DASHAIN: From Ghatasthapana to Kojagrata Puja

Dashain also known as Vijaya Dashami is the longest and the most auspicious festival of Nepal. This festival is observed by Nepalese of all caste and creed all over the country with great faith. Government offices, education institutes and other offices remain closed during the festival.

The festival of Dashain is a celebration of reunion and fun. People who are away from their country and home return to their own home from different part of the world. Every members of the family especially the children are provided with new clothes to add on the happiness. Various traditional foods, feasts, kites and the bamboo swings are the things that symbolize the arrival of Dashain.

The atmosphere during the Dashain has energy in itself. The markets are busy all around the country and the economy of almost every sector boost. Houses and the surroundings are cleaned; people move from places to place and the whole environment seems so lively. The natural environment adds more beauty in the occasion. It is neither too hot nor too cold, rain stops to pour, the sun shines, trees regenerate green leafs and the flowers bloom. We can feel the festive evidence in the fragrance of the environment.

When is Dashain in 2018?

Dashain falls on the month of September or October. Dashain is a 15 days long festival that falls on the “bright moon” until the full moon in the month of Ashwin. In the first nine days of the festival, people worship goddess Durga and her different manifestations. The tenth day is celebrated grandly by worshipping the idols of gods and goddess in a procession and celebrates the victory over evil. The rest of the five days celebrate the victory with blessings from the goddess. Among the fifteen days of celebration, the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and the fifteenth days are more important. 

This year the Dashain starts from 10th October 2018 which is 24th Ashwin 2075 according to the Nepali calendar. However, the major day of celebration is the tenth day which falls on the 19th October 2018 or 2nd Kartik 2075.

History and Significance of Dashain

According to the Hindu mythology, once a water buffalo demon named Mahishasura was causing trouble in the world of the gods. There was a battle between the demon and goddess Durga. The battle lasted for ten long days. In the last day, the demon was killed by the goddess which is the day of celebration of the Dashain. The former days of the festival indicates the battle days between the Mahishasura and the goddess Durga while the tenth day is celebrated as the day of victory. Vijaya means the victory and the Dashami means the tenth day, which made the name of the festival.

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Likewise, another Hindu legend Ramayana represents Dashain as the day when Ram (vice) got the victory over the Ravan (virtue) with the blessing of goddess Durga.

Does not matter how it is described, it symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The people believe that the celebration of Dashain will lead an individual towards the right path. Also, goddess Durga will protect the members of the families forever. The elder members bless the younger of their family and neighbor with good advices. They also believe that it is good to receive the tika and blessings from as many people as you can.


Dashain Celebration: What happens in different days of Dashain?

Even though Dashain is the festival celebrated for continuous fifteen days, some of the days have a specific and important significance. Let’s know more about Dashain, going through what specifically happens in certain days:

Day 1: Ghatasthapana

The first day if the festival; Ghatasthapana is the day of sowing Jamara. Ghada or Kalash means ‘holy vessel’ and sthapana means ‘to establish.’ Literally, in this day, a Kalash symbolizing the goddess Durga is kept and filled with the holy water that is collected from a sacred pond or river. The devotees prepare a rectangular sandy area with the Kalash at the center. The priest starts the Puja inviting the goddess to rest in the Kalash for coming nine days. The barley seeds are sown around the Kalash in the sandy area which are believed to be pure and blessed.

The room where this is all done is known as Dashain Ghar and is worshipped throughout the festival period. Traditionally only the males of the family used to perform the ritual, however, it is not the same these days. The place where seeds are sown is chosen in such a way that direct sunlight does not reach there. For nine days the Kalash is worshiped and the sown area is watered regularly. At the end of the ninth day, the seed will grow almost up to five or six inches and will be yellowish in color. This grass is considered as sacred and is called Jamara.


Day 7: Phulpati

During the day of Phulpati, the Brahmins from the Gorkha bring out the Royal Kalash, Banana stalks, Jamara and sugarcane tied with the red cloth. The procession is about three days long. The government officials wait for the arrival of the Phulpati in Tundikhel and join the parade to Hanuman Dhoka. The Nepalese army observes the continuous firing of the weapons for about fifteen minutes to celebrate the arrival of the Phulpati. There is a Royal Dashain Ghar inside the Hanuman Dhoka where the Phulpati are kept.

But since 2008, after the Royal family was overthrown from the country, the tradition of the arrival of the Phulpati has changed. The Phulpati now goes to the residence of the President.

Day 8: Maha Aasthami

The people worship the fiercest manifestation of goddess Durga; blood thirsty Kali in the eighth day of Dashain. Goddess Kali and Durga receives massive sacrifices of animals like goats, hens, buffaloes, goats and ducks in Kathmandu and in several parts of Nepal. The blood is sacrificed to the goddess as a symbol of fertility. The meat is then taken to the homes, and eaten as a sacred food; Prasad, which is blessed by the goddess. The people organize feast in their homes.

The Newar Community perform the feast called Kuchi Bhoe in which ritually people should consume two pathi of beaten rice including bhuttan, (fried intestine and other abdominal part), tori ko saag (mustard leaves), bara, (beancake), chowella, (marinated meat) aaloo ko achaar, (potato pickle) bhatmaas, (soybean) aduwa, (spiced ginger) bodi (blacked- eyes peas) in a banana leaf including Aila (liquor) and thoo (Newari alcohol).

Day 9: Maha Nawami

The ninth day of the festival; Maha Nawami is the last day of Navaratri. Until this day, the ceremonies reach to the peak. The state offers the sacrifices of the buffaloes under gunfire salutes in Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace. During the day, Vishwa karma is worshiped (the god of creativity) where people sacrifice duck, goat, duck egg, hens to vehicles, various equipment and tools. The devotees believe that the worshiping of the vehicles on this day will prevent the accidents in the future days.

The night of the ninth day is also called as Kal Ratri or the Black night. The Basantapur area is lively the whole night and there is a tradition of the mass scarifying of 54 buffaloes and 54 goats in the Dashain Ghar.

The ninth day of Dashain is the only day when the gates of the Taleju temple are open to the public. Thousands of devotees go to pray and honor the goddess throughout the day.

Nawami Dashain

Day 10: Bijaya Dashami (Vijaya Dashami)

The tenth day is the day with the most significance. The tika; a mixture of rice, vermilion and yogurt is prepared by the women. Dressed up in new and beautiful dresses, the younger receives the tika from the elders. The elders also give the younger ones blessings to be a good person and for their better future. The red tika is taken as a symbol of blood that ties the family together for forever. Along with the tika, the younger also receive a small sum of money called “Dakshina”. The relatives and the family members away from their home come to receive tika on the following days of the tenth day.

Vijaya Dashami

Day 15: Kojagrata Puja

The fifteenth day of Dashain is the last day that falls on the full moon day called Kojagrata Purnima. The actual meaning of the Kojagrata is ‘who is awake’. On this day, people worship the goddess of wealth; goddess Laxmi. They believe that the goddess will descend down to the earth in this day and bless her with prosperity that is awake for the whole night. The people enjoy the night by playing cards and much more.

Traditions during the great festival of Dashain

The people of Nepal celebrate the Dashain with great enthusiasm and fun. There are still more traditions associate with the festival which includes:

Kites: The kites are the very important part of the festival. As the festival arrives closer, we can see the various colored and various sized kites in the sky over most part of Nepal. The kites are also considered as the messenger to the god for more rain. Mostly, the children are found enjoying with the kites. While the children are busy with the kites, the elder members are busy in playing cards.


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Bamboo Swing: Dashain is almost incomplete without Bamboo Swing. The people construct the swings by using the four Bamboo sticks, a thick rope made up of grass and wood. This swing is called “Linge Ping.” There are swings in almost one and other villages during the Dashan. The swing is constructed at least a day earlier than Ghatasthapana and is almost kept until the Tihar. We can find people of different ages in a queue waiting for their turn to play the swing. The people also believe that during the Dashain festival, they must leave the feet from the earth and play the swing at least once.


Rotis: There is a special tradition of making a round shape roti during the Dashain. Especially sweet ring shaped rice bread is prepared on Dashain. The roti is called “Sel Roti” and is prepared from the floor of rice. Almost every house makes this roti during the festival.


What for the Tourists?

Tourists can also enjoy the festival in many ways. Numerous small fairs are conducted throughout the country with Ferris and wheels and other rides and entertainment. Tourist can listen the Dashain music all around the cities which is called “Mal Shree Dhun”. The markets during the Dashain are worth visiting with so much of the crowd and many offers in almost every sector. Most importantly, the Dashain procession that passes through the three cities of the Kathmandu Valley is something that will amaze the tourists.

Festivals of Nepal: Celebrate Life in Colours of Festivals.

Nepal is a land of ethnic and religious diversity, dominated by people of Hindu religion and followed by Buddhist religion. There are more than 55 festivals celebrated in a calendar year in Nepal. The vast number of festivals arises from the ethnic diversity present in Nepal. In a small area of 1, 47,181 sq. meter resides more than 125 ethnic groups, each with their different festivals. In spite of the diversity in ethnicity and festivals, all the communities live and celebrate each other’s festivals and rituals with joy, respect, and excitement.

Tihar festival in Nepal

It is certainly true that there are more festivals in Nepal than days in a calendar, but not all festivals receive nationwide attention. Some important festivals gain more attention and have greater religious and historical significance than others. The celebrations have also become a tourist attention grabber. Many tourists express their desire to come back and experience the festivals in the future. Some of the paramount festivals of Nepal celebrated and enjoyed by people of all ethnic groups are:

Holi (Festival of Colors)

Holi, traditionally called Fagupurnima is the festival of colors. The festival falls on the month of Falgun and Chaitra of Nepali calendar. Holi is one of the most lively and enjoyable festivals of Nepal practiced by people all over Nepal. People celebrate Holi to celebrate the death of “Holika.”, who tried to kill a devotee of Vishnu, Prahlada. A Fire was lighted to both Holika and Prahlada, but only Holika burnt to death. Maybe this is the reason why we splash water in Holi.

Colors are another feature of Holi. Holi signifies the end of winter and start of spring, giving birth to colorful flower blooms and warmer climate. This also may be the reason we celebrate happiness with various colors in Holi.

Tourists visit widely to Nepal to enjoy this lively, joyful festival. Random strangers on the street become friends and celebrate by putting colors on the faces of each other. Undoubtedly, Holi is the most joyous and enjoyed festivals of Nepal.


Lhosar, also referred to as Losar is another widely celebrated festivals of Nepal. The Buddhist community is from where Lhosar originated. Lhosar is a new year’s festival celebrated on the first day of Lunisolar Tibetan Calendar. Different communities celebrate Lhosar in different dates. There are three different Lhosar celebrated in Nepal, Tamu Lhosar, Gyalbo Lhosar and Sonam Lhosar. Gurung community celebrates Talu Lhosar, Tamang and Yolmu communities celebrate Sonam Lhosar, and Sherpa and Tibetan community celebrates Gyalbo Lhosar.  

Lhosar is a festival of dancing in traditional dresses, eating foods and family gatherings. People also pray in monasteries, clean houses and surroundings and decorate homes and monasteries. They clean the surrounding to make a clean path for the gods to visit their home.


Dashain major festival in Nepal

Almost all Hindus in Nepal celebrate Dashain. More than 80% of Hindu people celebrate Dashain, the tika festival in Nepal. Dashain is considered as one of the major festivals of Nepal. It is a fifteen-day long festival. The first day, Ghatasthapana marks the start of Dashain. In Dashain, people worship different deities for 8 consecutive days, the 8 Tantrik Goddesses and nine incarnated forms of Goddess Durga. The tenth day, Vijaya Dashami is the most important day of the festival. People receive red tika and Jamara from elders and ask for blessings.

People travel all over the country to receive tika and blessings from their relatives and elders. The last day of the festival is in the full moon and called Kojagrata Purnima. People also enjoy huge swings made of bamboo (Linge Ping), play cards with family and cousins, and buy new clothes and equipment.


 Tihar is the festival of Lights. It is a five-day festival that comes after the end of Dashain. Tihar focuses on worshipping the animals ridden by gods and goddesses. People worship animals like dogs, crow, and cow in Tihar. Laxmi Puja is a significant day of Tihar. People light the houses in handmade Diyos and light up electrical lights over the entire house.  Laxmi is the goddess of wealth, and people keep the house and surroundings clean and pave a path with lights to guide the goddess inside peoples home.

Tihar is also a festival of sweet dishes. Many dishes like Selroti, Anarsha, Fiini, and Thekua are made and offered to the animals, goddess, and people. The sight of streets gleaming with different colored lights covers the entire country.  Close friends form a group and sing Dheuso Bhailo from house to house and ask and give blessings for prosperity and good fortune.

Mha Puja

Mha puja falls on Newari New year which follows the Nepal Sambhat calendar. It translates to Me puja where people worship themselves. The Mha Puja is the most important festivals of Nepal specific to the Newar ethnic group. It falls on the fourth day of Tihar. People worship themselves and perform rituals to purify and empower ones’ soul and body. The family members sit in a row on the floor in front of a drawn mandala, a sand painting of a sacred circular diagram.

Buddha Jayanti

 Buddha Jayanti is the most important day for all Buddhist followers. Buddha Jayanti marks the birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and the light of Asia. This a joyous day not just for Buddhist followers but for all the people of Nepal. People of different ethnic groups collaborate with monks and Buddhist followers and spread the teaching of Gautam Buddha on the day. Many Buddhist followers visit shrines like Lumbini, Swoyambhunath, and Boudhanath to pray and offer homage to their leader. The shrines of Gautam Buddha are lit with butter lamps as a sign of respect and admiration.

Monks, nun, and followers travel in parades on Buddha Jayanti chanting prayers of moral of life. Many people refrain from killing animals in Buddha Jayanti and eat vegetarian dishes on the day to respect the teachings of Gautam Buddha.


Teej is a Hindu festival celebrated by most of the Hindu women. Teej is a festival focused on women of Nepal. Married women fast on the day in hopes of longer life and prosperity of her husband. Young and unmarried girls fast in faith to find a kind and loving husband. Women wear red saris with ornaments and dance in music and celebrate the festival. They end the fast by eating delicious foods and visit relatives.

Indra Jatra

Jatras are festivals celebrated by people of the Newar community. Newar people of Kathmandu celebrate Indra Jatra(Yenya) to honor Lord Indra, God of rain. The festival is 8 days long and takes place in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Several chariots of Goddess Kumari, Ganesh, and Bhairav round the city along with mascots and traditional bands. People imitate different Bhairavs, Dashavtaar and Lakhey and dance around the chariot. People celebrate Indra Jatra in celebration of the release of God Indra, who was captured by locals. On the release of God Indra, his mother blessed the city with rain. So, god of rain, Lord Indra is worshipped and celebrated in Kathmandu.

Gai Jatra

Newars of Bhaktapur strongly follow Gai Jatra. The festival is one of a kind in Nepal. Gai Jatra is a humorous festival. The Jatra is nine days long and falls in the month of Bhadra. People make sarcastic jokes and comments, satire each other to make people laugh. Many magazines, Tv shows, and theatre play funny shows and plots to celebrate Gai Jatra. This Jatra takes place in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

Gai Jatra originated from the regime of Pratap Malla. The son of Pratap Malla died early, and his queen was grief-stricken. King Pratap arranged for an occasion to lessen the pain of his queen. The king ordered every family who has lost loved ones join in an event where people dress ridiculously as ghouls and comic appearance to make the grieved ones laugh and forget about their pain. People dress similar to cows, as cows are believed to lead the soul to the other world.    

Rato Machchhindra Jatra

Rato Machchhindra Jatra

Rato Machchhindra Jatra is a prominent festival of Nepal seen followed in Patan area of Kathmandu Valley. People make a chariot from wood and bamboo from forests that have religious importance. Hindus and Buddhists follow Rato Machchhindra deity. An idol of Rato Machchhindra is put inside the chariot and pulled places of Lalitpur like Gabahal, Sundhara, and Lagankhel. The festival ends when a marvelous Bhoto is shown to the people from the chariot. The chariot is then dismantled, and the idol of Rato Machchhindra is placed in a temple at Bungamati village.

Above mentioned are some of the most celebrated and followed festivals of Nepal. There are several others festivals in Nepal that people follow in huge number. Some other important festivals of Nepal are Bisket Jatra, Chhath, Maha Shivratri, Saraswati Puja and many more. You can visit Nepal in any of the festivals and be a part of our culture, traditions, and celebrations.

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