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.