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Dashain is Nepal’s most important and longest-observed Hindu religious festival. Dashain often occurs in September or October, immediately following the monsoon season. Dashain is known by several various names, including Bada Dashain, Vijaya Dashami, and Durga Puja. All of these names refer to the same.
Legend has it that on the Vijaya Dashami day, the vengeful Goddess Durga vanquished evil. During the festival, a significant amount of animals are sacrificed in homes and temples to honour the Goddess Durga. The last day of the celebration is referred to as “Tika,” and it is on this day that the older people offer Tika to the younger people and other family members who have come to seek their blessings.
1ST DAY – GHATASTHAPANA:
Dashain’s first day, Ghatasthapana, marks the start of the 10 days long major festival in Nepal. A clay pot is filled with sand and mud after a puja is finished, and barley seeds are added there at the designated time by astrologers. Up until the very final day of Dashain, the pot is kept out of the sun’s direct light and conducted a puja every night. During Dashami, yellow barley sprouts (Jamara) are removed from the pot and placed behind the ear or entangled in hairs, and a Tika of colored rice (red/white) is placed in one’s forehead as a blessing from God.
7TH DAY – FULPATI:
On the seventh day of the Bada Dashain festival, a variety of flowers, leaves, and fruits from various plants that are believed to be auspicious are anointed at the Dashain Ghar. In accordance with Vedic rituals, the Fulpati is carried from the Royal Gorkha Palace to Kathmandu to be anointed at the Dashain Ghar, Hanumandhoka Durbar. In the evening, they are taken to the Royal Palace with a large parade.
8TH DAY – MAHA ASTHAMI:
Eighth day of Vijaya Dashami is known as Maha Aasthami. Nava Durga Bhawani and Goddess Kali are venerated on this day with high dedication. This day’s night is known as Kal Ratri; it is gloomy and dark. A enormous number of sacrifices of goats, hens, sheeps and buffaloes are made to the bloodthirsty Kali Goddess and Nava Durga on temples and households. The puja continues with the celebration of Maha Aasthami with the huge feast for families and friends.
9TH DAY – NAWAMI:
A day before the actual Dashain, today is the ninth day, also known as Navami. Only on this day each year, the Taleju temple at Hanuman Dhoka is available to the public. Numerous people go to honor the goddess on this day. Goddess Bhawani temple is crowded with worshippers from sunrise until dusk. On this day, Hanuman Dhoka’s Kot courtyard is the site of the official military sacrifices.
Hundreds of tourists and diplomats anxiously assemble here to observe this ceremony since the government permits foreigners to do so. Hundreds of animals, primarily black buffaloes, are sacrificed to Goddess Durga, the goddess of power and triumph, in order to obtain her grace. Guns roar, military bands play battle music, and officers in full uniform with exquisitely decorated medals stand there. When the event is over, the courtyard is covered in blood to the ankles. The God of creativity, Vishwas Karma, is also revered on this day.
We idolize all of our factories, cars, machines, instruments, and other sources of income. In order to obtain goddess Durga’s blessing and her promise to shield vehicles and the people inside them from accidents throughout the year, we also offer sacrifices to all forms of moving machinery like as trucks, cars, and airplanes.
10TH DAY – VIJAYA DASHAMI:
The Vijaya Dashami falls on the tenth day. On this day, we receive the elders’ blessing and take Tika – Jamara. While our younger family members come to our home to receive blessings from us, we visit our olders in their homes and receive tika from them. The significance of Dashain is also derived from the fact that on this day, family members from far and far-off relatives visit and come to get tika from the family head. This process lasts for four days. Additionally, His Majesty accepts tika from the royal priests before giving it to his devoted subjects. His Majesty the King also gives tika to thousands of devoted Nepalis and foreigners because it is believed to be auspicious. Dashain concludes on the fifteenth day, which is the full moon day, after four days spent running around and visiting with family.
People rest at home on the final day. The word “Kojagrata” (Who is Awake) is another name for the full moon day. Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is revered. The goddess Laxmi receives an invitation to visit everyone on this day. After Dashain, everything returns to normal throughout the country. After gaining the Goddess Durga’s blessing, individuals are prepared to labor and achieve virtue, power, and wealth. Thus, of all of Nepal’s festivals, Dashain is not only the longest but also the one that people look forward to the most.
TIHAR (FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS)
Tihar, a holiday celebrated in Nepal, is also referred to as Dipawali and festival of lights. After the Dashain Festival, a five-day festival called Tihar is celebrated. During this time, people worship a variety of animals, including cows, dogs, and crows, as well as the Hindu Goddess of Wealth (Goddess Laxmi). They also prepare delicious meals at home, go gift-shopping with their siblings, decorate their homes and streets, play cards with friends, and spend time resting and relaxing. The festival is then concluded by the exchange of Tika. Tika Day, sometimes referred to as Bhai Tika Day, is the final day of the celebration. Tihar is the holiday when sisters wish their brothers (Bhai) a long life, to sum it up. Every year, this event strengthens your link with the person you designated your sister or brother for life.
1ST DAY – KAG/CROW PUJA:
The family cooks a delicious breakfast early in the morning on the first day of Tihar. The first serving of the breakfast is taken outdoors by each family member on a tray. Crows flock to the feast in vast numbers, calling out to others before they start eating. In Nepali, Crows are known as “Kag,” and they are thought to be the messenger’s of Lord of Death Yama. Crows are also the subject of a well-known superstition in Nepal: melancholy is on the way when the crow crows. Crows are venerated and kept content on this day. Any avian of the heavens will partake in the feast where there are no crows.
2ND DAY – KUKUR/DOG PUJA:
On the second day of Tihar, Kukur (Dogs) are treated like royalty and given lavish meals in addition to a flower garland around their necks and a scarlet tika on their forehead. People ask the Kukur to protect their homes on this day in a prayer. Many Kukur are scurrying around looking for a loving home. Tihar is also about pushing over the limitations that only mankind have imposed, including “The Good,” “The Bad,” “The Ugly,” and everything else except for Mother Nature.
3RD DAY – GAI/COW PUJA:
On the third day of Tihar, cows are worshipped as the universe’s mother. Hinduism holds that the human woman should breastfeed her child during the first three years of its life. After weaning, the cow serves as the substitute mother, giving humans milk throughout the remainder of their lives, including during childhood, adolescence, and old age. Cows are the sacred animal of the Hindus. Giving a cow a Tika on her forehead, a flower garland around her neck, and delicious food are all part of doing the Cow puja. Those who perform cow pujas spread her manure about their homes and purify themselves by drinking a few drops of the cows’ pee. To get closer to the cow, the mother of the universe, dip a blade of grass into the urine and lightly sprinkle it on each other’s bodies.
4TH DAY – LAXMI PUJA:
Laxmi Puja is one of the most significant days of the celebration, when the Goddess of Wealth (Laxmi) is honored throughout the entire Nepali Kingdom in every home through Puja, décor, candlelight, and oil lamps. The third day of the Tihar Festival sees the entire country lit up with lights. A Puja chamber has images and iconography of the goddess Laxmi Devi, who is worshipped there (or a place in a living room or a dedicated room for worshiping Gods) flowers, incense, oil lamps, color powders, bells, and money are used at pujas. Laxmi puja is performed at sunset with red mud, and the puja is usually performed by a female in the family. She creates a path going to the Puja room and leaves a symbolic foot print on the floor of the house with her hand painted crimson.
Laxmi puja is performed not just by families but also by businesses. The same procedures used for Laxmi-Puja at home are used for business. The workplace is typically illuminated with electricity, candle, and oil lamps during the puja, which is typically performed by the manager of the business. Typically, the staff is also invited to join the puja procession.
MHA PUJA – SPECIAL DAY OF NEWAR COMMUNITY (CELEBRATED ON 4TH DAY):
The fourth day of Tihar is also a day for self-worship. The Newar community refers to this puja (worship) as Mahapuja. This day also marks the start of the Newar ethnic group’s unique annual calendar, which is kept in Nepal. In Tihar, a new year’s celebration is also held. The Govardhan puja, also known as Goru Tihar, is another well-known ceremony of the day (Oxen Worshiping). On this day, oxen are worshipped because they cultivate soil and assist in growing crops that support life.
5TH DAY – BHAI TIKA:
On the last day, also known as Bhai Tika, sisters present their brothers with tika (colored powder applied to the forehead), a mala (flower necklace, also known as flower garlands), and well wishes for longevity and success.
Tihar is also a moment for sisters to recall their ongoing wishes for their brothers to live long and prospering lives. Brothers watch sisters perform their puja from a seat on the floor. Sisters circle brothers three times while pouring oil from a copper pitcher onto the floor as part of the puja ritual. Sisters then apply oil to their brother’s hair and ears before offering Tika. Another popular practice involves sisters smashing walnuts before offering Tika to brothers. Tika begins with placing a banana leaf that has already been cut into a line shape on the brother’s forehead while being held by one of the sisters.
Next, a rice paste-based tika base is applied in the empty space. Then, sister uses her fingers to dab seven colors on top of the base. Some people may apply tika without the use of banana leaves, using a little stick. Following tika, the brother’s neck is wrapped with flowers. Then, in a similar manner, brothers present tika to sisters. Additionally, sisters are offered a flower necklace. A wonderful Tihar feast is held, and brothers give their sisters gifts like clothing or money while sisters give a special gift called Sagun (made of dried fruits, nuts, pan and candy). Those who don’t have sisters or brothers can attend tika with family or friends. Sisters offer the Hindu God of Death prayers for the long life of their brothers (Yam Raj).
OTHER MAIN FESTIVALS OF NEPAL
JANUARY – SWETA MACHHENDRANATH SNAN
During a week-long ceremony, the Sweta (white) Machhendranath is bathed, oiled, and painted. He receives a visit from the goddess Kumari at this ornate shrine close to Asan Tol. Music, sacrifices, and prayers for rain during planting season all satisfy this god.
JANUARY – MAGHE SANKRANTI
This event is held in honor of the god Vishnu, who is revered for his role in expanding and warming the days starting in the Magh month of the Nepali calendar. Devotees bathe in sacred waters and consume pulao (rice cooked with lentils, dried fruits, and peas). On the first day of the Magh Month, this celebration is celebrated.
JANUARY – FEBRUARY – SWASTHANI
At this event, adoration is offered to the goddess Swasthani, who is revered as the greatest gift-giver. The myth states that Parbati may only marry Lord Shiva after worshiping Swasthani. every house
FEBRUARY – LOSAR
The Sherpas and Tibetans celebrate this festival to welcome the upcoming year. During this time, one may see family gatherings, performances, music, and dances in monasteries, as well as vibrant prayer flags adorning the streets and rooftops.
MARCH – MAHA SHIVARATRI
For two to three days prior to the celebration, the Pashupatinath temple, also known as Lord Shiva’s temple, is always crowded with worshippers. One will find it nearly hard to reach the Pashupatinath temple on that day because it is extremely packed! People celebrate the day by going to the Pashupatinath temple, and offering flowers, smoking marijuana, drinking, and dancing. Sadhus, who are a recreation of Lord Shiva, spend the day eating treats and smoking marijuana.
MARCH – FAGU PURNIMA OR HOLI
The festival of colors is called Holi. When walking on the streets, cover your clothing! Despite the holiday only lasting one day, the fever begins seven days in advance. It’s all about dousing people with color and water. Balloons that have been loaded with color powder and water are frequently thrown at people to make a splash. On the festival’s final day, youth like covering their faces and chests completely with paint or other decorations.
APRIL – CHAITRA DASHAIN
Chaitra Dashain is celebrated to commemorate Rawan’s defeat by the Lord Rams. Puja is performed by devotees at the RAM and Durga temples.
APRIL – GHODE JATRA (A GREAT FESTIVAL OF HORSES)
To appease the demon that is thought to be buried beneath Tundikhel’s soil, a military meeting is held with the heads of state. The Jatra is just a Nepalese Army stunt that includes show-jumping, motorcycle riding, horseback riding, gymnastics, and skydiving.
APRIL – BISKET JATRA
Communities in and around Bhaktapur reenact a drama that has been handed down from one generation to the next. The play is about giving up things for satisfying things.
MAY – BUDDHA JAYANTI
Lumbini is a beautifully endowed piece of land from nature. The Lord Buddha was born there. The birth, enlightenment, and salvation of the Lord are commemorated across Nepal on a full moon day in the month of May. Large numbers of people visit Swayambhu and Boudhanath Stupas during this event. Buddhist structures known as stupas typically house relics of the Lord Buddha.
JUNE – RATO MACHHINDRANATH JATRA
A rain god is named Rato (Red) Macchindranath. The Kathmandu valley was an agricultural region in antiquity. This gathering celebration (Jatra) is dedicated to God in the hopes that it will rain during the monsoon season.
JULY – AUGUST – GUNLA
Buddhists observe this event when the monsoon has begun to fall and the rice has been planted. This is a long-standing celebration that the Buddha started 25 centuries ago. Prayers, fasting, taking drugs, and religious music all have their moments during this one-month holiday.
AUGUST – JANAI PURNIMA AND RAKSHA BANDHAN
It is also the time to tie Raksha, a red or yellow thread thought to have protective properties, around wrists. Both Hindus and Buddhists switch the sacred thread (Janai) worn on the neck slipping from the right to left hands.
SEPTEMBER – GAI JATRA
This holiday season is a good time to both commemorate and comfort those who have passed away. In English, the word “Gai” means “cow.” The goddess of riches, the cow, is revered as carrying the souls of the dead to the gates of the underworld. The real motive for this festival’s celebration is to share in one another’s grief and find solace in knowing that one’s lost loved ones are secure.
Newspapers and periodicals regularly publish cartoons, jokes, and satire. Most of these jokes refer to the nation’s political climate over the past year. On this humor day, the press and media feel like publishing pretty much anything!
SEPTEMBER – TEEJ (FESTIVAL OF NEPALESE WOMEN)
A holiday dedicated to women only, during which they perform puja, worship Lord Shiva, and observe a day of fasting in order to obtain long marriages and strong bonds of love. In the crossroads or at the Pashupati temple, women dance and sing while wearing red saris. Shiva’s and the Lord’s wife, Goddess Parbati, blessings guarantee a strong and happy family life.
SEPTEMBER – INDRA JATRA
This celebration is held right after the monsoon to give thanks to the gods for providing the Kathmandu valley with an adequate amount of rain. In the Kathmandu durbar plaza, there is a huge party and Jatra.
NOVEMBER – MANI RIMDU FESTIVAL
The Sherpa in the Everest region observe a five-day festival. The festivities include singing, mask-wearing dances, and prayers. The purpose of the meeting is “the betterment of the world.” During this holiday season, trips to Mount Everest are quite rewarding.
NOVEMBER – BIBAH PANCHAMI
This holiday commemorates the union of Lord Ram and Sita. The Ram and Sita marriage ritual is reenacted on stage throughout the festival, which can last up to 7 days. This performance takes place in rural, urban, and suburban settings. The most well-known Hindu epic of all time, Ramayan, features Sita and its hero, Ram.