Dashain "Happy Vijaya Dashami" - Hindu Festival
Dashain is one of the main festival of Hindu people. The festival falls on the month Ashwin and people celebrate it with great joy.
Dashain is one of the main Hindu festivals all over the world. Hindu people of Nepal and portions of Darjeeling, Sikkim, Siliguri, Assam, Bhutan, and Myanmar celebrate this 15 days long festival. The Newari Buddhist community also celebrates this festival. Nepalese people consider Dashain as a victory of truth over lies and destruction of darkness as well as the restoration of peace.
As per the Nepalese lunar calendar, the festival begins on the Shukla Paksha (bright lunar night) of the month; Ashwin (September / October). Then it concludes on Purnima, the full moon of Ashwin. The event begins with Ghatasthapana and lasts for fifteen days. The first, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and fifteenth are the most crucial days in Dashain.
During Dashain Hindu community germinate paddy (Jamara) on the first day of this festival. They worship them every day and on the ashthami they offer sacrifice to the goddess durga.
Dashain in Nepal is specially auspicious because at this time of the year, people complete their harvest. They enjoy good food. Likewise, it also is a festival to show respect to elders. People accept Tika, Jamara and blessings from the elderly family members. They fly kites, play swings, wear new clothes and visit relatives. The festival celebration has its own grandeur in every part of Nepal.
This festival also symbolizes women as all powerful, and restores the respect for women in Nepal. People worship nine incarnations of goddess Durga which reminds people that the human race is dependent on Women. Dashain also marks a travel season in Nepal.
Mohani Parva in Buddhist Community
Newari communities celebrate Mohani Parva, an important festival of the Nepal Sambat calendar during Dashain. During Mohani Parva, the goddess Durga and her nine incarnations are highly revered by Newars throughout Kathmandu.
In Newar Community, people put on the black tika (moni tika) from the elders on the tenth day of Dashain. Mohani parva is a festival to commemorate the only female incarnation of Lord Vishnu known as Mohani. Though people mostly put on red tika during Dashain festival, Mohni tika is a little different.
Even Buddhists from the Newa community participate in Mohani but in a slightly different fashion. The community receives blessings from a family sage rather than the elder of the family. This ten days long recital of Buddhist scripts ends after performing a yagna on the final day of Mohani.
In every community, dashain emphasizes family reunions. Likewise, the News community also prepares nakhyat, a special dish on the tenth day and holds a feast.
Main Events of Dashain
Preparation of Dashain starts nationwide as soon as the Ashwin month starts. People consider Dashain Festival as a nationally important festival occasion. Hence Government offices and other businesses, along with general people start cleaning and remodeling during Dashain. The National bank issues new notes so that people can give each other crisps new notes as gifts and blessings.
Here are 6 main days of Dashain Festival.
The Dashain festival begins with the Ghatasthapana. On this day, elder family member of the house makes a rectangular sand block on a room. They fill the kalash with water and place it in the middle of the sand block. The remaining of the sand box is seeded with paddy seeds which is later grown into Jamara. Then they perform puja and worship Goddess Durga. People believe no other people should enter that room.
After 6 days of Ghatasthapana, the seventh day seven of this festival is Fulpati. On this day, ‘Ful’ means flower and ‘Pati’ means leaves and plants. People offer flowers to Goddess Durga on this day. They worship the Jamara on this day. In Tudikhel at Kathmandu, Nepalese Army organized a special parade in the presence of the President.
The eighth day of Dashain "Maha Ashtami" is the day of goddess Kali. People believe goddess Kali as Lord Shiva’s manifestation and Goddess Durga's fierce incarnations. They visit the nearest Kali temple and worship kali. On this day, people sacrifice buffaloes, goats, chickens, and ducks to the goddess Kali.
The 9th day of Dashain is celebrated as Maha Nawami. This is the last day of Nawaratra where we worship niner different forms of Durga.
Military ceremonial sacrifices are done in one of the Hanuman Dhoka royal palaces Kot courtyards on this day. Likewise, people worship vehicles, musical tools, and other machineries on this day.
Finally, on the 10th day of Dashain festival , the main event of Dashain falls. People commemorate Goddess Durga on Vijaya Dashami. They believe Goddess Durga ( formed from the energy of all the gods and equipped with their weapons) defeated Mahishasura after a 10 day long fight.
On the last day of the festival, people worship Hindu goddess Maha Laxmi. The day falls on the full moon of Ashwin ("Kojagrat Purnima") In Hinduism, Maha Laxmi is the goddess of wealth.
People stay awake the whole night enjoying and playing cards. They believe that goddess Lakshmi travels around the houses seeking for people who have stayed up all night. There’s a common saying that When the goddess visits our homes, she whispers, "Who is awake?" ("Ko jageko chha?"). The “kojagrat” part of the holiday's name comes from this expression.
Myths / facts about Dashain Festival
There are two popular myths behind the dashain festival. First belief says that "People celebrate dashain because of the victory of goddess Durga over Mahishasura. After a 9 day long fight, finally on the tenth day she defeated the demon. Dashain is commemorated as the victory of good over evil.
Another is the epic Ramayana, which says that Bhagavan Ram (Vishnu's avatar) defeated Ravana, Lanka's terrible demon ruler. Only Goddess Durga's blessings made this victory possible. Hence, People celebrate dashain festival from the day when Ram won over Ravana as the symbol of the victory of good over evil.