What is Dashain festival & how it is celebrated?
The Dashain Word & Meaning
The other names are Vijaya Dashami, Mohani, Dussehra, etc. The word Dashain is spell as Dassai (The Shai). Dashain is written as दशै in the Nepali language or Devnagiri script. Dashain comes from the word “Das” & ‘ai” ending with Sirbindu / Anushwor symbol ( ं) ie. दशै = द + शै + ं While ‘ं’ may be invisible while writing, unlike Chandrabindu ( ँ). The equivalent word for Dashain in the English language in Tenth.
However, the Tenth is spelled Dhashau or Dasham in regular practice. Dashain or Dasham defines all the 10 days festivals. Bada Dashain or Vijaya Dashami refers only to the 10th day of this festival. Bada Dashain or Vijaya Dashami refers to the big celebration day or the 10th day of victory over evil.
The Dashain festival is celebrated in 10 days. The ten days of Dashain are as follows:
- Phulpati / Shiva Ratri
- Maha Ashtami / Kal Ratri
- Maha Navami / Durga Puja
- Bada Dashain or Bijaya Dashami
- Kojagrat Purnima
Dashain Festival Celebrations
I have collected the purpose of these 10 days referencing with my own experiences, Grandmother’s saying and have not taken references from the internet but from our religious scriptures at home only. These explanations are the exact definition of how we celebrate Dashain here in Nepal.
Day 1: Ghatasthapana (The Kalash Day)
In simple word, Ghatasthapan means to establish a Vase. Ghata means Vase and Asthapana means to establish. To establish vase here is used in the sense we set foundation during the construction of any building. So, on Day 1 (for the later purpose of Day 9), we place a Kalash somewhere in the religious sittings of our home.
A Kalash is a religious vase in which holy water is placed inside with some flowers, Bell Patra (leaves), and a coconut covering. Since, many years, I have not seen Coconuts being used. The word Ghat comes from the word Ghad which means a water vessel or some pot where there is water. In the night, seeds of Gahu (Wheat), Makai (Maize) and Jau (Barely) are soaked in water and left overnight.
Day 2: Dwitiya (The Jamara Day)
Dwitiya simple means the second in English. On the second day, a good soil bed is prepared the mixed seeds are sowed. This ritual is performed after moonrise only. The exact team used is ‘Hashiya/Aashi Chandrama’ which in English means ‘Sickle Moon” itself. The meaning behind this crescent shape is that it marks the end of Aaushi and the start of the Sukla Paksha.
Day 3: Tritya (The Kot Bhavani Day)
Kot means Gadh or the fortified place or more precisely says a religious citadel that protects the ancestral strength provided to the modern-day people. 🙂 Bhavani means the avatar of Goddess Parvati in the form of Durga. On this day, an idol of the goddess Durga is placed and is done Prana Pratista. Prana Pratista means giving an object a life. This symbolizes that the Murti (idol) placed in the temple of Kot is regarded as a living form of God. Because in Hindusim only the physical form of God can protect is widely accepted but due to our inability to see/feel him, such practice was carried out after performing a devotee rituals. But, nowadays people just set up idols and worship without knowing. Some even sacrifice animals which is totally the superstition as it was supposed to sacrifice the animalistic nature not the animals.
Day 4: Chathurti/Chauthi (The Fourth day)
Worshiping of Durga Bhawani is done plus cleaning of the houses. People start building Linge Ping (a swing).
Day 5: Panchami (The Fifth Day)
Same as dat 4 plus preparation of religious foodstuffs
Day 6: Sasti (The Sixth Day)
Durga Puja is done and flowers, leaves, etc are collected.
Day 7: Phulpati / Shiva Ratri
The day is observed as Phulpati (Fulpati) and the night is Shiva Ratri. This day the flowers, leaves, fruits, tika, and food are sent from the Kot to the individual/home. Especially eating prasad send from Kot in banana leaves. At night, Shiva is worshipped and bhajan (singing religious songs and hymns) is performed.
Day 8: Maha Ashtami (The Great Eight Day) / Kal Ratri (The Black Night)
On this day the goddess Durga is worshiped in the form of Eight Shaktis known as Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda. On that day, It has been seen people sacrificing animals in the name of Goddess Kali and satisfying their tongue only. The goddess Kali had killed the demons and sacrificed them so that they can merge back to Mahakal meaning to escape them from Samsara. This does not mean we are allowed to kill innocent animals. People also, do worship mechanical tools.
Vedas and Manu Smiritu do not support the killing of animals. Reference: Manu Smriti 5.52 There is no greater sinner than that (man) who, though not worshipping the gods or the manes, seeks to increase (the bulk of) his own flesh by the flesh of other (beings)
Day 9: Maha Navami (The Durga Puja)
On this day the Kalash prepared during Ghatasthapana is believed to be blessed with goddess Durga. Also, it is believed Durga Bhawani comes alive inside the vase. People also do Bishwakarma puja for Vehicles, instruments, etc on this day. The night is called the Navaratri meaning the ninth night.
Day 10: Vijaya Dashami (The Victory & Tika Day)
The tenth day of the Dashain festival is called Vijaya Dashami or the tenth-day victory. Vijaya means to win over/ victory and Dashami means the tenth. This day is marked as the victory day of good over evil. The theme of the day is; whatever the situation is the goodwill always wins at the end of the day. So a grand celebration is held, and a feast is organized. people spread all over the wold visit ancestral home, do a grand gathering, share happiness, play games and enjoy every possible means.
Tika & Jamara
Tika is started on Shait only. The Yellow Jamara on the ears and big red tikas on the forehead make the day more joyful. Tika & Jamara is the main attraction that can be seen in every corner of Nepal. :0
Laddu, Selroti, Yoghurt, sweets, fruits and delicious food are exchanged among neighborhoods too.
Gifts & Cash
Family members visit each other house and take tika and blessings from elders. Girls and boys are given gifts and some cash. Girls get more gifts and cash than boys. It’s time to enjoy the Linge Ping (swing) too.
Eat as much as you can as the next day you have to fast. 🙁
Day 11: Ekadashi (The Fasting Day)
This day is observed as a fasting day and also a day to clean house and take rest from last night’s tiredness.
Day 12: Duwadahsi
It includes the celebration with families who missed the tenth day. As usual tika and blessings rituals are performed.
Day 13: Tryodasi
Same as Day 12
Day 14 – Chaturdasi
Same as day 12 plus Puja.
Day 15: Kojagrat Purnima (The Full Moon Day)
Kojagrat means the one who is awake and Purnima means the full moon day. The Purnima now marks the end of all Dashain days. From Day 10 to Day 15, it is celebrated in a similar fashion.
Offer Seasons / Discounts
Dashain & Tihar collectively is regarded as an offer season. Here is a trend of providing massive discounts during these festivals.
Dashain in Conclusion
Dashain or also known as Bada Dashain is one of the major festivals of Nepal celebrate by Hindus, Buddhist, and Kirat religions. The first day starts from Ghatasthapana to Vijaya Dashami extending to Kojagrat Purnima. This festival is the celebration of victory over evil. The main message of Dashain is Goodness always wins & truth always wins. So never forget to stay with the truth no matter what situation life throws on you. You will always win because you are fighting with all of your goodness and truthfulness.
Happy Vijaya Dashami to all of you!