Dashain Festival: The Greatest Festival of the Hindus
Dashain festival is the greatest festival of the Hindus. Celebrated mostly in Nepal, India, and by the Hindus immigrants worldwide, Dashain is the celebration of the victory of good over bad, of positive over negative, and of virtue over evil.
Dashain Festival: The festival of Victory
Dashain festival is also known as Vijaya Dashami. Vijaya means victory and Dashami means the tenth day of the lunar calendar. Together, the celebration of Goddess Durga’s victory over the demons is celebrated/ worshipped for ten days. Thus, Dashain festival is also called Vijaya Dashami.
Dashain Festival: The Festival of Superlatives
Dashain festival celebrated as the greatest, longest, and the most important festival of the Hindus takes this name mainly from the ten major days of this festival. Dashain has the Nepali word dush meaning ten. The first ten days of the fifteen-day-long Dashain festival are more significant in terms of worshipping various avatars of Goddess Durga, the Kali. Goddess Kali is the symbol of power, destroyer, and also killer. The Hindus worship Goddess Kali following the ancient myths which describe the murder of Mahisasur and Shumbha Nishumbha by her. Kali is the most powerful mythical character of the Hindus.
Dashain Festival: Facts and Fables
The Hindu myths associated to the Dashain festival say that the demons started giving much trouble to the Gods and after it was untolerable, Gods took shelter of mother Goddess Durga. She took the form of Kali, and killed the fierce demons including Mahishasur and Shumbha Nishumbha. In memory of those demons’ death, they started worshipping Goddess Durga in her various forms. Thus the worship or prayer remains for nine days. Each days, Goddess Durga is worshipped with a different name. Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kaal Ratri, Maha Gauri, and Siddhidatri are the nine names of Navadurga. Each day of the first nine days of the Dashain festival is associated with a different form of the Goddess Durga and a special and unique event is organized by the Hindus for the celebration.
Dashain Festival: When is it celebrated?
Dashain festival is celebrated in the month of Asoj of the Nepali calendar. This is normally in the month of October in the Western calendar. This year, the Dashain festival is being celebrated from October 10 to 24, 2018. The months of October and November are probably the finest months of the year in Nepal. The long monsoon is over, weather neither hot nor cold, clear skies, and beautiful mountain views. The majority of farmers happy with their good harvest. Holiday time for fifteen days long add to the celebration.
Dashain Festival Day One: Ghatasthapana
Dashain festival is celebrated for fifteen days and the first day is called the Ghatasthapana. On the next day of the Asoj month’s no moon night, the holy celebration of the Ghatasthapana takes place. Ghatasthapana is made of two words: ghata or ghada and sthapana. Ghata means a pot or a vessel and sthapana means to establish. The first day is the establishment of a vessel in which pure water, flowers, and banyan leaves are kept. The water is used to spray over the barley seedlings. This is called putting the Jamara. The germinated barley saplings are considered very holy among the Hindus. They water the saplings for nine days. Ghatasthapana is the starting of the Dashain festival.
Dashain Festival Days Two-Six: Prayer, Sacrifice, Shopping, Travelling, and Eating!
From the second day to the sixth day of Dashain festival, the prayer to Goddess Durga, the watering of the barley seedlings, chanting the Durga mantras, the hymns continue. During these days, schools are closed and children go for shopping, buying new clothes. In many families, Dashain is the yearly occasion of buying new clothes.
These early days are also the preparation days for the coming intensive celebration from the seventh to the fifteenth days of Dashain festival. People buy goats and other animals for sacrifice. Pigeons are taken to temples and released. The fifth day of Dashain festival, Panchami, also marks the celebration of Panchabali, sacrifice of five creatures.
Normally, the Hindus sacrifice animals in the Durga temples to offer Goddess Kali the blood of evil. However, a flexible cultural practice gives room for a rather non-violent method of sacrifice. Instead of animals, people offer fruits and vegetables as an alternative form of sacrifice.
Travelling to the close and famous Durga temples throughout Nepal is another noticeable event of this time. From the first day until the ninth day of Dashain festival, travelling to the Durga temples continues. Some greatest temples associated to Durga Goddess are in Kathmandu, Manakamana, Nepalganj, Dang, Salyan, and other minor Durga temples are in almost every districts of Nepal. However, most of the Nepalese Hindus go to the Manakamana temple during this time.
Of course, one important aspect of the Dashain festival is meat eating. The Hindus are clever in this sense. The animals are sacrificed in the name of offering blood to God. Normally, they would sacrifice the animal whose meat they would eat later as the prusaad. In every house, there is meat. Those who don’t like meat can feel offended with the meat smell coming off the every kitchen.
Wait, the animal sacrifice and meat eating has not finished here. You may want to read more to know more about Dashain festival below. The barley saplings have grown a bit till now!
Dashain Festival Day Seven: The Phoolpati
The seventh day of Dashain festival is called Phoolpati. As per the established tradition, flowers and the herbs are brought from Gorkha to Kathmandu in continuation of the historical link between the two important places of the unified Nepal: Gorkha and Kathmandu. On this day, the Nepal Army performs a special function at Tundikhel.
The shopping and travelling continues. The meat eating accelerates. Nobody is interested in eating common food like rice and vegetables, except for those who are habitually vegetarian or vegan. Cutting animals for meat consumption and storing for the relatives to come on the following days is the main attraction on this day.
Going to the Durga temple for worshipping is another common event throughout the first nine days of Dashain festival and this continues on this day also. The barley saplings look light green and lush watered with holy water!
Dashain Festival Day Eight: The Maha ashtami
Maha ashtami, the Durga Ashtami marks the important eighth day of Dashain festival. Most of the Hindus worship Goddess Durga on this day. They take a bath in the morning. Most of them also cook the rot रोट, made of rice flour, ghee, sugar and some smelling spices mixed. They take this rot to the nearest Durga temple and worship the Goddess asking blessings of wealth, prosperity, good luck and to get rid of all the evils.
Maha ashtami marks the largest number of animal sacrifice. People who hadn’t given the sacrifice on the previous days of Dashain festival normally wait for Maha ashtami to come and offer the animal sacrifice. The paradox is the animals are cut in the name of worshipping mother Goddess Durga, and meat eaten by people themselves.
Until this day of Dashain festival, every offices have Dashain vacation. The festive mood, the union with family members and relatives who had stayed away for work and education, the food and delicious dishes, the fine weather, and the annual harvest ready in most of the places add to people’s happiness. Dashain festival is the sum of many happiness in this sense.
Dashain Festival Day Nine and Ten: Maha Navami and Vijaya Dashami
The ninth day of Dashain festival is called the Maha Navami. This is also the night of the demon’s death – most of the demons in the Hindu myths. On the tenth day the victory is celebrated calling it the Vijaya Dashami.
The tenth day of Dashain, Vijaya Dashami, is the most important day of this festival. People take bath in the morning, wear new and fine clothes, and go to their elders for blessing. The blessings they receive as tika and jamara. The jamara is the grown of barley seedling they had kept on the day of Ghatasthapana. They offer good food and tika and jamara to their elders also. The tika and jamara receiving process continues until the fifteenth day of Dashain festival. The fifteenth day is also called Kojagrat Purnima.
Dashain Festival: The exceptional celebration of family reunion, delicious dishes, and prayer for prosperity!
Dashain festival is the greatest festival of Hindus as it is celebrated for fifteen days. The major celebration of blessing taking from the elders takes place for continuous five days. All the relatives go to their senior most members of the family and take blessings from them. The blessings normally have a wish for longevity, prosperity, and good health. People also wish for virtue that may get rid of all the evils. Normally, all the family members get reunited on this day who had separated for work or education. Eating good food, praying for prosperity, wealth, and success, asking Goddess Durga to grant them power and pelf, and also having a long vacation during the best weather of the year makes Dashain festival the greatest festival of the Hindus.