Dashain (Nepali: दशैँ Daśãi, or Baḍādaśãi बडादशैँ), also Bijayā Daśamī (Nepali: विजय दशमी), or Mwohni (Nepali: मोह्नी), or Durga Puja (Maithili : दुर्गा पुजा) is a fifteen-day-long national festival of Nepal, the ethnic Nepali people of Indian hill states of Sikkim, Assam and Darjeeling district and among the Lhotshampa of Bhutan and the Burmese Gurkhas of Myanmar.
It is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese people, along with their diaspora throughout the globe. It is the longest and most anticipated festival in Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and North Indian hills. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together. All government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed during the festival period.The festival falls in September or October, starting from the shukla paksha (bright lunar fortnight) of the month of Ashvin and ending on purnima, the full moon. Among the fifteen days on which it is celebrated, the most important days are the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and the tenth.
Dashain commemorates a great victory of the gods over the wicked demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayan, where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravana, the fiendish king of demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorised the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo. The first nine days signify the nine days of ferrous battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolise the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess. Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the kingdom as the divine mother goddess.
The first day of Dashain is known as Ghatasthapana, on this day, people fill a vessel with sand and sow maize and barley seeds and is covered and worshiped for 10 days. On the seventh day, Phulpati is celebrated which is also known as ‘Saptami’. The eight day is regarded as Maha Aastami. On this day, animals like buffaloes, ducks, goats, hens are sacrificed to Goddess Kali and the meat is taken as ‘Prasad’ (holy food). The night of this day is called the dark night- ‘Kal Ratri’. Maha Navami is the ninth day of Dashain. On this day, craftsman, mechanics, traders etc worship their equipment and tools by sacrificing different animals and offering it to equipment. The tenth day is named as Vijaya Dashami which is the most important day of this festival. On the tenth day, younger ones in a family receive Tika (a mixture of yogurt, rice and vermilion), Jamara (planted on the first day of Dashain) and blessings from elders as well as respected people.
This festival is in fact the ceremony of reunion and fun. People living far away from home or homeland, revisit their home and get together with their families.
Similarly, parents buy new clothes to their children. People enjoy eating mouth-watering foods and playing a lot of games including cards. People invite guests, organize feast, visit their relatives’ houses, fly kites, build bamboo swings and get involved in various entertaining activities.