festival of Nepal,It is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese Hindu of all castes throughout the globe. It is not only the longest festival of the country but is also the one which is most anticipated. The festival falls around September–October, starting from the bright lunar fortnight and ending on the day of full moon. Although the festival is being celebrated for 15 day, the most important days are the 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th and the 10th day.The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon.Dasain is also popularly referred to as Bada Dasain, Dashera, Vijaya Dashami etc. It is also referred to as Durga Puja,in some parts of India.
Throughout the country the goddess Durga in all her manifestations is worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the ritual of holy bathing, drenching the goddess for days in blood. This festival is also known for its emphasis on the family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties.People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together.All government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed during the festival period.
victory of the good over the evil. Mahishasura, a demon, had created terror in the dev-lok (the world of gods). All the gods and saints prayed to the Adi-Shakti in order to kill Mahishasura, Goddess came as Durga emerged and killed the demon thus saving everyone from terror.
The first nine days of Dashain symbolizes the battle which took place between the different manifestations of goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura. The tenth day is the day when Durga finally defeated Mahishasura. Goddess Durga is worshipped throughout the country as divine mother goddess.
Throughout the festival people pay homage to the various forms of the Supreme Goddess, Durga. The festival is important since it reminds everyone of the universal principles of truth, justice and virtue that must prevail over deception, injustice and wickedness. It is believed that if she is worshiped properly and pleased then good luck is bound to happen. However, if the goddess is angered through negligence then misfortunes are said to happen.
Dashain is the biggest festival for the Hindus. The followers of Shakta cult take it as the day of falling of demon Mahishasur by goddess Durga. For non-Shakta Hindus, this festival symbolizes the victory of Rama over Ravana, the characters of the epic Ramayana. The Buddhists remember this day as Emperor Ashoka of the Indian subcontinent abandoned violence on this day and entered the path of Buddhism.
In the Kathmandu Valley, among the Newars, the festival is known as "Mohanee", with slight difference in rituals and significance, thus more than often confused with the Dasain.Day 1: Ghatasthapana
Ghatasthapana marks the beginning of Dasain.It literally means installing a pot which symbolizes Goddess Shakti. It falls on Aswin Shukla Pratipada, the first day of the bright half of the lunar calendar in the month of Ashvin. On this day the kalasha is filled with holy water which is then covered with cow dung and sewn with barley seeds. Then, the kalasha is put in the center of a rectangular sand block. The remaining bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The priest then starts the puja by calling goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence. This ritual is performed at a certain auspicious time which is determined by the astrologers.Goddess Shakti is believed to reside in the Kalash vessel during the Navratri period.
The room where all this is done is known as the ‘Dasain Ghar’. Generally, outsiders and women are not allowed to enter the Dasain Ghar. A male family member worships the Kalasha twice every day, once in the morning and then in the evening. It is kept away from direct sunlight,and holy water is offered to it every day, so that by the tenth day of the festival the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass. This sacred grass is known as ‘Jamara’. These rituals continue till the seventh day.Day 7: Fulpati
Fulpati is a major celebration occurring on the seventh day of Dasain. On this day the jamara to be used by the royal family is brought from Gorkha palace, their ancestral house. The Fulpati (jamara and the other items that is necessary for tika) is brought after a three day walk from Gorkha district which is about hundred and sixty nine kilometers away from the valley of Kathmandu. A parade is held in the Tundikhel ground in Kathmandu.
The royal Kalasha, banana stalks, jamara and the sugar cane tied with red cloth is brought by the Brahmans from Gorkha which is led by the royal priest's military platoon. Hundreds of government officials gather together in the Tundikhel grounds in conventional formal dress to witness the event. The king observes the ceremony in Tundikhel while the fulpati parade is headed towards the Hanuman Dhoka royal palace. Then there is a majestic display of the Nepalese Army along with a celebratory firing of weapons that continues for ten to fifteen minutes honoring Fulpati. The Fulpati is taken to the Hanuman Dhoka Royal palace by the time the occasion ends in Tundikhel.
However, since 2008 when the monarchy system was removed from the country, the two-century old tradition is changed so that the holy offering of fulpati goes to the residence of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has taken over the king's social and religious roles after the fall of the royal government, as he is believed to be ruling the nation and not the king.
Day 8: Maha Asthami
The eighth day is called the 'Maha Asthami'. This is the day when the most demonic of Goddess Durga’s manifestations, the blood-thirsty Kali, is appeased through the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of buffaloes, goats, pigeons and ducks in temples throughout the nation. Blood, symbolic for its fertility, is offered to the Goddesses. Appropriately enough, the night of this day is called Kal Ratri (Black Night). It is also the norm for buffaloes to be sacrificed in the courtyards of all the land revenue offices in the country on this day. The old palace in Basantapur Hanuman Dhoka, is active throughout the night with worships and sacrifices in almost every courtyard. On the midnight of the very day the Dasain Ghar, a total of 54 buffaloes and 54 goats are sacrificed in observance of the rites. After the offering of the blood, the meat is taken home and cooked as "prasad", or food blessed by divinity. This food is offered, in tiny leaf plates, to the household Gods, then distributed amongst the family. Eating this food is thought to be auspicious. While the puja is being carried out great feasts are held in the homes of common people.Day 9: Maha Navami
The ninth day is called Maha-navami which literally means the great ninth day. This day is the last day of Navarati. Ceremonies and rituals reach the peak on this day. On this day, official military ritual killings are held in one of the Hanuman Dhoka royal palace called the Kot courtyard. On this occasion, the state offers the sacrifices of buffaloes under the gunfire 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.
On this day the Vishwakarma, the god of creativeness is also worshiped as it believed that all the things which help is in making a living should be kept happy. Artisans, craftsmen, traders, and mechanics worship and offer animal and fowl blood to their tools, equipment, and vehicles. Moreover, since it is believed that worshipping the vehicles on this day avoids accidents for the year all the vehicles from bikes, cars to trucks are worshiped on this day.
The Taleju Temple gates are opened for the general public on only this day of the year. Thousands of devotees go and pay respect to the goddess this day. The temple is filled with devotees all day longDay 10: Dashami
The tenth day of the festival is the 'Dashami'. On this day, a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion is prepared by the women. This preparation is known as "tika". Elders put this tika and jamara which is sewn in the ghatasthapana on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with abundance in the upcoming years. The red also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together. Elders give "Dakshina", or a small amount of money, to younger relatives at this time along with the blessings. 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. This ritual of taking tika from all the elder relatives (even the distant relatives)helps in the renewal of the community ties greatly. This is one reason why the festival is celebrated with so much of vigor and enthusiasm.
Before the collapse of the monarchy system in Nepal, thousands of people ranging from the ministers, diplomats and general public used to gather in the old royal palace to take the tika and blessing from the king who is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. However after the collapse of the monarchy system the president of the country who is considered the head of the state has been continuing the trend by offering the tika to the general public and ministers.
The last day of the festival which lies on the full moon day is called 'Kojagrata' Purnima. The literal meaning of Kojagrata is 'who is awake'. On this day Goddess Laxmi who is believed to be the goddess of wealth is worshiped as it believed that goddess Laxmi descends on earth and showers whoever is awake all night with wealth and prosperity. People enjoy over the night by playing cards and many more.
Animal sacrifices are often the norms during this time, as the festival commemorates the mythical bloody battles between the "divine" and "demonic" powers. The proponents of animal sacrifice interpret that this sacrificial act as the symbolic sacrifice of our animal qualities, but those who are compassionate to the sacrificed victims think otherwise stressing that the sacrificial act is nothing but an excuse to fulfill the appetite for food/meat.