Dashain Festival of Nepal INTRODUCTION Dashain is the biggest festival in Nepal. Dashain is celebrated by Nepalese people with great excitement. It is normally in the month of October but sometimes in late September. This festival is the longest and the most important of all festivals in Nepal. It falls in the best time of the year when fruits, vegetables and other foods are in plenty. And, all animals are well fed and healthy. It is said that Dashain is a celebration of the victory of the gods over the wicked demons.

More sophisticated people think it as a message that good will always wins over bad in the end. And, we all should stand on the side of the good even when the bad side may look to be stronger. THE PREPARATION Before the first day of Dashain starts, people clean their houses, clean up the barns, paint white and red colours on the walls, paint the windows, repair the Aangan, repair the barns and trails in the villages, and paint the temples, schools and shelters with white clay. They buy new clothes, lots of food and spices.

Then the celebration begins. THE FIFTEEN DAYS OF DASHAIN The fifteen days are said to mark the various events in the war between the gods and the demons. These fifteen days of Dashain are celebrated as follows: * Day 1: Ghastapana: It is the first day of moon and represents the start of the battle. All weapons and tools in the households are gathered, cleaned and put in a room where Goddess Durga’s worship is commenced. Seeds of corn and barley are planted in a large planter of leaves and kept in dark in the worship room.

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These seeds would have grown to be yellow seedlings (Jamara) by the ninth day, when they are offered to Vishwa Karma and to all worshippers on the tenth day. * Day 2-7: Dwitia to Saptami: Represent the continuation of the battle. * Day 8: Ashtami: Animals are sacrificed in the temples of Goddess Durga asking for her help to win the battle. * Day 9: Nawami: People worship Durga in mass. Everyone goes to temple of Durga. Also Vishwa Karma (god of creativity) is worshipped at the room where all tools and weapons were kept and the tools are finally released from the room.

All machinery like sewing machine, cars, carts and grinding mills are stopped and offerings are made to Vishwa Karma asking to protect from accidents and mishaps. This day signifies that everyone gets ready for the final battle. * Day 10: Vijaya Dasami: Goddess Durga defeats demon Mahishasur. Good finally wins over the bad. Victory is celebrated with exchanges of blessings and best possible food one can afford. Elders in the family give blessings to the young and put Tika and Jamara on their forehead. People are supposed to pay honor to and get blessings from the all surviving elders in the family clan.

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All people seem to be on the move as they try to visit as many relatives as possible to collect the most possible blessings. * Day 11-14: Ekadashi – Chaturthi: These days are for visiting elders that were too far to visit on the tenth day. Also if some difficulties prevented us from reaching home and elders. So Tika continues throughout Dashain. * Day 15: Purnima or Kojagrat Purnima: Dashain ends on the day of full-moon. On this day, people stay at home and rest. Laxmi (the goddess of wealth) is worshiped on this date. People are now ready to work and acquire virtue, power and wealth.

In Dashain, you want a tika from an older person in your family or from anyone. You want to receive blessings from as many wellwishers as you can. First you start in your family. The oldest person in your family gives Tika and blessings to the youngest then the second youngest and so on. Anticipation, fun, hope, blessings and friendship come to you in Dashain, especially when you are close to your relatives and friends, and not in a far-away land and alone. You still write to your relatives or call them if you can and get thier thoughts and blessings even when you are far-far-away!