Dashain is the biggest and most auspicious festival celebrated in Nepal. It is celebrated as the victory of good over evil. This auspicious festival is celebrated for 15 days in late September and early October. The victory of good over evil story is believed to be, according to Ramayan, where Lord Ram after a big struggle defeated Ravana, the fiendish king of demons. Thus, the festival is celebrated as a victory with great rejoice and the goddess Durga is worshiped throughout Nepal as a divine mother goddess.
This festival gives importance to family gatherings and is celebrated with the whole family. Hence, Nepalese people, wherever they live, return home in Dashain to take blessings from their elders and enjoy being around family, forgetting all their trouble and worries. There is a tradition of getting new clothes and having a big feast as a part of this festival. The family gathering is the most loved part of this festival. Swings made up of bamboo and coconut rope will be swinging all across the nation. There is a tradition to swing at least once by everyone. It is believed that if you leave the ground swinging in Dashain, the swing will take away ill feelings and replace it with new and rejuvenation inside oneself. Kite flying, which is my favorite part of this festival, is a big attraction for kids. Playing cards with family members is another fun thing to do during Dashain.
On the first day of the festival, a pot is filled with holy water which is then covered with cow dung sewn with barley seeds. The pot is kept in the center of a rectangular sand block and the remaining bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The priest then starts the worship by asking goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence. This ritual is performed at a certain auspicious time which is determined by the astrologers. The pot is kept away from direct sunlight and holy water is offered to it every day, so that by the tenth day of the festival the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass. This sacred grass is known as jamara. The Tenth Day of Dashain is the most important day of them all where the young ones receive blessings from their elder family members. There is a culture of elders putting Tika (mixture made out of rice, yogurt and red color) on forehead and jamara (yellow grass) on head of young ones and give them blessings.
For the first time in my life I was away from home during this festival and I really missed all the fun. Kite flying, having feast everyday for 15 days and playing cards was what I missed the most. I have my cousins here in Albuquerque, so I went to my cousins on the 10th day to get blessings from them and spent some family time. I also celebrated this year’s festival with Nepali community here in Albuquerque, which somehow helped me overcome the sadness of not being in Nepal for this year’s Dashain festival.