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Dashain - The festival of Victory of Good over Evil

By Nischhal Pradhan at
Dashain

Dashain or Vijaya Dashami or Dushera, is one of the most important and the longest festivals observed by the Hindus all over the world. Celebrated as the most anticipated festival in a year, this particular festival falls in September or October to celebrate the victory of Good over Evil in which the goddess Durga vanquishes the demon king Mhaisasura. This festival is celebrated by Nepalese people throughout the globe by worshipping Shakti in all her manifestations.Vijaya Dashami or Dushera, is one of the most important and the longest festivals observed by the Hindus all over the world. Celebrated as the most anticipated festival in a year, this particular festival falls in September or October to celebrate the victory of Good over Evil in which the goddess Durga vanquishes the demon king Mhaisasura. This festival is celebrated by Nepalese people throughout the globe by worshipping Shakti in all her manifestations.

Dashain is celebrated for 15 days, the most important days being the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and the tenth. This festival is also known for the emphasis of the family gatherings as the family members abroad or away from home come back home to celebrate with his/her parents, siblings and other family members, this activity is also taken as the renewal of family as well as community ties. People get back to home from different corners of the worlds to celebrate together. All the government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed during the period of the festival.

The significance of this festival is the victory of good over evil. It represents the victory of goddess Shakti or Durga over the demon Mhaisasura who had created terror in the world of gods. The first nine days symbolizes the ongoing battle which took place between the different manifestations of the godess and the demon. The tenth day, which is also known as Vijaya Dashami, Durga finally defeats Mahisasura. Similarly, it is also believed that in the day of Vijaya Dashami, Lord Rama defeated Ravana, which also symbolizes the victory of good over eveil as per Ramayana. There have been a lot of variations regarding the celebrations of the festival depending upon the location and the community of people. Among the Newars of the Kathmandu Vally, Mohani is celebrated instead of Dashain with slight differences of the rituals than the others. The Buddhists in Nepal celebrate this particular festival to commemorate emperor Ashoka's adoption of Buddhism.

The festival is celebrated by performing numerous activities. The children fly kites during the festival and it has been a very important part of celebrating Dashain as it is also considered as a message to the gods to stop rain. Colorful kites of different shapes, and the shouts of Changa Chait is a common sight during the festivals. In the older members of the family, this festival is celebrated by playing cards with each other alongside having various kinds of delicacies related to vegetables and meat with alcohol. Similarly, buying and wearing new clothes has been an integral part of this festival with almost every shop in the country offering festival discounts to the consumers. Also, bamboo swings, traditionally called 'ping' are constructed in many parts across the country which presents the best of local culture in Nepal.

During the first day of the festival i.e. Ghatasthapana, which marks the start of the festival, a sacred grass known as jamara is planted and is worshiped twice a day until the seventh day. The seventh day of the festival which is called Phulpati, the royal kalasha, jamara and sugarcane tied with red cloth is brought by Brahmins from Gorkha to Kathmandu. The following day, or Maha Astami, various temples of the Shakti, especially Kali, are filled with devotees sacrificing animals to please the goddess. The night of this day is called Kal Ratri. The ninth day, Maha Nawami is observed by worshipping various machineries as the ceremonies and ritual reach the peak on this day. The taleju Temple gates in the three Durbars of the Kathmandu Valleys are opened for general public on only this day of the year. Finally in Vijaya Dashami, the family members gather at home after worshipping the goddess Durga. The elders put on Tika and Jamara on the younger members of the family along with blessings and some money as blessings.