Dashain ( Bada Dashain, Vijaya Dashami, Dashera or Durga Puja) is one of the longest and the most auspicious festival celebrated in Nepal. It is also celebrated in differents parts of India and is called Dashera. Dashain is celebrated by the Buddhists, Hindus and Kirats of Nepal and the ethnic Nepali Speaking Indian Gorkhas of Darjeeling hills, Sikkim, Assam and others North Eastern states of India and the Burmese Gurkhas of Myanmar.
Why is Dashain Celebrated?
Dashain has its own stories, importance and significance. It is regarded as victory of truth over the evil. One of the victory stories according to the Hindu mythology, once a water buffalo demon named Mahishasura, who spread horror in the devaloka ( the world where gods lives) but Goddness Durga killed the rakshas (demon). The first nine days of Dashain symbolize the battle which took place between the different manifestations of Durga and Mahishasura. The tenth day is the day when Durga finally defeated him.
Likewise, another Hindu mythology, Ramayan represents Dashain as the day where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravana, the fiendish king of demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked.
When is Dashain Celebaraed?
Dashain is generally falls in the month of Ashwin or Kartik (Nepalese Calendar) which usually falls around late september- early October. It is a full 15 days biggest festival of the year.
How Dashain is Celebrated in Different 15 Days?
Dashain is the longest festival,and it is celebrated with great joy for continuous fifteen days, however,some of the days have a specific and important significance among them,
1st Day – Ghatasthapana (Pratipada)
7th Day – Fulpati (Saptami)
8th Day – Asthami
9th Day – Navami
10th Day – Vijaya Dashami (Main Dashain Day) – Dashain ko Tika
11th Day – Akadasi
15th Day – Kojagrat Purnima
Day 1: Ghatasthapana
The first day of Dashain is called Ghatasthapana, which literally means Kalasha (pot) establishing. On this day, the kalasha is filled with holy water and covered with cowdung on to which seeds are sown. A small rectangular sand block is made and the kalash is put in the centre. The surrounding bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The ghatasthapana ritual is performed at a certain auspicious moment determined by the astrologers. At that particular moment the priest intones a welcome, requesting goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence.
The room where the kalash is established is called ‘Dashain Ghar‘. Traditionally, outsiders and women are not allowed to enter where dashain puja is being carried out. A priest or a household men will worship the kalasha twice a day, one time in the morning and another at night. The kalash and the sand are sprinkled with holy water everyday and it is protected from direct sunlight. Then the seeds begin to sprout.Several days later, five or six inches long yellow grass would thrive in the kalasha, known as ‘Jamara’, which will be offered on the tenth day, also known as Dashami, to the sons, daughter in laws, nephews, and all other relatives.
Day 7 : Fulpati
As days goes by customary ceremonies are seen till the seventh day.The seventh day is called ‘Fulpati’. In Nepali, “Ful” means Flower and “Pati” means leaves and plants. FhulPati literally means flowers, leaves and plants. There is a tradition in Nepal of bringing nine types of Fulpati into the puja room of the house on seventh day of Navaratri Puja. Therefore, the seventh day of Vijaya Dashami is also called ‘Fulpati’ in Nepal. It is believed that Fulpati represents nine Goddess and they brings health, wealth and prosperity to the homes.
In fulpati, the royal kalash filled with holy water, banana stalks, jamara and sugar cane tied with red cloth is brought by Brahmins from Gorkha, a three-day walk (about 170 kilometers) from Kathmandu. Hundreds of government officials is gather in the Tundikhel grounds in traditional dresses and join the parade to Hanuman Dhoka. The Nepalese army observes the continuous firing of the weapons for about fifteen minutes to celebrate the arrival of the Fulpati. There is a Royal Dashain Ghar inside the Hanuman Dhoka where the Fulpati are kept.
However,after 2008, the royal family was overthrown and more than 200 year old this ancient tradition has been changed. Now, the president of Nepal has replaced the king to host the ceremony.
Day 8: Aasthami
The eighth day is called ‘Maha Asthami’. Maha Asthami is the day when the fiercest of Goddess Durga’s manifestations, the bloodthirsty Kali, is appeased with the sacrifice of animals. This night is also known as Kal Ratri (Black Night). Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are ceremoniously sacrificed at the mother goddess temples. The sacrifice continues till dawn in observance of these rites. After being dedicated to the Goddess, those meat would be brought home and called as ‘Prasad’. Prasad is offered in tiny leaf plates to the household Gods, then distributed amongst the family. And it’s said that eating Prasad will bring good luck.
Day 9: Maha Navami is the last day of Navaratri, and when ceremonies and rituals reach the peak on this day. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Durga was incarnated as Devi Chamunda and slayed the Buffalo Demon Mahishasura. This day is celebrated by worshipping Goddess Durga with great devotion.
On this day, Official military ritual sacrifices are held in one of the Hanuman Dhoka, in the Kot courtyard, which is almost in the centre of Kathmandu.The state offers sacrifices of buffaloes , which is supported by the gunfires salutes. This day is also known as the demon-hunting day because members of the defeated demon army try to save themselves by hiding in the bodies of animals and fowls.
During the day,Vishvakarma, the god of creation, is worshiped. All the things that help people make a living should be kept happy, so artisans, craftsmen, traders, and mechanics worship and offer animal and fowl blood to their tools, equipment, and vehicles. It is believed that worshipping vehicles prevents the accidents in the coming year. This is the only day of the year that the gates of the Taleju Temple is opened for the public, and thousands of devotees to worship the Goddess.
Day 10: Bijaya Dashami (Vijaya Dashami)
The tenth day of the festival is also know as “Bijaya Dashmi”.The tenth day is the day with the most significance day. On this day, Tika ( a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion) is prepared by the women. Often dashain tika time is different every year. Elders put tika and jamara on the foreheads of younger members, blessings them to be a good person and for their better future.
The red tika is also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together for forever. Along with the tika, the younger also receive a small sum of money called “Dakshina”. This continues to be observed for five days till the full moon during which period families and relatives visit each other to exchange gifts and greetings.
Day 15: Kojagrat Purnima
The fifteenth day of Dashain is the last day of the festival that falls on the full moon day called Kojagrata Purnima. The literal meaning of the Kojagrata is ‘who is awake’. On this day, peoples worship the goddess of wealth; goddess Laxmi. They believe that the goddess will descend down to the earth in this day and bless her with prosperity that is awake for the whole night. The people enjoy the night by playing cards and much more.
TRADITIONS DURING THE GREAT FESTIVAL OF DASHAIN
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