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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Dashain festival in Nepal

Photo: Dashain bamboo swing in Kanchenjunga region of Nepal
The end of September is a bad time of year to be a goat in Nepal. As the festival of Dashain approaches one of the typical sights in Kathmandu are the many buses coming into town with goats on the roof ready to be sold at the market for the festival celebrations! The longest and most important festival in Nepal called Dashain starts tomorrow on September 25th and then continues until October 7th.

As a traveller it is well worth visiting Nepal during Dashain as you will see the celebrations and rituals for one of the most important and auspicious festivals in the Nepali year (however please be aware that many government offices and companies will be closed too). There is much excitement and joy during the celebrations, you will notice the holiday atmosphere as most Nepali get time off work and will travel back to their villages for the festival. People are also in a good mood as government workers and many private companies pay a Dashain bonus often equivalent to an extra month pay!

Dashain commemorates the victories of the gods and goddesses over the demons. It symbolizes the victory of the good over the evil when on the tenth day of the festival Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura. Goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the country as divine mother goddess. The festival of Dashain is also about forgiveness, kindness and respect. It is believed that if Durga is worshiped then good luck is likely to happen although if the goddess is angered then misfortunes are likely to take place….

Dashain is a long festival so it allows people the time to travel to be with friends and family. The tradition is to get a tika from an older person in your family. There are many pujas to worship god for peace and prosperity. Traditionally during the festival it is an opportunity to purchase new clothes for the family and many shops offer Dashain sales. There are celebrations throughout the period and many people enjoy flying kites and children in the villages ride on ferris wheels and swings built using bamboo, grass and wood.

During the festival there there is a variety of food eaten including sweets, fruits and meat. The most popular meat is not surprisingly goat! Of course meat is expensive and not many people can afford to eat meat regularly throughout the year so festival time is a special occasion for feasting.

Early October is also peak trekking season in Nepal so if you plan your trek during this month then you will see the celebrations of Dashain festival in the villages. If you are interested in visiting Nepal in 2015 for Dashain then this is will take place later than 2014, the first day is October 13th and tenth day is October 22nd.

Happy Dashain 2014 to everyone in Nepal!

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company