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Great Hindu festival Dashain begins

A Dashian greeting with the picture of goddess Durga (Shakti) killing the demon named Mahisasur (evil) and words that wish for good health and overall prosperity. Photo: File photo
A Dashain greeting with the picture of goddess Durga (Shakti) killing the demon named Mahisasur (evil) and words that wish for good health and overall prosperity. Photo: File photo

KATHMANDU, Nepal- Dashain, the great Hindu festival, and the greatest festival among all in Nepal, will begin with the Ghatasthapana on Saturday. The Ghatasthapana, which marks the beginning of the festival of Dashain is tomorrow.

Schools and colleges will close for the next one month until Tihar or Dipawali and businesses will slow. All the government and private offices and institutions will remain close for the whole week beginning Friday, October, 11 till Purnima the last day of Dashain. People who came to the capital city have started returning to their home town and villages making the Kathmandu streets deserted. The streets of Kathmandu, now full of people hustling and bustling, doing their last minute shopping, will slowly begin to empty. And it is not just Kathmandu, almost the entire country slows down for the Dashain days.

People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate Dashain. They will be crammed into seats abroad buses and planes, most heading home to receive tika that falls on the tenth day of the festival on 14 of October and continue until 19.

The festival has its own social and cultural importance as all return to their homes just to see long-missed families and loved ones and stay merry-making. Apart from the religious practices, Dashain is also marked by merrymaking, gambling and excessive consumption of food and liquor.

Dashain days

Ghatasthapana, also known as Kalash Sthapan, is the first day of Dashain, also called as Vijaya Dashami. It is one of the significant rituals during Navratri. It marks the beginning of nine days festivity. The most important factor to consider is that Ghatasthapana is done before Hindu midday while Pratipada is prevailing. Ghatasthapana is invocation of Goddess Shakti. This year Vijaya Dashami will start from 5th October 2013 and end on October 19.

Two girls enjoying swing. Playing swing and flying kites are the integral  part of Dashain festival. Photo: File photo
Two girls enjoying swing. Playing swing and flying kites are the integral part of Dashain festival. Photo: File photo

Kalash means pot and Sthapana means to establish or place, so kalashsthapana literally means establishing the pot.  A pot (Kalasha) containing holy water is considered as symbol of Goddess Durga. It is placed in puja room and worshiped for nine days. It is a mark of purity and auspiciousness. Establishing Kalash in your home brings positivity and happiness. Sowing Barley or Wheat – Seed provides fruits.

Sowing seeds during navratri signifies growth, prosperity and abundance. It also indicates fertility. Many families have a tradition of sowing barley seeds during Ghatasthapana. By the end of navratri, these seeds grow into 3-5 inches long shoots. The plant which grows big in 10 days is called Jamara. These are taken out and disturbed as form of blessings.

Navaratri (nine nights) is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights.

The tenth and the main day of the Dashain festival, Vijaya Dashami, is celebrated across Nepal. People of Hindu faith received Tika, Jamara and blessings from elders amid family gatherings and engaged in celebration and merrymaking. However, in Nepal, Vijaya Dashami is celebrated not only by Hindus, but also by many other religious communities as a way of social interaction.

Generally, people receive Tika from their parents and elders at the most auspicious time and visit their relatives throughout the day. Those who cannot visit all of their relatives on the day can do so within five days till Purnima.

Nepalese living abroad also celebrate the festival passionately, as it provides them a rare opportunity to gather at one place and exchange greetings.

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