Dashain Celebration During Pandemic 2020
Dashain is one of the biggest and longest festivals in Nepal celebrated by Nepalese Hindu people throughout the universe. According to the Hindu mythology, Dashain is one of the great success stories. It is celebrated for the goddess Durga’s victory over an evil spirit demon Mahishasura who spreaded horror and terror. This demon was killed by the Goddess Durga in a war that lasted for multiple days. That’s why Dashain, also known as Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra, lasts for 15 days. Every single day signifies a certain religious purpose for Hindus. The Goddess Durga is worshiped for resonating power. Her win over the demon also signifies that evil cannot win instead truth will always get victory over evil and deceits.
This year, Dashain festival started from 17 October (Ghatasthapana) and will last on 31 October 2020 which is today (End of Kojagrat Purnima). On 16th October, a kg of barley and a little bit of maize were stored in cold water overnight. On the Ghatasthapana day, we planted specially prepared barley and maize seeds on a clean mud inside the house in the dark area. The dark area is chosen to make the jamara yellowish and prevent it from being green. The planted seeds would be ready to use on the 10th day (Vijaya Dashami, 26 oct) for the tika and jamara ceremony. We could use the grown jamara till Kojagrat Purnima while doing the tika ceremony. We did a special Durga puja on Ghatasthapana day as it symbolizes the beginning of Dashain and prayed for peace and happiness in our family and relatives.
On 23rd October, the 7th day of the festival is called Phulpati. On this day, we sacrifice animals such as goats, buffaloes, ships and chickens as an offering to Goddess Durga. Blood, a symbol of fertility, is sacrificed to Durga. The meat is considered as ‘Parsad’ (sacred food) and is dried to eat until Dashain is over. Meat is sold to small families as well. The dried meat is super delicious with pumpkin, potato and gourd which gives real Dashain taste in everyone’s tongue.
On 25 October, the 9th day of the festival is called Maha Navami. On this day, we do ‘Bali Puja.’ Five to seven different fruits of the seasonal vegetables are cut and put red tika as the color of blood. We also worship equipment in house and tools.
On 26 October, the 10th day is called Vijaya Dashami. Vijaya Dashami is the main day of receiving tika, (red tika is a mixture of rice, yogurt and red color powder which is also called simrik) jamara and blessings from the elders. Yogurt gives the sense of purity in the tika made for the special day. Younger people get money which is a form of blessings and known as Dakshina from the elder members of the family. People working away from their home or country go to their hometown to celebrate the festival with families, friends and relatives. This way Dashain festival creates an opportunity for a long celebration with loved ones, distanced family members and relatives from around the world and the big celebration happens among the family whom we haven’t met for a long time with lots of blessings and feast prepared. People paint their house or put red and yellow mud into the walls if the houses are made up of mud, and do a deep cleaning of their homes as a preparation for Dashain. People do shopping and buy new clothes during Dashain. Maasu, Chiura, Sekuwa, Skukti (dried meat), Kerau ko Achar, Fruits, Sweets and Raksi are some of the delicious foods that are cooked on the main day of Dashain. Playing on huge bamboo swings in the communities, ferris wheels, flying kites, playing cards, are some of the major activities done during the Dashain festival.
The process where relatives and extended family members visit each other’s house to receive tika and blessings from their elderly relatives goes on until Kojagrat Purnima and the biggest festival, Dashain ends here!
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Written By: Deepa Bohara