Dashain Festival in Nepal
Dashain also known as vijaya Dashami (Nepali: विजया दशमी), Mhwoni (Newari: मोह्नी) or Durga puja is the biggest and longest hindu festival celebrated in Nepal.
It is celebrated in the month of Ashwin or Kartik(nepalese Calendar) which usually falls around late september- early October. It is a full 15 days long festival. The first day called Ghatasthapana lies on the first waxing moon of the month and ends on the first full moon called Kojagrat Purnima. Throughout the 15 days people worship the Hindu goddess Durga and all her manifestation.
Dashain is celebrated to commemorate the hindu goddess of power, Goddess Durga's victory over the demi water buffalo demon Mahishasura who, according to the epic Ramayan had been terrorising earth on his mission to annihilate all the Devas(gods). Dashain symbolised the victory of good over evil. The first nine days of Dashain symbolizes the fierce battle between the different manifestations of Durga and Mahishasur(demi water buffalo demon).
The first 9 days, also known as navaratri, people cleanse their homes and plant Jamara (a sacred yellow grass) on a earthen pot called Kalash, the kalash is filled with moistened. Sand and corn and barley seeds are planted. They are planted away from direct sunlight within a few days the seeds sprout short yellow grass, the Jamara. There are also parades performed by the Nepalese army in hanuman dhoka and Tundikhel. As well as animal sacrifice performed in temples.
On the ninth day the Taleju temple is opened for worship. The Taleju temple is only opened once a year on this occasion. All machines, vehicles, household items, like cars, hammer are also worshiped on this day. The tenth day known as Vijaya Dashami is especially important as it's the day Durga finally defeated the demon. On this day women prepare a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion powder called "Tika". The whole family including distant relatives gather together and the elders put tika and jamara( sacred yellow grass) on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them and also give dakshina (money). This continues for five days till the full moon giving enough time for family to visit every relatives and exchange gift greetings and well wishes
Dashain is celebrated throughout Nepal by all ethnicity, even non Hindus who don't participate in the worship. During the festive period all government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed. People go back to their families, people get together, cook and enjoy delicious feasts with family and friends, all shops offer festive discounts and people shop for new clothing for themselves and as gifts.
Since Nepal's 3 month long monsoon finally ends around dashain and the sky is clear and always windy children also fly kites and many kite battles take place. Throughout the country bamboo swings are constructed in each community park using only with ropes, bamboo, grass and sticks, these swings can be played by anyone but it mostly popular among younger children. These are special dashain swings that are dismantled immediately after dashain ends.
The weather during Dashain season is the best, after the monsoon finally ends its not too hot nor too cold. You can feel laid back festive atmosphere throughout the country making it an ideal time to visit Nepal. But because it is festival season many but not all shops and business including the service industry are close down as people focus entirely on enjoying the company of friends and family. Once busy roads of Kathmandu will be almost empty, on the streets you can see women walking wearing beautiful colourful sari and dresses.
We have special Dashain packages available so you can enjoy your stay in Nepal unaffected by the lack of business and shops and truly enjoy the festival with the rest of Nepal. There are many things you can do that are exclusively available during this time. You can also view dashain worship in the temples in Kathmandu Durbar Square or Go trekking to the nearby hill of Nagarkot or to Pokhara.