Nepal, a land of stunning natural beauty and vibrant cultural traditions, welcomes you to immerse yourself in the grandeur of the Dashain Festival. Dashain, the longest and most significant Hindu festival in Nepal, is a two-week celebration dedicated to the reverence of Durga, the Universal Mother Goddess, an embodiment of valor and prowess. This festivity harmoniously blends spiritual devotion, family reunions, and cultural rituals.
Dashain embodies the joy of soaring colorful kites, experiencing the thrill of linge ping swings, reuniting with dear ones, and savoring elaborate feasts. This festive occasion is a celebration of reconnection and jubilation, with a particular focus on the younger generation. Children eagerly anticipate this special time, donning new attire, receiving blessings (and perhaps a little pocket money) from their elders, and relishing the opportunity to revel in the delights of swing play, all after a year-long wait.
In Kathmandu, Dashain doesn't create much of a bustling scene. Instead, the densely populated city undergoes a significant exodus, with over half of its residents departing for their hometowns scattered across Nepal to partake in the festivities with their families. It's during this period that the typically tranquil villages, which remain sparsely inhabited throughout the year, spring to life as people from the larger cities return to their roots.
The festival is characterized by a series of events, such as Ghatasthapana, Phool Pati, Mahaastami, Nawami, and Vijaya Dashami, each with its unique set of rituals. Pilgrims thronged to river confluences in the morning and sacred shrines in the evening during the first ten days. Notably, Nawami sees the official sacrifice of a significant number of animals at Hanuman Dhoka, a ceremony attended by dignitaries and visitors alike.
On the final day, known as Kojagrat Purnima, the Taleju Temple opens its doors to the public, offering a rare glimpse into Nepal's spiritual heritage. The grand culmination occurs on the tenth day, TIKA, when people adorned in new attire move from one relative's home to another, receiving blessings and a distinctive tika made of red vermilion, yogurt, and rice.
Once upon a time, Dashain was all about the swing.
While many traditional elements of celebration, such as the iconic linge ping swings and wooden Ferris wheels, have dwindled with time, the genuine essence of Dashain can still be more authentically savored in the remote villages.
The Linge Ping, is a swing traditionally erected in a distinctive shape resembling that of the Shiva Linga, giving it its name. Swing holds a significant role in the Dashain Festival, serving as a key source of entertainment. According to the wisdom of the Nepali elders, partaking in the swing is not just a leisurely activity but a symbolic act of momentarily "taking flight", and must leave the ground at least once a year, from our daily lives during this festive season.
In the heart of Nepal, Dashain beckons travelers with open arms, inviting them to witness a festival that beautifully encapsulates the nation's rich culture, spirituality, and communal unity.
In 2023, the enchanting Dashain Festival kicks off on October 15th and ends on the 28th, with the most captivating celebrations set to unfold between October 21st and October 24th.