Dashain Festival in Nepal
Dashain - The most widely celebrating festival in Nepal

Dashain Festival – Greatest Hindu Festival in Nepal

All the Nepalese people celebrate this festival with a greater plethora of entertainment than others. Dashain is a very ancient festival, but the exact beginning of this festival is unknown.

Deepak Raj Bhatta
Author | Deepak Raj Bhatta Date Published:
Dashain Celebration in Nepal

Dashain festival, also popular as Bijaya Dashami, is one of the greatest festivals of Nepal observed by Hindu followers. This festival is a symbol of victory over evil. The word “Dashain” derived from the Sanskrit term “Dashami”.

The tenth day of this festival is remarkably important, so this festival is popular as Dashain. There are many views or legends of many people on the emergence of this festival. Some say about the victory of the Ram over the Ravan, some say about the victory of the Goddesses over the Demon king Mahisasur.

Different traditional epics proclaim the bravery of Bhawani as well. Similarly, the belief is that Ramchandra defeated Ravana by praying and meditating the Devi (goddess). So, it is the victory of good over evil. 

Festival Name

Bijaya Dashami (Dashain)

Observed by

Hindus

Festival Type

Religious/Cultural

Theme

Victory of Good over Evil

Date

Ashwin or Kartik Month in BS calendar

All the Nepalese people celebrate this festival with a greater plethora of entertainment than others. Dashain is a very ancient festival, but the exact beginning of this festival is unknown.

The ancient epics have mentioned the importance of this festival. In one of the inscriptions of the Lichchhavi period, there is one expression ‘Narayan Devkuladashami Gosthi’ and it is speculated as the process of performing the festival in the temple of Narayan.

Table Of Content

    Dashain Festival in Nepal

    In Nepal, many festivals are celebrated. Among them Dashain is the greatest festival. Dashain is also known as Durga Puja - the worship of mother Goddess Durga.  It is Nepal’s longest and greater than other festivals. 

    During this festival, all offices, schools, and institutions are closed for nine days. Everyone wears new clothes, feasts are held, and business and government offices remain closed and all people visit their relative’s houses.

    In the Medieval period, this festival was celebrated more joyfully. At that time this festival was taken as the practice of Khadga Siddhi (weapon). Except for many ceremonies, which are performed nowadays such as ‘Ghatasthapana’, ‘Phulpati’, there was a prayer of ‘KhadgaSiddhi’ and worship procession of the Goddess Devi. 

    On the day of Dashami, there was the feast and ‘Sobha Yatra’ according to the customs of their religion. The Gopalraj Bamsawoli mentions that king Jayasthiti Malla and his supporters also used to worship ‘Khadga’.

    It occurs between September and October in English months and in the month of Aswin, in Nepali.  This major festival celebrated by Hindus is also called Vijaya Dashami. It is a festival which is celebrated as a victory of good over evil. This festival symbolizes that good always prevails over bad. There are so many stories behind the Dashain celebration victory of Ram Chandra over Ravan. Similarly victory of Durgamata over Mahishasur.

    People offer goats, chickens, eggs and coconuts to the goddess Durga. People return to their villages and hometowns to spend their time with their family members and to celebrate the festival.

    Ghatasthapana (First day of Dashain)

    Ghatasthapana is the first day of Dashain festival. Ghat stands for “pot or vessel” and Sthapana stands for “ to establish”.  Combining both words the meaning is to establish a pot. It is also known as Kalasthapana as Kalash stands as the type of water vessel. Moreover, The goddess Durga is worshipped for nine days and nights.

    Male members (who have completed Bratabandha) usually recite the Chandi chapter every morning and night. When you go into the prayer room you have to take a bath and wear a clean white dhoti priorly. 

    Unmarried females, non-family members, and children are restricted before Bratabandha to enter the room in Ghatasthapana as per the tradition. Weapons are put in front of Goddess Durga Bhawani and worshipped. People also worship Durga Bhawani and Jamara and blow Sankha and play Damaru.

    How is Ghatasthapana Puja performed?

    People cleaned the pooja room and a Kalash made of clay or copper with a large opening is filled with water, sandalwood paste, flowers, Holy grass (Duvo), rice mixed with turmeric (Akshyata), betel nut, five leaves, five gems or a gold coin. 

    There is a tree on top of the Kalash. Some people avoid using the coconut to cover the top instead. Kalash’s neck is attached with a piece of cloth white and red.

    Why is Ghatasthapana celebrated?

    At the beginning of the 15 days festival period, Ghatasthapana is the most important day on the Nepali calendar. It celebrates Hindu beliefs concerning the victory of different gods over evil demon spirits, especially worshipful Durga “the mother goddess” at this time.

    Planting the Jamara on Ghatasthapana

    Step 1: Soak the barley seed in water and leave it overnight. It is better to soak the seeds on the prior day of Ghatasthapana. 

    Step 2: Get some sand (As per the need), container, and Jamara seeds. 

    Step 3: Fill the container with sand. It is better to plant the seeds in a dark room. Or at least cover the container so that the Jamara grows yellowish. 

    Step 4: Sprinkle the Jamara seeds on a sand filled container and cover with a thin layer of sand. 

    Step 5: Water the seeds. And cover the container. Place the container in a dark room. In the absence of sunlight, the seeds grow in yellow color. 

    Step 6: Water the seeds every day. Make sure to water the container adequately but don’t overwater. Moisture and dark space helps to grow the seeds yellowish.

    Phulpati (seventh day of Dashain)

    Phulpati is the seventh day of the Dashain festival. It is also called Saptami in the literacy language. Phul stands for “Flower” and Pati stands for “ leaves and plants''.  FulPati literally means flowers, leaves, and plants. Brahmins traditionally bring the Kalash, banana stalks, jamara, and sugar cane tied to red cloth on this day. 

    Navratri Puja celebration is done with Nepali traditional types of flowers in the pooja room. Hundreds of public officials gather in standard formal dress to witness the event in the Tudikhel grounds.

    The president and prime minister watch the Tudikhel ceremony as the Phulpati parade heads towards the palace of Hanuman Dhoka. From this day, all private and government offices shut down, encouraging people to return to their respective ancestral homes and take blessings from Goddess Durga and their elders.

    Nine ingredients of Phulpati

    • A banana plant (Kera ko bot) signifies Goddess Brahmani, who gives peace.

    • Pomegranate (darim) signifies Goddess RaktaDantika who supports worshippers and blesses.

    • In rice stalk (dhanko Bala) lives Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth

    • Goddess Durga graces the turmeric plant (haledo) and puts an end to obstacles.

    • Goddess Chamunda resides in manabriksha, who puts an end to evil.

    • The ginger plant represents Goddess Kalika who blesses mankind.

    • Wood Apple Tree (bel plant) lives Lord Shiva and is the favorite fruit of Lord Vishnu and Shiva.

    • In the Ashok plant resides Goddess Sokarahita.

    • Jayanti represents Goddess Kartiki.

    What to do in Phulpati?

    Phulpati furnished outside the house and brought inside the Dashain Ghar. It is held within the pooja ghar at any moment of the day on the seventh day, depending on the tradition of the family. 

    Thereafter, Phulpati Puja is performed. Phulpati starts from pooja on ten days and Bisarjan on the Holy River. Traditionally, on the 15th day, the individual bisarjan Jamara is held in Dashain Ghar planted in Ghatasthapana.

    Maha Ashtami (Eighth day of Dashain)

    The eighth-day of Dashain, Durga Puja Festival, is one of the most auspicious days. The worship of the Durga Bhawani and the Kali Mata with very high dedication. Some Hindus take fast in Ashtami. 

    In Kali temples and houses, hundreds of goats, sheep, and buffaloes sacrificed to please the goddess. The sacrifice goes on until dawn and even until darkness. In most homes, puja continues with festivals. 

    Why Hindu celebrate Durga Ashtami?

    Durga Ashtami also refers to as Mahashtami and is one of Durga Puja’s most major days. Seven regular days, many people observe fast. It is the belief that the Goddess Kali came to annihilate Chanda, Munda, and Rakthabija from the heart of Durga on this day. 

    Brahmani, Maheswari, Kameswari, Vaishnavi, varahi, Indrani and Chamunda are the Ashanayikas worshipped during Durga Puja. Many people visit Durga’s temple for worship. Durga Ashtami ends with Sandhi puja, which is also popular to be the day of Mahanavami.

    Maha Navami (Ninth day of Dashain)

    The Navratri festival marks the 9th day of Maha Navami and the final day of the prayer before the Navratri festival of Vijaya Dashami. Durga Day was praised in different ways in different areas of the nation on this day. 

    The last day of Navratri implies elevated dedication to the goddesses, and that ends because Vijaya Dashami is the next day. People believe that the families of the demons that the demons destroyed by the goddess are thought to hide in the bodies of animals.

    Why do people celebrate Navami?

    For various reasons and in various ways throughout Nepal Navratri is celebrated. Navratri is as remarkable as Durga Puja in Nepal. Which is also the day of victory of the Spiritual Durga over the devil Mahishasura. The performance of ‘ Ram Lila ‘ and the fission of images by Ravana, meaning Lord Rama's victory over Ravana, are celebrated in different manners.

    On the day of Navami, people also worship the tools and equipment to avoid accidents and mishaps throughout the year. Also, the military sacrifices are organized in the ‘Kot’ courtyard of Basantapur Durbar Square.

    Vijayadashami (Dashain day)

    On Dashami’s day, everyone wears fresh clothing and walks to honor their elders in the family. People get a large vermilion paste tika on your forehead. Elders place Tika and jamara, planted in the room of younger relatives at Ghatasthapana, to be blessed by everyone else. 

    The red Tika is also a symbol of blood lying together with the family. Elders, at this time, give Dakshina (money) and blessings to the younger. During the Five days, until the full moon, families and relatives visit each other’s home to exchange gifts and greetings.

    At this time, the rainy season ends and winter begins. During the Dashain period, the happy moments of children and a lot of entertainment are brought together to celebrate. 

    In Kathmandu valley, different kinds of Jatra and classical dance performances are organized in different places. For each of the first nine nights, the narrow lanes surrounding Patan durbar square pulsate with masked dancers in jeweled costumes, each personifying one of the eight Mother earth goddesses, the Asta Matrika. 

    The dance of Pachali Bhairav in Kathmandu is exhibited during the days of Navaratri to the Vijaya Dashami. In this way, the great festival Dashain rejoiced.

    Why do Hindu celebrate Dashain?

    Dashain holds a huge significance in Hindu tradition. There are a few legends and sayings that accompany the reason behind the celebration of Bijaya Dashami. 

    Celebrating the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana

    The victory of God’s strength over demons is the main theme of the Vijaya Dashami. Lord Rama killed Ravana, a ten-headed one, this day who had kidnapped Sitadevi, Lord Ram’s wife. In this association, this day also stands as Dashara. Dashara comes from two Sanskrit phrases, Dasha (ten), hara (defeat). The words Dashara have their beginnings. This victory of righteousness over evil is commemorated by burning Ravana, Kumbhakarna, his brother, and Meghanada’s son.

    Celebrating the slaying of the Demon Mahishasura.

    Mahishasura was a strong demon under whose guidance asura fought and defeated the semi-gods. The half-gods sought Durga’s assistance in killing Mahishasura. The divine mother, Durga Devi, mounted on a lion, battled the great demon for 9 days and murdered him on the tenth day. This victory of Mother Durga over Demon Mahishasura glorified Vijaya Dashami.

    The worship of Shami Tree

    The Kauravas were banned from the kingdom to live in a forest for 12 years and stay incognito one year afterward. The Kauravas were restricted from entering their homes. After 12 years of exile, the Pandavas decided to hide for the next year in the Kingdom of Virata. They wrapped their divine weapon in a towel before approaching the king and held it in an elevated tree branch near the cremation floor outside the town.

    Saraswati Puja

    On this day people do a puja of books for three days. Aarambam means to start. Vidya means knowledge. A mantra inscribed on rice or sand in a copy with the help of a child’s dad or any other older person in the family, symbolizing the inauguration of the process of teaching.

    Beginning of the harvest season

    Vijaya Dashami also marks the start of the season of harvest. For a good harvest, people seek peace, prosperity, and blessings of Mother Earth. In India and Nepal, the semi-gods worship at the beginning of every season of harvest on Vijaya Dashami with different offerings and sacrificial (yajnas) rituals.

    Kojagrat Purnima

    This is the day in which Hindu goddess Maha Laxmi worship, in accordance with the instructions in Hindi scriptures, is Kojagrat Purnima. Maha Laxmi is the Hindu god of wealth. 

    The night of Purnima, god walked to look for those who stood up for their future prosperity all night. When the god arrives at a house, she should say, “Ko Jageko chha?” means ``Who's awake?”. 

    The Kojagrat part of this holiday name came from that phrase. Maha Laxmi is especially glad to find the community involved in playing. Some people fast all day on Kojagrat Purnima, and many try to stay awake throughout the entire night.

    Activities during the Dashain Festival

    Nepal’s religious, cultural and traditional customs are experienced by tourists through multiple types of festivities, such as flying kites, Dashain cards, visiting temples, etc.

    Flying kites

    Kite flying is a significant way of reminding the gods no longer to rain. You will see people everywhere flying kites of all ages during the Dashain Festival. The pure blue sky is full of colorful kites of various sizes and forms under the comfortable sunshine. The entire valley is immersed in happiness and joy.

    Playing cards

    Another way to spend the Dashain festival is to play with cards. The members of the family would meet and play cards while cracking jokes. The gambling activity is illicit in Nepal, however, playing cards for fun among the family members is a way to share joy and happiness. 

    Buying new clothes

    The main aspect of the Dashain festival is shopping and purchasing of fresh clothing. Most people buy new products and clothes on Dashain. Most of the shops in Nepal give discounts during this period, which makes shopping more attractive.

    Playing Bamboo swings

    Bamboo swings are built all over the nation. It intensified traditionally with a community effort, using grass, bamboo, and wood. These oscillations were usually constructed a week before Ghatasthapana and ceased after Tihar. Some of the swings are more than 20 meters high.

    Sel Roti

    It is a traditional Nepalese bread. Sel roti, as opposed to the form of round donuts, are round foods. These are thin and bigger. The flour, water, sugar, cooking oil and ghee are major ingredients. 

    Sometimes, people prefer a combination of banana and coconut. Some people use milk to create salt paste instead of water. However, to preserve water for longer periods of time is possible. 

    It is produced and served in Nepal during wedding parties and other ceremonies at the Tihar and Dashain and many more festivals. It is also the cultural food of Nepal.

    Dashain Festival Dates in 2021

    Dashain festival dates in 2021/2078 :

    Ghatasthapana

    07 October | 21 Ashwin

    Phulpati

    12 October | 26 Ashwin

    Maha Ashthami

    13 October | 27 Ashwin

    Maha Nawami

    14 October | 28 Ashwin

    Vijayadashami

    15 October | 29 Aswin 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What is the Dashain festival in Nepal?

      Dashain festival honours the goddess Durga and various feasts and worship enchantments are organized to please the goddess. It is also the time for family reunions and entertainment, rejoicing the victory of good over evil.

    • Why do we celebrate the Dashain festival?

      There are several legends behind the celebration. The victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasura and the destruction of havoc creator Ravana by Lord Rama is celebrated in this festival. Mainly the victory of good over evil is praised and celebrated in this festival.

    • How do we celebrate the Dashain festival?

      Homes are decorated with new colors and various feasts are organized to celebrate the Dashain festival in Nepal. The family reunites and takes blessings from the elders during the celebration. This festival is a festival of love, joy and happiness and observed widely by Hindus in Nepal.

    • What do we eat in Dashain?

      Various meals and delicacies are made to celebrate Dashain festival. Mutton meat is significantly eaten by a lot of people during the festival. Selroti, Khaja Set, Dal Bhat Masu, Sweets and drinks are prepared during the celebration.

    • What do we call Jamara in English?

      Jamara is known as barley grass in english. The barley seeds are sowed on the first day of Dashain festival. Ghatasthapana is the first day of Dashain.

    • Why bring Phulpati in your house?

      People believe Phulpati brings all of the 9 goddesses to your home. All nine crops are goddesses. All goddesses are health, wealth and prosperity. It is the belief that health, wealth and prosperity enter the home where the Phulpati is brought.

    • How many days Dashain is celebrated?

      Dashain is celebrated for 10 days, the first day is Ghatasthapana, the seventh day is Phulpati, eighth day is Maha-Ashthami, ninth day is Nawami and tenth day is Vijayadashami.

    BLOGS & TRAVEL STORIES

    our first-hand Himalayan travel experience