The festivities season of Dashain commences in Nepal in late September. Dashain means receiving and giving blessings and offerings of tika (vermillion) and dakshina (gift of money) to our family and relatives. Dashain is a fifteen-day long festival and the prominent days in celebration of Dashain are the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth days.
Dashain starts on the day of Ghatasthapana during which we plants maize and barely seeds in sand and mud in a darkroom where we perform religious worship. Day seven of Dashain marks Fulpati which is celebrated by an official ceremony in Tundikhel. A Fulpati parade is taken from Tundikhel to the residence of president of Nepal. The eighth day of Dashain is the Maha Asthami which is dedicated to Goddess Kali, one of the forms of Goddess Durga.
To pacify the fiery Goddess Kali, people throughout the country sacrifice goats, hens and buffaloes in temples. The ninth day of Dashain is Mahanavami in which Lord Vishwakarma is worshiped.
Vishwakarma is the God of creation who is sacred among mechanics and craftsmen. People worship vehicles, tools and equipment during the ninth day of Dashain. One of the main features of Mahanavami is the Taleju Temple whose gates are opened for the public only during Mahanavami.
The tenth day of Dashain is Vijaya Dashami which is one of the most important days for Nepalese. During Dashami, elders put tika and jamara on younger family members and relatives. These are sacred rituals as tika and jamara symbolize blessings passed from one generation to another, from elders to youngsters.
Dashain means a long holiday during which people exchange festival greetings. It means soaring kites and new clothes, delicious foods and good times with family members. Dashain symbolizes victory of Goddess Durga over the demon, Mahishasura in Hindu mythology. It means victory of good over evil. It also symbolizes victory of Lord Ram over the evil King, Ravan. The tenth day of Dashain marks Vijaya Dashami as the day when Goddess Durga defeated Mahishasura after a nine day long battle. Dashain symbolizes peace and prosperity among fellow countrymen.
Dashain holds a special place in my heart. When I was young Dashain meant respite from school work, shopping for new clothes and memorable times with my family.
Even today as an adult, I look forward to the excitement of Dashain one of the most auspicious festivals in Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on September 21, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.