|There are many festivals that Hindus of the world observe every year. Dashain is also one of the festivals which are observed by the people following Hinduism. It is the longest and the most auspicious festival which lies in the month of September or October. This festival is mainly celebrated by Hindus of Nepal as Dashain and by the Hindus of India as Dashera.|
This festival is also known as Bada Dasain, Vijaya Dashami etc. It is also called as Durga Puja in some parts of India. This festival is not only the longest festival of the Hindus but also the most important and anticipated festival of the Hindus. Though this festival is celebrated for fifteen days, the first day, seventh day, eighth day, nineth day and the tenth day are taken as the important days.
During this festival, the manifestations or forms of Hindu Goddess Durga are worshipped with many offerings and sacrifices of different animals like goats, buffaloes, hens, ducks etc. Since this is the greatest festival of Hindus, all the members of the family gather and enjoy with each other. They get new clothes, ornaments, assets etc. in this festival. Mainly boys fly kites during this festival. People also enjoy by playing in swings made up of bamboo. Many people engage in gambling too. In this festival, the juniors get blessings and Tika with Jamara from their seniors. In Nepal, all the government offices, schools, colleges, financial institutions etc. remain closed during this period.
This festival has a great significance of victory of good over evil powers. This festival commemorates the victory of gods and goddesses over the demons and devils. Once upon a time, a demon named Mahishasura had terrorized heaven and earth. He could switch his body from human form to buffalo, so he was named as Mahishasura which is the combination of two Sanskrit words i.e., ‘Mahisha’ and ‘asura’. Here the word ‘Mahisha’ refers to buffalo and ‘asura’ refers to demon. He had even conquered heaven after defeating the King of Heaven, Lord Indra. So it was very much necessary to defeat and destroy him once and for all. So, all the saints and gods prayed which gave rise to the powerful goddess Durga. After a fierce battle, goddess Durga killed Mahishasura and in this way she stopped the terror in heaven and earth. The first nine days of Dashain resemble the days of battle between Mahishasura and goddess Durga. The tenth day symbolizes the day when goddess Durga got victory over Mahishasura. The Shakta Hindus take this day as the day of victory of goddess Durga over Mahishasura whereas the Non-Shakta Hindus take this day as the day of victory of lord Ram over the demon Ravana. Ram and Ravana are the characters of the epic Hindu story Ramayana. Even the Buddhists commemorate this day as the day when Emperor Ashoka of India abandoned violence and war.
The descriptions of the important days of Dashain are given below:
- Day 1 (Ghatasthapana): Ghatasthapana is the first day of Dashain. This is the day from which the beginning of Dashain is marked. On this day, the people plant Jamara into a pot filled with soil. Then it is covered by another pot after the completion of worshipping process. This same Jamara is later used on the tenth day of Dashain with Tika.
- Day 7 (Phulpati): Phulpati is one of the important day of Dashain. During the Monarch Rule in Nepal, Phulpati (Tika, Jamara and other items required) used to be brought from Gorkha Palace (the ancestral home of the Royal Family) to the Hanumandhoka Palace of Kathmandu. In Hanumandhoka palace, the members of the Royal Family used to get Tika and Jamara. But now, the Phulpati is taken to the residence of the Prime Minister since he is taken as the ruler of the nation, not the King. The Hindu people generally visit temples on this day. Similarly, the Newars of Bhaktapur take this day as the day for bringing meat and having meat.
- Day 8 (Maha Astami): The eighth day of Dashain is known as Maha Astami. On this day, the blood thirsty form of goddess Durga, Kaali is worshipped with the sacrifices of fowls, buffaloes etc. This day is also known as Kaal Ratri (Black Night).
- Day 9 (Maha Nawami): Maha Nawami is the nineth day of Dashain and the last day of Nawaraatri. This day is also called as the day of demon-hunting because the members of almost defeated demon army tried to save themselves by hiding inside the bodies of animals and fowls. On this day, lord Vishwakarma, the god of creativeness is also worshipped. Along with him, the equipments, tools, machines, vehicles etc. are also worshipped. The gates of Taleju Temples of the whole country are opened on this day.
- Day 10 (Vijaya Dashami): Vijaya Dashami is the tenth and the most important day of Dashain which symbolizes the defeat of the demons. On this day, a mixture or combination of vermilion (अबिर), rice and yogurt is prepared which is known as Tika. This Tika is a part of Vijaya Dashami. On this day, the elders offer blessings, Tika and Jamara to their young ones with Dakshina (money). In return, the young ones also provide gifts to the elders. They also have feasts. Before the end of Monarch system in Nepal, the people used to visit Royal Palace for receiving Tika, Jamara and blessings from the King who is considered as an incarnation of lord Vishnu.
After the tenth day, the people visit their relatives to receive Tika and Jamara with blessings. They have feasts too which consist of many delicious food items or dishes. After the completion of this festival, the government offices, educational institutions, industries etc. get resumed.