All the homes of Hindus, either they were haves or have-nots, in Nepal smiled and cheered at this Dashain Festival throughout the nation though in scarcity or problems. Dashain, the greatest festival of the Hindus, was celebrated for fifteen days beginning from September 30 and ending October 14. The very day of the Dashain fell on October 9.
People in the previous years were terrified due to the prevalent armed conflict and violence in the country. After the improvement in the peace process of Nepal, they never felt panic, stress and trauma of war in their festive moods of this year. “We felt free and secured this time, and celebrated the festival in a mood of full joy and rejoice,” said Gaurav Aryal, who is originally from Palpa, Lumbini and a graduate student at Himalayan White House Graduate School of Management, Kathmandu.
Dashain, the most important and greatly celebrated festival is the very popular and bears a value of Nepalese culture. All the government offices or schools and other offices remain closed during the festival period. People of all ages, young to old, take this festival as good and holy day to bless and wish good to their relatives and friends. Older people offer tika along with blessing to the juniors and well-wishers. All make merry and have fun of victory over sorrow and pains faced throughout the year.
The first day, beginning of the festival is known as Ghatasthapana-the placing of the sacred vessel. According to the tradition, all devout Hindus should take an early morning bath in the holy river and return carrying some sand from the riverbed. At the same time, a small clay pot is filled with water from the same river and placed by the sand. Barley, wheat and maize seeds are planted for germinating in this pot and nurtured for nine days. The just grown soft plants are taken as holy thing and worn on the 10th day, widely known as Dashain Tika, Similar with other Nepalese festivals, this ritual has also a specific meaning of creation and justice. In this case, the river water represents the mother goddess Durga, according to legends, crushed many powerful demon hordes in an epic battle. For the next nine days, devotees go to different prescribed sites for early morning bathes and worship different forms of Goddesses.
The next major celebration even occurs on the 7th day of the festival when the sacred flowers and leaves used to bring from the old palace of Nepal unifier Prithvi Narayan Shah at Gorkha. However, after the fall of Monarchy in Nepal, the tradition was broken this time and performed the activities at Hanuman Dhoka gate in Kathmandu where brass bands are waiting to celebrate the occasion. At the same time, guns and cannons are fired at Tundikhel parade ground.
The eighth day of the festival is known as Mahashtami and is marked by a fast by all orthodox Hindus. In the morning, animal sacrifices are carried out at temples dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Taking Blessings from Elders
On the 9th day, all temples dedicated to Durga are bathed in sacrificial blood as a tradition. On this day, even vehicles and other mechanical items are worshipped and sacrificed so as to prevent accidents during the coming year. Similarly, all instruments, weapons and implements of all professions are worshipped in the hope that Durga will bless their usefulness and accuracy. In the evening, there is an elaborate sacrifice at the Taleju temple near Hanuman Dhoka.
The peak of Dashain celebration reaches on the tenth day known as Vijaya Dashami, or the Day of Victory over the evils. On this day, all the Hindus are supposed to visit their elders or superior relatives, starting with their parents. The main purpose of this visit is to receive tika and shoots of the barley known as jamara. Tika is a red dot or smear placed on the visitor’s forehead by the senior relative. Also frequently used in other festivals and even in daily worship, the tika consists of vermilion powder, rice and curd. People visit their relatives to receive tika on the day. As all visits cannot be completed in one day, they continue until the end of the festival. The holy period of two weeks beginning from new moon ends at the full moon day.
[Photos Credit: Amit Lamichane / Explore Himalaya]