Durga puja (Dashai): the main festival in Nepal
Durga puja is named after the goddess Durga. The puja is the longest and the most auspicious festival in Nepal which is mostly celebrated by Hindu. The public schools are closed for a month to celebrate the festival. However this festival is celebrated 15 days all over the country. If people pay their respect to the goddess Durga, good fortunes are on the way. And if people neglect her, she will be so angry and misfortunes are around the corner. Mother goddess is the source of life and everything.
Durga puja is mainly celebrated 10 days. The first day is called “Ghatasthapana.” The kalash is filled with holy water and covered with cow dung on to which seeds are sown. People bring secret purifying soil from the river bank and plant seeds which contain grains, wheat, and barley, maize and ‘cumin’ in the temple. Finally the priests cover the planted seed with leaves of flowers and water it every day. He also worship everyday once in the morning and then in the evening. After five days, people bring the planted seeds to their home which is called “Fulpati.” The process of taking “Phul-pati” differs among people. Some of the people do it in a traditional ways where long yellow grass (Jamara) is carried along with banana stalks, and sugar cane tied with red cloth is carried and take to home while other don’t. We can clearly see the transformation of traditional pattern into modernity.
The following day is called “Kaal Ratri” the dark night also called “Maha Asthami” the eight day of Durga puja where people usually fast during this day. This day is belief to be the day where goddess Parbati take a form of kali and conquer the power to kill the monster called “Mahisasur.” The moster receives the blessing from the Lord Brahma-father of earth- that he will not be killed by man. Moreover, if his drop of blood falls in the ground then he will be again alive. Therefore, he was misusing his power and creating problem in others lives. Finally, with the request from my god and goddess Parbati take a form of kali and killed the monster by sucking his blood. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed at the mother goddess temples to celebrate the happiness.
The next day is called “Maha Nawami” where mostly Hindu including men, women and children, woke up early in the morning, clean and mop their home, take shower and keep the surrounding clean. This is a way to invite to the mother goddess, so that she may visit and bless the house with good fortune. We can smell beautiful smell of Joss Sticks in every house. People have numerous puja and sacrifices thousands of animals to her. Goat, buffalo, hen, duck, cock, pig are slaughter in the name of Durga. Women cook variety of meat items, sweets and food. Children swing and enjoy with their friends. The entire day is colorful.
Finally, “Maha Dashami” is a day where the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass and red tika. The Jamara is taken as a token of Goddess Durga as well as the elders blessing. On this day we take tika and Jamara from our elders and receive their blessing. We visit our elders in their home and get tika from them while our younger ones come to our home to receive blessing from us. The importance of Dashai also lies in the fact that on this day family members from far off and distant relatives come for a visit as well as to receive tika from the head of the family. The elders offer tika, give money/present and blessing to younger. Younger people bow their head to elders in the form of respect. The last five days symbolize the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess.
However, in the last decades, Dashai has been unfortunate festivals to many. Poor people who work very hard to survive each day are force to buy goat, new clothes and make various types of dishes because of their societal competition. They have to take loan to celebrate this festival and pay heavy interest .Sometimes, the borrowers are unable to pay their loan till the next festival and the chain of borrowing money continues. Dashai has also been a way to collect money and present for some. However, for few, it has been a way to meet with their relatives and share their happiness. My observation of Dashai from the past some years have been the festival of “wealthy people” which need to be changed from this year onwards. Finally, it ends during the full moon of fifteen days.
This year, the Durga puja falls as below:
October 8, 2010- Ghatasthapana
October 14- Phul-pati
October15- Maha Asthami
October 16- Maha Nahami
October 17- Maha- Dashami ( Dashai) and ended on 22.