Dasain, Dusshera, Vijay Dashami or Durga Puja – many names of the same festival that celebrates and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Being one of the major festivals of the Nepali community, it is celebrated widely with much pomp and gaiety.
Significance of Dasain
As per Hindu mythology, once a water buffalo demon named Mahishasura caused trouble in the world of the gods. There was a battle between the demon and goddess Durga, which lasted for ten long days. On the last day, the demon was slain by the goddess. This particular day is celebrated as Dasain. Vijaya means victory and Dashami means the tenth day, hence the name, Vijaya Dashami.
Duration and relevance of the festival
Dasain actually extends to a total of fifteen days but not all days are considered important. However, every single day carries a different significance. The festival commences on the bright lunar fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the holy Ashwin month of Bikram Sambat calendar (mid-September to mid-October). Within the fortnight, the most auspicious and celebrated days happen to be first, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth, with tenth being the day of Vijaya Dashami. Puja ceremonies, community processions, family get-togethers and festive meals are integral parts of the celebrations.
The first nine days of Dasain are usually considered the most auspicious, when the Hindus worship goddess Durga and her various manifestations. The beginning of the festival is marked by the ritual of Ghatasthapana Dasain.
The seventh day marks the day to be celebrated as Fulpati, a tradition wherein people (especially belonging to the Nepali community) decorate their puja rooms. Also on this day, a religious procession is taken out. The tenth day marks celebrations with friends and families gathering together. The day is also marked by the tika ritual during which the elders apply tika (a sticky mixture of rice grains and curd with added colour) on the forehead of their younger ones and bless them.
The festival of Dasain can also be considered as a celebration of reunion and fun. People meet and greet each other. Every member of the family, especially the children are provided with new clothes which adds on to their happiness.
During the festival tall bamboo swing, known as the lingey ping, is installed in open areas, especially in villages where people swing merrily.