Dashain in Nepal
Do you know going to Mamaghar (maternal house) in the greatest festival of Hindus? Dashain is commonly seen among children in Nepal. They like playing linge ping (swing), getting Dakshina (money) from their elders, eat delicious food, buy new clothes and play local games such as Pittu, kabaddi, and flying kites. Unlike children, adults don’t have a similar type of joy.
Adults enjoy playing Taas (playing cards), drinking alcohol, getting together with families, friends and relatives, sacrificing Boka (he-goat) to goddess Kali on the day of Fulpaati (seventh day) whereas some theist people celebrate it by conducting Navaratri Pooja (worshipping goddess Durga and her nine manifestations/incarnations), Chandi path and other Durga Poojas.
Do you want to question that which ethnic communities here celebrate this festival? Well, almost all the communities celebrate this festival here, however, people belonging to Islam and Christian communities don’t celebrate Dashain. Dashain in Nepal is celebrated by conducting Navaratri on the beginning nine days, eating goat meat considering as holy food and taking red Tika (mixture of rice, yoghurt and red vermillion), Jamara (plant grown by sowing maize and barley seed on the first day of the festival i.e. Ghatastapana) and blessings (Aasirvaaad) from their elders by Aryan community.
People belonging to the Kirant community celebrate Dashain by eating goat meat of different animals and putting white or yellow Tika from their elders. It is said that when PN Shah conquered Kirant kingdom, they started putting white or yellow Tika as a symbol of their defeat and sadness to lose their territory.
People belonging to the Tharu community celebrate Dashain by worshipping goddess Durga on first nine days and taking fasting on those days. Some families even offer goats, ducks, eggs, chicken, and coconut to goddess Durga. Aryan people also have a culture to put Tika on the 11th (Ekadasi), 12th (Duadasi), 13th(Trayodasi), 14th (Chaturdasi), 15th (Kojagrat Poornima) days of Dashain too.
In Nepal, on the full-moon night (Kojagrat Poornima) i.e. 15th day of the festival, people have a tradition of playing Kauda (gambling).
So, now you might be thinking why Dashain in Nepal is celebrated so enthusiastically? Is it because it is a great festival? Of course, it is celebrated with great zeal and joy because it is a great festival but for your confirmation please know that it is not just limited to that. Dashain has a lot more significance than being just a festival.
Dashain honors a great victory of God (goodness) over wicked demons (evil). One of the victory stories according to Hindu mythology reveals that evil demons named “Sumbha”, Nisuumbha” and “Mahishashura” were killed by goddess Durga and her nine Manifestations when they started terrorism in the world. That is why people worship Goddess Durga and her nine incarnations which were taken for the sake of peace, prosperity, goodness, and progress of this Universe.
The first nine days symbolize the battle that took place between gods and demons. The tenth day is the specific day when the goddess (Durga) defeated the demon and his force. The festival is also related to another legend “Ramayana” that reveals the victory of “Purushottam” (best among males) Ram over Ravan with the blessings of Goddess Durga during Chaitra Shukla Pakshya (Chaitra Bright Fortnight).
Besides, Dashain reunites a family and makes them able to cherish. It also enhances love, respect, and honor to elders. Also, the festival falls during Sharad Hritu (Season) when nature and the environment are full of greenery and relaxation. This urges people to participate in the cultural occasion very actively as the natural beauty at that time motivates them.
Moreover, Dashain’s significance can be clearly determined by the act of government to give the longest holiday during the occasion. If you are saying that this act of government may be the threat to religious tolerance, then you must give a second thought for it. It is so because Nepalese people have adapted a good mutual understanding and are peace lover, harmonious people.
In which lunar month does this amazing festival usually fall? You may be looking into this for several times and failed to get reliable information. And this festival falls in the month of September or October in Gregorian Calendar (Ashoj or Kartik according to Nepalese calendar). Dashain in Nepal begins from Ashwin Shukla Pakshya (bright lunar fortnight) and ends on full moon night (Kojagrat Poornima). Going deeply into the subject, the legend “Ramayana” directs to celebrate Dashain on the month of Chaitra. But due to various health hazards seen in people, Dashain celebration is shifted in the month of Ashoj or Kartik month of Nepalese lunar calendar.
Of course, if the festival is celebrated with very much happiness, joy and enthusiasm then it is sure to be some bad consequences of the festival. People drink unnecessarily hard drinks and more amount of drinks in comparison to their daily dose during Dashain in Nepal.
People Are likely to be engaged in extravagance during the Dashain festival. Excessive drinking is more common in so-called higher class families. The eight-day called MahaAstami is a very bad day for many goats, sheep, buffaloes, Chyangras to appease gods which is a bad part of the festival.
Likewise, playing cards and losing property is another bad aspect of the festival. Similarly, being a multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual country, Nepal is a poor country. In the very blissful occasion of Dashain, some families consumed by poverty have tough times. They have always been striving for food and basic need and are unable to fulfill the requirements of their family, especially of children, such as buying new expensive clothes, eating delicious foods and so on.
Moreover, the cultural practice of conducting Navaratri has now become a competition for high-class families. They spend more money on the ceremony to show their superiority in society by claiming the grandest program to be done by them. This activity has created a huge social gap between rich and poor.
Did you know, Dashain for a middle-level family is hard too. These people take loans from banks and financial institution for full enjoyment and celebration of the greatest festival and later on, cannot clear that loan and have to strive. They have a practice of imitating other people to recognize themselves as a better off family in society. This is another consequence of this festival.
However, this festival is of great importance for all Nepalese and a great opportunity to reunite the scattered family members and relatives together. This brings refreshment among people.