Autumn arrives in Nepal and school kids are all excited and ready for a long two weeks of vacation where they will celebrate the longest Hindu festival, Vijaya Dashami.
The tenth day of Dashain remarks the victory of gods over demons. Its a day that symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Among the mythological stories, the most famous are the great victory of Lord Ram over ten head Ravana in the tale of Ramayana. Ravana is described as having ten heads, a follower of Lord Shiva, a great scholar, and a ruler but a someone who aimed to defeat and overpower devas. Ravana’s profound knowledge about six Shastras and four Vedas symbolizes his ten heads. Another popular mythological story is the fight between lord Durga and “Maishashur” which lasted for ten days. Maishashur is a demon terrorizing the world in a form of a black buffalo. The tenth day marks the victory of Durga over Maishasur. The last five days symbolizes the celebration of the victory. Vijaya Dashami is celebrated for fifteen days.
It is a big day for Hindus all over the world celebrating this particular day getting blessed from elders, socializing and sharing with their close relatives and friends. Usually, a big feast is prepared which includes varieties of Nepalese cuisine. Nepalese cuisine comprises of various style of food with the use of various spices and herbs. Every dish has a distinct taste and texture which makes it a unique cuisine.
Among the varieties of food made are sel roti (a round shaped roti), bhutan (cooked internals of goat), dried meat, spicy potato salads with cucumbers and carrots, cucumber and radish relish, goat meat. During this time, sacrificing an animal to god is a major religious event that is carried out. After the sacrificing, the meat is enjoyed by turning it into various dishes.
The tenth day is celebrated by receiving “tika”.The Tika is a mixture of rice grains, curd and red vermilion powder formed into a paste and put on the forehead as a blessing from the Goddess Durga on the 10th day of the Dashain festival. Gifts are also exchanged and it could be also in the form of money. A sacred yellow grass called “Jamara” is used as token along with the gifts. “Jamara” is planted on the first day of Vijaya Dashami called Ghatasthapan. “Jamara” symbolizes a token of a gift from goddess Durga. The grass is especially nourished for ten days and kept in a dark place where direct sunlight cannot reach. Wheat, barley and corn seeds are used for growing this special yellow sacred grass.
Another major activity carried out by families and friends are gambling during this time. People play cards for fun or for the money. I see it as an event to involve family members together to share happiness, freedom, and enjoyment.
Dashain is the longest festival celebrated in Nepal. It is also the most awaited festivals in the whole year. With the blessings of Durga, People get back and believe to flourish in their studies, work and businesses.