Dashain Festival – The Most Auspicious Festival of Nepal, representing the Rich Cultural and Traditions

Book Himalayas Author Book Himalayas
Update on: May 12, 2023

Introduction of Dashain Festival

Tika Jamara during Dashain Festival in Nepal
Tika Jamara during Dashain Festival in Nepal

Dashain festival is the biggest and longest-running festival for Hindus, especially in Nepal. People across Nepal and various states in India celebrate it with huge excitement.

This festival resembles the win of good over evil demons. It carries a powerful message of unity, togetherness, love, and peace worth embracing.

Dashain festival reminds us to embrace values and celebrate together as a community. As per the Nepali Bikram Sambat calendar, people celebrate it from Ashwin to Kartik.

In this festival, devotees worship nine different appearances of the goddess Durga. The festival begins with Ghatasthapana and continues until Kojagrat Purnima.

The Dashain festival involves receiving tika and blessings from elders. The Tradition of receiving tika and blessings continues from Dashami to Kojagrat Purnima.

History of Dashain Festival

According to ancient Sanskrit books, the demon Mahishasura, king of the Asuras, worshipped God Brahma for years.

God Brahma was well impressed by the devotion of Mahishasura and blessed him a boon of ‘no god or a man can kill him’. God Brahma was so impressed that he immediately gave the boon as Mahisashura asked.

After getting a boon from the creator of the universe, he began a war against the gods. Despite their best efforts, the gods proved ineffective in their battles against Mahishasura. The Mahisahur won the battle and sat on the throne of heaven.

The Gods were aware that only a woman could defeat Mahishasura. But, there were no powerful women in the universe capable of killing the demon.

So, the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, requested Goddess Durga to take an avatar and save the universe from the slavery of Mahisashura.

Goddess Durga received divine weapons from the Gods. Goddess Durga received divine weapons from the Gods. Vishnu gave her the Chakra, Shiva gave her the Trident, and Brahma her a thunderbolt.

Durga sat on Tiger and went to heaven to battle with Mahisashura.

Durga Puja at Dashain
Durga Puja during Dashain Festival

Mahisashura somehow knew that Goddess Durga was challenging him to fight against him. But Mahishasura sent a marriage proposal to Goddess Durga. In response, she said that she was already married to Lord Mahadev.

Goddess Durga warned Mahisashura for the last time to leave heaven for good. Mahishasura, in his arrogance, sent his army to battle with Goddess Durga. But they were all defeated in seconds.

Knowing that Mahisashura himself came to fight against Goddess Durga. The battle between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura lasted for nine days. On the tenth day, Goddess Durga defeated Mahishasura and ended the war. It was the win of good over evil.

The entire universe rejoiced in this triumph over the demon. They hailed it as the victory of light prevailing over darkness.

The celebrating trend continued till now and called as Dashain festival.

Dashain Festival in Nepal

In Nepal, the Dashain festival stands as the grandest occasion for family togetherness. During this festival, people visit their relatives to receive tika and blessings from their elders. This festival resembles the win of good over evil.

More than 3.5 million Nepalese work in foreign countries to sustain their families. Dashain is the primary reason for their return to Nepal. It carries them home to celebrate the festival with their family and friends.

The Dashain festival occurs from Ashoj to Kartik on the Nepalese calendar. Likewise, it falls between September and October on the English calendar.

The government provides holidays for schools and colleges for over a month. Also, the companies and government offices provide longer holidays in Nepal. They do it to ease the celebration of the Dashain festival.

Ping Swing during Dashain Festival in Nepal
Ping Swing during Dashain Festival in Nepal

History of Dashain in Nepal

Hinduism was first introduced in Nepal in the time around 2000 BC from the Indus Valley via a sage called Ne. According to old sculptures, Dashain started celebrating in the year 1300s.

As per Historical evidence, the Malla King Nipendra Malla and the King of Gorkha established their friendship. This significant event occurred on the auspicious day of Dashain Tika in 1678 A.D.

Dashain is one of the most celebrated festivals in Hindu mythology, along with Holi and Tihar. This festival is the longest-running festival, celebrated for two weeks.

The first day of the Dashain festival, known as “Ghatasthapana,” marks the beginning of the festivities. This is when devotees plant “Jamara,” which will be used along with Tika on the tenth day of the festival.

In the Hindu tradition, people worship nine different forms of the goddess Durga over nine nights, which is called Navaratri. People refer to the time between Navaratri as Nauratha.

Brief introduction about the religious significance of Nepal

Nepal lies on the lap of the great Himalayas. It is adorned with a diverse array of religious and cultural elements.

This holy place is home to over ten different religions. These include Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Kirat, Christianity, Prakriti, Bon, Jainism, Bahai, and Sikhism.

Nepal has enjoyed a peaceful religious history without any conflicts. This is attributed to the acceptance of religious tolerance and unity in diversity among the population. According to the constitution of Nepal 2015, Nepal was called a secular country.

Among the diverse range of religions, Hinduism holds a prominent position in Nepal. With a population of over 28.6 million, it makes up around 80% of the total population.

People generally refer to Hinduism as “Sanatan Dharma,” indicating its status as the oldest religion in the universe.

According to Hindu mythology, the Hindu religion has a very ancient history, even before the evolution of the universe.

The existence of the entire universe is attributed to the Trimurti. God Brahma is known as the creator, God Vishnu as the preserver, and God Shiva as the destroyer.

The ten days of the Dashain Festival:

1. Ghatasthapana

Ghata means ‘pot’ and sthapana means ‘to establish’, hence Ghatasthapana means to establish a holy pot. Dashain arrives on the day of Ghatasthapana after placing a Kalash with holy water as a symbol of God Durga.

On the same day, ‘Jamara’ is planted with barley seeds in a holy ‘Dhaki’ and grown for nine nights. Kalash( a pot filled with holy water) is placed in a room polished with cow dung along with Jamara seeds.

On the tenth day of the Dashain festival, which is also known as Bada Dashain, the elders place Jamara and Tika as part of the festival.

2. Brahmacharini

On the second day of Navaratri, people worship the goddess Brahmacharini and recite the mantras of Chandi.

Goddess Brahmacharini represents the unmarried and divine aspect of Mata Parwati. She adorns white attire and holds a Japamala (prayer beads) and a Kamandalu (water pot).

Brahmacharini embodies ascetic conduct and the pursuit of purity. She symbolizes a serene and blissful nature. People believe that worshiping Brahmacharini brings an increase in abstinence, virtues, and reclusion.

3. Chandraghanta

During the third night of Navaratri, known as ‘Tritiya’, people worship the Chandraghanta form of the goddess Durga.

Chandraghanta, a goddess in Hindu mythology, adorns a half-moon on her forehead, resembling a bell.

She is explained as the beauty incarnation of Parvati. The sound of moon bell on her forehead escapes all the spirits away from her devotee. It is said that she defeated the demons by ringing her bell sending millions of demons to death.

4. Goddess Kushumanda

During the fourth day of Dashain, known as ‘Chaturthi‘, people worship the goddess Kushmanda. She is revered as the goddess emanating energy from the center of the sun.

She is portrayed as the fourth aspect in Navadurga’s form, having 8 hands perching on a lioness.

Worshipping Goddess Kushmanda attracts wealth, strength, and good health to ancestors.

People believe that Goddess Kushmanda created the universe with a mere smile, giving birth to a cosmic egg. She transformed into the form of the sun, which is the source of life’s existence.

5. Skandamata

Skandamata is the fifth face of Goddess Durga, worshipped on the fifth day, ‘Panchami’ of Navaratri.

She is portrayed holding a baby named Skanda Kumar on her lap and carrying a lotus flower.

Worshipping Skandamata with pure devotion grants wisdom, even to the illiterate. Devotees believe in her transformative blessings.

6. Goddess Katyayani

On the sixth day; ‘Sasthi’ of the Dashain festival, Goddess Katyayani is worshipped. She is associated with the fierce Goddess Durga, portrayed as four, eight, or ten hands mounting on a tiger.

Worshiping Goddess Katyayani provides prosperity, sensual pleasure, and salvation.

Goddess Shakti took birth on earth as the daughter of Sage Katyayana. Her purpose was to end the reign of Mahishasura, as depicted in old sculptures.

She defeated Mahishasura in a ten-day battle. Her victory brought immense peace and prosperity to the land.

7. Kalaratri

Kalaratri is the seventh day of the Dashain festival. Kalaratriis, known as Goddess Sarawati, destroy ignorance and eliminates darkness.

People consider Kalaratri as the most powerful avatar of Goddess Durga. Goddess Kalaratri represents the destruction of evil power.

8. Maha-Astami

Maha-Astami, the eighth day of the Dashain festival, is dedicated to the worship of Kali, the fierce form of Goddess Durga.

Blood of various buffaloes, he-goats, and Hens is prayed on this day in Kali Mandir across the Hindu Community. The meat of blood offered animals is taken as ‘Prasad’ to this day.

9. Maha-Nahami

Maha-Nahami is the last day of Navaratri which is also called the nine battling days between Goddess Durga and Mahisasura. This day is also known as Demon hunting day.

The blood of animals is offered to Mata Kali as it is believed that members of defeated demons hide in the bodies of animals and fowls. On this day, Goddess Durga is worshipped, believing goodness always wins over badness.

10 Bijaya Dashami

The tenth day of the Dashain festival is called ‘Bijaya Dashami’. On this day, the mixture of rice, yogurt, and vermillion is made as Tika.

Nepal's Former President Bidya Devi Bhandari receiving Tika and Jamara
Nepal’s Former President Bidya Devi Bhandari receiving Tika and Jamara at Dashain Festival

Dashain Tika is offered on the right Tikatime, which varies yearly and is known as ‘SubhaSahit in Nepali.’

Bijaya Dashami is considered the biggest festival in Hindu mythology. This is the biggest occasion for family get-togetherness in Nepal. People who went abroad for work and study come back on this occasion.

People take Dashain Tika along with Jamara, which they plant on the first day of Dashain. According to Hindu mythology, elders put Tika along with Jamara on the forehead of juniors. This festival emits positivity increasing the brotherhood in the communities.

Dashain is taken as the festival that honors the win over evils by good. This festival also teaches the importance of togetherness, happy life, and prosperity.

Dashain last for five more dasya until “Kopjagrat Purnima’. During these five days, people travel to their relatives’ homes to put on tika and take blessings.

Kojagrat Purnima, the last day of Dashain festival inside Patan Durbar Square
Kojagrat Purnima (celebrating the last day of Dashain festival in Patan Durbar Square)

Dashain festivals activities

  • Elder puts Tika and Jamara on the forehead of the younger, chanting different Mantras.
  • Dashian used to be celebrated four times a year during the old days. But since it was not financially doable, it was reduced to one year.
  • Dashain festival is celebrated for 15 days, from the new moon to the full moon, named Kojagrat Purnima.
  • People travel to their relatives to put Tika and take blessings from their elders.
  • People fly kites, play Ping, and share their happiness, symbolizing unity and togetherness.
  • From Astami to Nawami, people offer the blood of various animals like young he-goats, hens, and ducks to Goddess Kali. This ritual symbolizes the defeat of demons who had taken the form of ducks, goats, and other animals to escape Goddess Kali during the battle.
  • From Ghatasthapana to Bada Dashain, Goddess Durga assumes the forms of nine different goddesses. Each form represents a different aspect of her power and is worshipped to symbolize the defeat of Mahishasura.
  • People decorate their homes with new paint and clean houses before the day of Phulpati as Goddess Durga will be established In every Hindu’s house.
  • Dashain is the festival to buy new clothes for the family. People visit relatives’ houses wearing new clothes for blessings.
  • People put tika till Kojagrat Purnima, also known as Full Moon Day. On this day, the Jamara, Tika, and all the Phulpati will be immersed in River, symbolizing the end of the Dashain festival.

Dashain Festival 2023 in Nepal:

The Dashain festival starts on Sunday, October 15th in 2023, with the observance of Ghatasthapana. Additionally, MahaAstami and MahaNahami will be celebrated on October 22 and 23.

This year, the day of Bada-Dashain, also known as Bijaya Dashami, will be on Tuesday, October 24th.

The Nepal Astronomical Society suggests that the ideal time for “SubhaSahit” is between 10:20 to 12:30. However, the exact timing is still being calculated by the society.

Book Himalayas Author Book Himalayas
Update on: May 12, 2023