Nepalese Hindu people celebrate Dashain festival throughout the country. This long holiday provides a great opportunity for traveling, family reunions, exchange of gifts and blessings from elders.
Dashain generally falls in September / October lasts for 15 days. Each day has special rituals and activities to be performed.
The festival starts from Ghatasthapana and ends at Krojagat Purnima. Among the fifteen days under Dashain, important days are 1st day (Ghatasthapana), 7th day (Fulpati), 8th day (Maha Astami), 9th day (Maha Nawami) and 10th day (Vijaya Dashami), each marked with a different set of rituals.
In the day of Ghatasthapana, people sow rice and barley seeds on the pious corner of their house to grow seedlings called ‘Jamara’.
A large number of animals are officially sacrificed at Hanuman Dhoka during Nawami, 9th day which is attended by officials, invitees and visitors. The Goddess Taleju Temple which is also opens to public on 9th day in Hanumandhoka Durbar Square.
The first nine days of the festival is also called Navaratri, and worshiping goddess is called Navadurga. The goddess Durga is worshipped during this period. The 7th day is known as Fulpati. Devotees visit temples and sacrifice goats, ducks, buffaloes and animals to the Goddess Durga on 8th and 9th day.
The main day of this festival is 10th day, called Vijaya Dashami. People visit their elders and relatives to seek Tika (a dab of red vermilion mixed with yogurt and rice) for blessings. Seeking Tika lasts for few days. They get blessings for good health, happiness, progress, prosperity and longevity.
The last day, known as Kojagrat Purnima, is farewell of Dashain festival and welcome to Dipawali festival.
Popular Hindu Goddess temples in Kathmandu
Guheswori, Maitidevi, Naxal Bhagawoti, Kalikasthan, Bhadrakali, Sankata, Raktakali, Dakshinkali, Shova Bhagawati, Naradevi, Bijayaswori, Indrayani, Bajrabarahi, Bangalamukhi etc.
Popular Hindu Goddess temples out of Kathmandu
Pathivara, Manakamana, Raktakali, Kankalini, Siddakali, Chhinamasta, Gadhimai, Dantakali, Kalinchok Bhagawoti, Palchok Bhagawoti, Palanchok Bhagawoti, Listimai, Chandeswori, Chamunda Bhagawoti, Salyankot Bhagawoti, Ripumardini Bhairabi Bhagawoti, Devighat Bhagawoti, Gorakhkali, Lamjung Kalika, Chhimkeswori, Khadkeswori, Jiteswori, Bhadrakali, Bindabasini Bhagawati, Guptakali, Aalamdevi, Jaljala Mai, Shaileswori, Bageswori Ugratara etc.
Dashain festival in day by day
Day 1: Set up of Ghatasthapana, worshipping Goddess Durga:
People establish Ghatasthapana (vessel) in secret place and sow seeds of rice, maize and barley to grow seedlings called ‘Jamara’.
Day 2: Worshiping goddess Brahmacharini, goddess of knowledge
Day 3: Worshiping goddess Chandraghanta
Day 4: Worshiping goddess Kushmanda
Day 5: Worshiping goddess Skandamata
Day 6: Worshiping goddess Katyayani Mata
Day 7: Worshiping goddess Maha Saraswoti, celebrating as a Fulpati
Nepali Army holds a parade at Tundikhel that includes gun firing, which is observed by the president and government officials every year.
Day 8: Maha Astami or also known as Kalratri
Devotees offer various items of worship, fruits, coconuts, some of them sacrifice goats and ducks in goddess temples in Kathmandu Valley and throughout the country from early morning.
Day 9: Maha Nawami or also known as Maha Gouri
According to myth: Goddess Durga had killed demon Mahishasur on Maha Nawami and hence Vijaya Dashami symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Taleju Temple also opens for the public in Basantapur Durbar Square.
Day 10: Bijaya Dashami Tika or also known as Aparajita
Today people visit their elders and relatives to seek Tika (a dab of red vermilion mixed with yogurt and rice) for blessings. Seeking Tika lasts for few days.
Day 15: Krojagat Purnima
Kojagrat Purnima is the full moon day. Today is the last day of biggest and longest Hindu festival.
Importance of Dashain festival
Dashain festival has a highly religious importance. Devotees participate in ritual activities in many diverse temples of Goddess throughout the country.
Kite flying from roof tops, Changa Chet (Kite Flying Competition) in Nagarkot
Temporary swings are constructed out of bamboo and wood. Adults and children swing for fun.
Home and garden are cleaned, painted and decorated ornately to attract Goddess and relatives.
Family members gather and enjoy.
Dark side of the festival
Schools, offices, organizations etc. remain completely closed from 7th to 11th day, but Bank remains completely closed only on 10th day.
Many birds and animals are sacrificed in Hindu temple.
Most of people drink alcohols during the get-together.
People play cards and gambling for fun and money.
Some people get in debt to celebrate festival in an expensive and showy style.
Tourist will enjoy during Dashain
Enjoy with listening Dashain music, Mal Shree Dhun
Observe and participate the Dashain activities in temple, streets and even Nepalese friends home.
Experience by playing swing
Less people, peaceful street for walking
Tourist might feel uncomfortable
Transportation: Fewer vehicles operate on the road, crowd in public buses,
Sacrifice: Hundreds of animals and birds sacrifice in temples; also you may see killing animals when walking on the streets
Offices close: bank, immigration, permit offices remain closed on 10th day of Dashain festival. Many shops and services are not available.