until the full moon day and is believed to strengthen the bond between the members and relatives.
This is what we call ‘The standard Dashain’ but depending on the family and the community, there exists variation in rituals. E.g. the rituals are not performed exactly the same way as mentioned above in all families. Accordingly, not all families sacrifice animals on the eighth day. Similarly, few families in the south don’t put Tika and so on.
It’s a small attempt towards writing about a very important event that exists and I hope that this blog would help a lot of us to get accustomed to our culture! Happy Dashain!