About Nepal’s Dashain festival

Dashain (also pronounced as Dasain) is the longest and most popular Hindu festival in Nepal.  It has several different names, including Dasain, Vijaya Dashami, and Dahsera. The longest holiday in Nepal, Dashain Festival begins this year on September 21 and is celebrated for about 15 days with equal zeal and enthusiasm. The Nepal government even closes its offices for about seven days during this festival. However, the first, seventh, eighth, ninth, and the tenth are the most important days.

The first day of the festival starts from Ghatasthapana. The “Dashain Ghar,” or special worship room, is set up, to start pooja of Durga Bhawani. This room is used to plant barley called Jamara in Nepali and to worship the Astha-Matrikas (the 8 tantrik Goddesses) as well as the Nava Durgas (the 9 Goddess Durga) for remaining 9 days.  (All these 9 days have their own importance in Dashain celebration). Barley is sowed in sand brought from a river, and the barley is called Jamara when it is grown.  These seeds will sprout in ten days. The sprouts, which symbolize a good harvest, will be decoratively placed on the heads of family members later on in the festival as a blessing.

Dashain is the celebration of the victory of good over evil. This festival symbolizes that good always prevails over bad and reminds us every year that the evil may be strong for a time, but the truth and good will always win out.

This festival is known for the emphasis on family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. Many Nepalese expatriates from different parts of the country actually return to Nepal specifically to observe Dashain Festival in their homeland being together with their family.

There is a tradition of getting new clothes and having a big feast in this festival and a family gathering is the highlight. Swinging on swings made up of bamboo and coconut rope is part of the tradition. It’s customary to swing at least once in this festival. People say if you leave the ground swinging in Dashain, the swing will take away ill feelings and replace them with rejuvenation inside oneself. Flying kites is another attraction for kids.

People all across the country worship Durga Bhawani and visit temples. It is called Nauratha visits. People wake up early and go to temples of Devi Durga. They often perform musical programs and Ramlila in Madhesh and Terai region of Nepal. Nepal has its own music which symbolizes Dashain. The music is called Mal Shree Dhun.

In the hilly regions, people put tika from the hands of elders on their foreheads. In some places, people make a dummy of Ravan and burn it in the tenth day with a performance of Ram Lila. The traditions differ according to the geographic structure but all celebrate the festival joyfully.

Provided by Dawa Jangbu Lama Sherpa

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