Happy Dashain. Dashain is the longest and the most important festival of Nepal. Generally Dashain falls in late September to mid October, right after the monsoon season in Nepal. Dashain gets many different nick names: Dasara, Bada Dashain, Vijaya Dashain, Durga Puja, all of which mean the same thing: Dashain, a day of Victory over Demons.
According to the legend, the bloodthirsty Goddess, Durga conquered evils on the Dashain day. Huge amounts of animal sacrifices take place during the festival in temples and in home to please the Goddess Durga. Much to the dislike of many non Hindu people.
The final day of the festival is known as `Tika’, a day on which the elder ones give `Tika’ to the younger ones and to other relatives who come for their houses for blessings. This happens during a simple but always beautiful ritual.
Dashain is big in Nepal because of many things:
Holidays – Rest and Relaxation for nearly 10 days! This is the longest festival in Nepal. It allows one to travel and be with family and friends for up to a week or more.
Shopping – On the occasion of the Dashain festival there is a lot of shopping to be done, specially for new clothes of everyone but yourself. In spite of hardships, during the festival season, Nepalese families almost always manage to shop if not for all, but at least for the children. Clothes are the best selling item during the season. Those who could not afford to wear even a single new item of clothes the entire year will now make it happen if it is the last thing they doe.
Dashain Bonus – The Nepali Government gives a bonus (usually one monthly salary) to its workers. Some private companies such as banks do the same. Farmers earn their bonus by selling their highly demanded fruit and vegatables and live-stock products in return for a good cash
Eating – During Dashain Nepali eat lots of meat, while most Hindus are vegatarian the rest of the year (not always out of principle, but for practical reasons: meat is expensive.) But sweets and fruits are popular as well. Dashain’s most popular meat are goat meat, sheep, buffalo, duck and chicken. Usually animals are bought live from the animal market and sacrificed at home or in temples. At home, the whole family is involved in cutting and preparing the meat which usually lasts for 2 to 3 day’s of feast.
Visiting – Meet your family and friends near and far. Dashain is also about forgiveness, kindness, respect and coming together of broken families. Cities suddenly seem to empty itself when more people returning back to theire villages or terai (lower, flat region of Nepal) than that of people joining families in cities. During this season the city rushes to book tickets, bus or plane!
Kites – Children love the season also for flying Kites. If you visit Kathmandu or any other city during this season, the day-sky is filled with colourful kites like shinning stars in the night!
Tika and Love – Giving and receiving tika and respect. Getting a tika from an older person in your family, relatives or from anyone is a blessing. Dashain tika begins with the oldest person in your family giving tika to the youngest, then the second youngest in the family and so on. Faith, hope, inspiration and blessings, all come alive in Dashain.
Money Notes – stacks of notes to give away! Receive a tika and offer money notes as an appreciation. Popular Dashain notes are those of 2, 5, 10 and 25 rupees. Everybody tries to exchange for smaller and new notes, so banks are usually busy during the season.
Cleaning – Clean and decorate homes. Walls get a new coat of paint, roads are cleaned better than before, temples are decorated with lights, villagers join together to clean and build new trails, paint their homes using red-coloured mud. People clean themselves mentally too by visiting various temples and worshiping during the festival.
Puja – Worshiping God for Peace and Prosperity. Various pujas are performed from beginning to the end of Dashain.
Gambling – although not legal in Nepal, but it happens. Playing cards are popular during Dashain. Usually between family members and friends.
Fairs and Celebration – rides, eat, play games, be with friends! Village children ride on Ferris wheels and swings built using traditional methods (ropes made from tough grass, bamboo sticks and wood). Commercial fairs and celebration events are organised in cities.