Dashin - Festival, Nepal
Dashain (दशैं) is the 15-day
national (religious) festival of Nepal. On the first day, called
Ghatasthapana, the "Dashain Ghar", or special worship room, is set up—this
room is used to worship the Astha-Matrikas (the 8 tantrik Goddesses) as
well as the Nava Durgas (the 9 Goddess Durga), to whom the festival is
consecrated. Barley is sowed on big earthern pots which have a coating of
cow dung. These seeds will sprout in ten days. The sprouts, which
symbolize a good harvest, will be decoratively placed on the heads of
family members later on in the festival as a blessing. On the seventh day,
Fulpaati, the town of Gorkha sends an offering of flowers to Kathmandu. A
band associated with the army also plays its music and goes through the
old core of Kathmandu.
The eighth day, Asthami, is the day of animal sacrifices. Goddess temples
all over the Kathmandu Valley receive sacrifices, ranging from male goats
and water buffaloes to ducks and chickens. Blood, symbolic for its
fertility, is offered to the Goddesses. This meat is taken home and cooked
as "prasad", or food blessed by divinity. This food is offered, in tiny
leaf plates, to the household Gods, then distributed amongst the family.
Eating this food is thought to be auspicious.
Sacrifices continue on Navami, the ninth day. Families will visit various
temples around the Kathmandu Valley. On the tenth day, "Dashami," a
mixture of rice, yogurt and vermillion will be prepared by the women. This
preparation is known as "tika". Elders put this on the forehead of younger
relatives to bless them with fertility and abundance in the upcoming year.
The red also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together. Elders
will give "Dakshina", or a small amount of money, to younger relatives at
this time. The tika continues for five days, during which time people also
gather to play cards around massive amounts of food and drink.