Photo- Kathmandu Post

Dashain 2021

Hotel Roadhouse being located in the center of the city with a history of its association with the Roadhouse Group since 1992 is a prime witness towards the cultural celebrations that take place around Kathmandu, Nepal. The best time to visit Nepal is between October and December, when the skies are a clear blue and the views are spectacular. October and November are two of the best months to visit as dry days make trekking easier and offer good visibility. The verdant landscapes and the cultural festivities that take place around the valleys and other parts of Nepal are ideal for photographers. The festival, Dashain which normally falls between October - November is the longest, most eagerly awaited and celebrated religious festival of Nepal. Also known as Bijaya Dashami, it is a festival celebrating the victory of good over evil. Bijaya means victory and Dashami means the 10th day. According to Hindu mythology, the demon Mahishasur was killed on the tenth day of the battle by Goddess Durga when his evil ways became intolerable to the world and to the gods. This joyous victory is celebrated for 15 days in Nepal.

Nepali speaking communities all over the world celebrate this festival by primarily sacrificing male goats,roosters,ducks and even buffaloes to Goddess Durga in gratitude. Senior members of the family put Tika - rice,curd or banana, and red vermilion mix - on the forehead of younger members and relatives as a blessing. Barley or maize sprouts called “jamara” are put on the head, and women adorn their hair with this auspicious plant.

In Kathmandu Valley , Newas in the cities of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur have their own way of making merry during this grand festival. Like their Nepali compatriots, Newas here clean their homes, especially the family puja room where a bowl shaped clay pot, filled with sand and sprinkled with maize or barley seeds , is covered with a twin bowl and worshiped for 10 days along with an auspicious water jar called “kalash”. This arrangement is called “Ghatasthapana '' and it is the beginning of Dashain. By ten days the seeds grow up into lovely light yellowish green 5 to 6 inch long auspicious sprouts. No dashain is complete without it.

Beginning from “ghatasthapana” Valley Newas visit various temples of Durga, also known as Bhagawati , and pay homage to her by going to Shovabhagwati, Naxal Bhagawati, Maitidevi, Dachhinkali, and all local Bhagawati and Ganesh temples. Some people in Lalitpur visit the Shikali temple in Khokana. People line up in long winding ques to pay their respect to Taleju Bhawani in Hanumandhoka on the ninth day because that is the only day the public is allowed to visit this highly revered temple. People also line up to pay homage to Durga in Hanuman Dhoka Palace in Kathmandu where army personnel sacrifice 108 buffaloes as an offering to the goddess. There is a growing protest by animal rights activists to stop this ancient gory practice. Besides visiting temples, young and even middle aged people enjoy kite flying.

Kite flying is an art worth learning and kite "fights" takes place in the afternoons. Elaborate preparations are made to armor the thread with plant based glues and powdered glass particles 2 to 3 days before the fight day. The "air duels" takes place when two kites are purposely entangled and the thread of one is cut. When a "kill" is made the victorious party shouts a boisterously cheerful "chait ! " meaning I have cut your thread. Kite flying takes place on roof tops with loud music and heavy snacking and moderate drinking of cold beer, the local milky rice brew called "thwon" or other alcoholic drinks.

The main family feasts called "kuchhi vway" takes place in the evening of the eight day. It means the feast consists of about I kg of beaten rice along with green and two other types of vegetables, black eyed and 1 more beans, buff or mutton curry, bamboo shoot soup, salad pickle, fried lungs and stomach parts, sweet and sour digestive called "paun kwa" (lapsi gravy), curd, a few pegs of the strong "aila" , green salad and curd served in a leafy plate and small clay cups for the "aila" and the sweet and sour "paun kwa".

On the morning of the next and ninth day, all vehicles - 2 and 4 wheelers and even airplanes - are given due respect and pujas are performed for their smooth and trouble free functioning till the next Dashain. Many make animal sacrifices with a strong belief that there will not be any loss of human life. Those who do not like sacrifices offer eggs instead. Feasts are enjoyed both during lunch and dinner time. In between its kite flying or card playing time among friends.

On the morning of the tenth day, the closing ceremonial puja is held. Some make animal sacrifices and others "sacrifice" ash gourd by male family members by cutting the gourd turn by turn bottom up.

After this ritual, senior family members will put tika on younger members turn by turn. The youngest is happiest because he or she makes lots of money. After tika, everybody sits down to eat. Then friends and relatives visit each other to wish or to receive blessings and share meals till the 15th and final day of the full moon. During this time all ill feelings are forgotten and best wishes are exchanged.