Sharing their Dashain enchantment
Dashain is celebrated with much enthusiasm. With changing times, the way it is celebrated has changed in many ways, and the importance of the festival has different meanings for people of different generations. Three well-known personalities from three different generations share with us what Dashain means to them, and how they’d prefer to celebrate it.
Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Rastra Kabi
“Aile ko Dashain ta ke Dashain, hami sano chanda ko Dashain ta harek din utsav hunthiyo (Dashain today is nothing like what we used to celebrate when we were kids, everyday use to be a celebration then),” says Ghimire with a grin remembering the Dashain in the village he was born.
As soon as the jamara was sown, children used to get excited thinking about all the nice things they would get to wear and eat, remembers the poet. “Unlike now when you have three sets of clothes for a day, we led more simple lives with new clothes only during Dashain. I used to wear my new clothes showing it off to everyone in the village,” he says.
He talks about the ambience of the village throughout the 10 days of celebration, how during Asthami and Nawami the sheep were sacrificed at the Kali mandir and the crowd watching it with awe and the panche baja being played in the background — all are still fresh in his memories.
“Family members used to relish the meat as those days meat was available only during Dashain or weddings. But I could not. I use to graze the sheep, and they used to follow me all the time. Whenever I saw the meat hung in the house, it used to remind me of the sheep’s face,” he says.
And then there used to be linge ping (swing) and roti ping (Ferris wheel).
“We used to compete in swaying the ping and try to pluck leaf with our mouth from the tree tops,” he adds.
Today he feels people have forgotten the cultural value and spirit of Dashain. “All that people want today is to enjoy the commercial aspect of the festival. They prefer enjoying western festivals,
I am not saying not to enjoy them but one should be able to realise the basis behind all these celebrations. They should understand the closeness and brotherhood these festivals brings,” he insists.
“ Today we are in a dilemma whether we will be able to enjoy this festival in peace or not, and this should not happen. This is the time when all should come together and enjoy,” he adds.
Of his most memorable Dashain, he says, “Once my father and thulo bua (father’s elder brother) were fighting over a small issue and were not speaking for days. But during Dashain, my father went to his place with a jar of curd and all the bitterness was forgotten. That is what Bijaya Dashami is all about. It is about winning over evil — the evil of misunderstanding in our family was over during Dashain.”
Bandana Sharma, First runner up Miss Nepal 2007
For the picture perfect beauty, Dashain is all about getting back to the roots.
“Dashain is very important and dear to me. I am a very religious person, and during Dashain I make sure I visit all the nine temples of Bhagwati,” says Bandana.
She has spent most of her Dashains at Hetauda and Itahari as her grandparents used to stay there. “If you want to see the real Dashain, you have to go outside the Valley. Here the roads are deserted, shops are closed and people are inside their houses. But out there, it is celebrated in much more better way,” she adds.
And of course, Dashain was about clothes and food too. “Compared to our childhood, children today take Dashain in a more commercialised way and only concentrate on clothes, shoes and dakshina. When I was a kid, I remember playing langur burja but today children too want to gamble in cards,” she says.
The best thing she thinks about Dashain is the togetherness and closeness the festival brings in the family. “Ours is not a joint family, but during the festival everyone comes and visits,” she adds.
Bandana has always celebrated Dashain with enthusiasm and excitement but she remembers the Dashain two years ago when her granny passed away and could not celebrate that year. Her grandmum was a very religious person and used to give lots of blessings and that’s what she cherishes the most of all Dashains.
“Dashain last year was not much fun as my sisters were abroad, and this year they are coming home. But I have to leave for Miss Earth pageant at Philippines and I will miss celebrating Dashain with my family. But to my delight they are planning to start celebrations a few days in advance so that I can go for the pageant with fond memories,” she says.
Bhuban Chand, Actor
“As children it was khasi katne, having delicacies that used to be an important part of Dashain,” says noted actor Bhuban Chand. “But after I started working, it was meeting people, greeting others that I really enjoyed,” she adds.
And visiting all the nine devi’s temples, visiting relatives is something she cherishes. “In the recent years, we’ve stopped sacrificing animals at home. We prefer doing nariwal (coconut) puja, but we do eat meat delicacies,” she says.
“The celebrations in the city are certainly not as elaborate or as enjoyable as in the villages. People who have been far away from home come back and the whole atmosphere is totally delightful,” she says.
She also feels that due to the situation of the country it is not as appealing as earlier. “You can’t stay out late like before celebrating at your relatives or friend’s place with no worries, and go anywhere anytime, but that just is not possible now,” she says.
Chand is surprised that though people can afford to eat delicacies, buy
new clothes and make necessary changes in their homes any time of the year, people wait for this festive season to do all this.
“I guess there is a certain charm to it. The environment itself is so special that it makes such experiences all the more enjoyable,” she says.
Two of her daughters are in the US and she feels a kind of emptiness during the festival. “It is only three of us here right now, and we try to make the best of it, but I miss the environment that used to be when all my daughters were here,”she says. “But we keep them updated about the everyday celebrations and I’m really happy that though they are in a foreign country, they still celebrate it there too,” she adds.
The other thing she feels nostalgic about during Dashain is that since her mother is no more, she misses receiving tika and blessings from her.
With changing times she feels slight changes are acceptable but one should not completely distort festivals in a way that we tend to forget our culture. “It is these traditions and culturally-rich festivals that are the pride of our country,” she says.