Dashain, or Vijaya Dashami, the master festival of Nepal, is alien to most foreigners. Dashain is a national holiday in Nepal to commemorate the deity Durga’s conquest over the fiend Mahishasura. This grand Dashain festival in Nepal is the longest and most awaited occasion for Nepalese people. Having faith in the goddess, folks from all over the country have greeted this festival with great passionate gestures.
This wonderful Dashain festival falls during the month of September or October. And it is celebrated for 15 days annually. The 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th day is the key ritual of this festival. All the enthusiasts from poor to rich, enjoy the festive atmosphere.
The first day of the Dashain festival represents Ghatasthapana where people sow holy grass called Jamara. On the 7th day, devotees enter the house with Phulpati which indicates welcoming gods for good fortune.
On the 8th day, people sacrifice livestock like black buffalo, goats, hens, and ducks on the 9th day, and worship their machinery items for the sake of the Deity’s victory. Vijaya Dashami, the most awaited day of the year, falls on the 10th day and ends on the 15th day.
Origin of Dashain, Nepal’s Grand Festival
As per Legend, Goddess Durga with nine different avatars draped in crimson robes, rode a Tigerish Gdon and held 10 different powerful weapons like lotus, a conch, flame, thunderbolt, Trishul, snake, mace, Chakkra, sword, bow, and arrow to battle with the devil. Lord Durga Maa fought with the demon buffalo Mahishasura for the whole day and night for 9 days.
Successfully, Goddess Durga killed the Mahishasura and saved the entire heaven from the devil. The monarch of Nepal referred to Durga as “the sacred defender” to honor her bravery. As the deity fought for 9 days long and took a victory, the tenth day is celebrated as the Vijaya Dashami which means the celebration of Victory on the Tenth day. Since then, offering sacrifices to the Goddess Durga has become one of the most prominent festival customs.
Dashain celebration in Nepal
As this festival is unknown to many tourists, and as explained above this festival is the longest festival celebrated in Nepal, they might be curious about how many days Dashain is celebrated.
Merely explaining, Dashain Festival is celebrated for fifteen days by Nepalese people all over the world. Out of 15 days, 5 days are enlisted as the foremost date i.e first day, Seventh-day, the Eighth day, the Ninth day, and the grand day- The tenth day. Dashain is Nepal’s most important holiday, commemorating Goddess Durga’s victory over evil.
About the Dashain festival’s days
Day 1: Ghatasthapana- sacred Jamara planting
Ghatasthapana, the first day of the Dashain festival. On this cheerful day, Goddess Durga is symbolized by filling a Kalash vessel with holy water. It is customary for the devotees to soak the maize, barley, and grain seeds and scatter them in the soil in a holy pot.
After that, people will place the Kalash in the middle of the holy pot and give it to the priest to complete the rituals. It is believed that following this ritual, Goddess Durga’s will gives blessings for good fortune.
Thereafter, devotees will place a holy clay pot in the darkroom to safeguard it from direct sunlight. It is traditionally forbidden for outsiders and women to enter the room where the holy pot is kept. Every day after the holy bath in the morning and in the evening the pot with Kalasa is worshiped and watered by the male devotee.
However, nowadays with the advancement of society, women are also allowed to worship it. Following this schedule regularly for several days, the soaked and the scattered seed will sprout out and thrive into yellowish six/seven inches long grass which is called Jamara.
This whole process of the Ghatasthapana rite takes place at a certain auspicious time predicted by astrologers.
Day 7: Phulpati- welcoming gods and good fortune
The 7th day of the Dashain, Phulpati. In Nepali parlance, Phul means flower and Pati means leaves.
On this day, people clean and decorate their whole house. Thereafter, following the rituals they bring nine different flowers into their house with a faith of welcoming nine gods and goddesses. Also, it is believed that entering Phulpati means you are welcoming good health, wealth, and fortune into the house.
Since ancient times, it has been customary to wrap sacred Kalash, Jamara, sugarcane, and banana stalks in crimson fabric and transfer them from Gorkha to Kathmandu to the priest. It takes about 3 days to reach the destination i.e Tudikhel, Kathmandu.
Tudikhel is decorated with many national and other colorful flags. Several dances, khukuri drills, horse marches, gun fires, and many more exciting performances are performed on the occasion of Phulpati. The Phulpati is carried and entered Hanuman Dhoka after completing the rituals. No one is allowed to enter Tudikhel without permission. But can be witnessed from the outer bar.
Before 2008, thousands of government authorities in formal attire accompanied by the King of Nepal would observe the Phulpati march performed by the military force in Tudikhel. Onwards, the eviction of the King, the event has been affirmed by the Prime Minister of Nepal, who has taken the position of the monarch.
Day 8: Maha Ashtami- offering sacrifices
On the eighth day of Dashain, which is Maha Ashtami, people worship the bravest form of deity Durga, the ferocious Kali. On this day, folks slaughter animals like goats, buffalos, hens, ducks, and sheep and offer their blood to the deity.
Merely, on this day almost all of the houses slash one animal to dedicate to the goddess and eat that meat as a Prasad ( god’s offering). Even large numbers of animals are sacrificed in the deity temple. So, this day is also known as bloody day.
At the dusk, devotees will slash 8 buffaloes and 108 goats in the honor of goddess Durga at Kot plaza of Kathmandu. For this reason, the night of Maha Ashtami is given the tag of “Kal Ratri” which means “Dark Night”.Thereafter, the meat is divided for a large number of people to be consumed as a deity blessing for good fortune. From this 8th day to the 15th day of Vijaya Dashami, the meat will be consumed.
Day 9: Maha Navami- Deity’s victory day and Vishokarma day
The day before the grand day ‘Vijaya Dashami’ is Navami, the day goddess Durga triumphed over the demon Mahishasura. On this day, devotees will visit the different temples of Durga and Kali. People appear to be waiting from dawn to dusk to worship and acquire blessings from deities, particularly at Taleju Bhawani Temple.
This day is also known as Vishwakarma Day. Faithkeepers revere their iron household products such as axes, khukuri, knives, and other machines like buses, cars, vans, bikes, airlines, and so on. This event is observed by slaughtering livestock and sprinkling the blood into the machine with the hope of avoiding accidents.
Furthermore, armed forces worship their weapons by chanting prayers, playing military tunes and slaughtering livestock, and sprinkling their blood on them. Except for vegans, everyone consumes meat with various items on this day.
Day 10: Dashain- The grand day, Vijaya Dashami.
Every Nepalese, no matter where they live, celebrates this special day as the main festival of Nepal. Relatives and friends will exchange greeting cards and presents to mark the occasion. In honor of this occasion, relatives and friends will exchange greeting cards and presents.
On this sacred day, elder people put tika( pest of red color powder, yogurt, rice, and Lil bit water) and Jamara (sacred yellowish grass) which was planted on the day of Ghatasthapana. Also, they enchant the mantra and provide blessings with presents and Dakshina(money).
The sacred Vijaya Dashami is a great occasion for family reunions. During this period, younger people visit elder relatives’ homes to place tika and seek blessings from them. Especially from the old aged people. The elder people also send blessings via. Msg, call, and video calls on this day who can’t reach them due to some problem.
The master festival Dashain continues for five days and this day is considered the main day. At dusk, the Kathmandu valley comes alive with spectacular parades and masked performances to commemorate the victory of the deity Durga, Ram’s victory over Ravana.
Day 15: Ko-Jagrata Purnima, worshiping the deity for wealth and luck
The last day of the Dashain festival in Nepal. Ko-Jagrata which falls on the night of the full moon day. In the Hindu language, Ko means ‘who’ and Jagrata means ‘ awake’. Folks stay awake, having faith that those who stay awake on this day will be blessed with good health, wealth, and fortune.
As you have to stay awake till dawn, people find excuses to play cards overnight.
Thereafter, Everyone gets back to normal days like doing their daily life work. People are eager to labor and attain virtue, strength, and prosperity after getting the goddess Durga’s blessing.
As a result, Dashain is not only the biggest but also the most awaited festival for Nepalese people. Because they will get time to spend quality time with their close ones and also visit their relatives who stay far from them.
Vijaya Dashami in Nepal 2023
In 2023, the top festival of Nepal Dashain falls on the 15th of October. Dashain is a focused festival for mainly the Hindu religion of Nepal. However, this day marks the biggest day for all Nepali people. On the occasion of Dashain 2079, the government of Nepal announced a public holiday of 6 days from October 10 to October 16.
Dashain Tradition in Nepal
Vijaya Dashami is a great occasion for family reunions and spending quality time with loved ones. Because in this period, all the workplaces, government offices, and schools remain closed. Also, people return back to their homes to celebrate this auspicious festival with their family members.
Readiness for Dashain in Nepal, houses are cleaned, embellished, and adorned so that the deity may appear and honor them with great treasure. In addition, there will be a lively bazaar filled with buyers seeking fashionable clothing, presents, and luxury, along with foodstuffs for familial feasts and deity sacrifices.
Meat, meat, and more meat from the 8th to 15th day of the Dashain festival in Nepal. The sacrificed livestock meat will be consumed by everyone.
‘Vijaya Dashami’ is pervasive everywhere you look during the month of September or October in Nepal. The soul-relaxing tune of the Malshree Dhun starts to be played in every house many days before the Dashain starts. It is the song and tune that heralds the arrival of Dashain.
Furthermore, kids enjoy kite flying with faith to please god for no more rainfall whereas older people enjoy playing cards.
As ancient people practice, you have to leave the earth once during the Dashain festival, so Linge Ping (bamboo swing) is constructed in different places. People of all age groups enjoy playing a swing. Kids in Nepal enjoy it most during the Dashain festival.
People use this Dashain festival in Nepal to embark on trekking because it happens during the Autumn season. A large number of tourists travel for a trek around this season each year. Since it allows them to explore the culture and traditions of the Nepalese people and also enjoy clear mountain vistas of Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek, Manaslu Circuit Trek, and other more. Even Nepalese find it more interesting to indulge in adventurous sports like bungee jumping, paragliding, wildlife safari, and likewise in their Dashain vacation.
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