The grandest of the festivals celebrated by the Hindus worldwide falls on this September-October. Dashain and Tihar are two of the main festivals which uphold the religious and cultural significance of Hinduism.
Nepal, with the majority of Hindu population, celebrates the festivals with full joy. Feasting is common in almost every Nepalese household during the occasion.
Dashain (Nepali: दशैं) or Badadashain, Dashera in India, is a festival celebrated by Hindu devotees worldwide. It is the longest festival, lasting 10 days, which starts from lunar night and ends on full moon. It is widely celebrated throughout India and Nepal. The festive is known for bringing joy in the household by bringing families together.
Starting from September 25 and ending at October 5, the 10 day celebration celebrates the overcoming of the evil by good.
The first day begins with the celebration of the Goddess Durga, meaning “the invincible,” one of the incarnations of Devi or Shakti. It’s believed that Goddess Durga brought end to evil by killing the Mahishasura, a mythical demon. The celebration continues for the next 7 days. The final of the 10 day celebration is known as Dashami or Vijaya Dashami, when young members of the household receive blessings in form of Tika or vermilion from the elders of the family.
According to the legend,
Dashain commemorates the victory of the gods/goddesses over the demons. It symbolizes the victory of the good over the evil. Mahishasura, a demon, had terrorized Dev-lok (the world of gods). All the gods and saints prayed to the Adigoonin order to kill the demon, hence, Goddess Durga appeared and killed the demon.
The festival gives an important message, it reminds of the universal principles of truth, justice and virtue.
How to Celebrate Dashain?
Day 1: Ghatasthapana -The first day of festival marks the celebration of Goddess Durga which continues till the 7th day.
Day 7: Saptami (Fulpati) -Social event commemorated for the highest official in Nepal
Day 8: Maha Asthami -Celebration of Goddess Kali, one of the incarnations of Goddess Durga
Day 9: Maha Navami -A day before the big event, Maha Navami or Navaratri observes ritualistic sacrifices of animals and the worship of Vishwakarma.
Day 10: Vijaya Dashami -the final day of the festival is marked by putting tika or vermillion on the forehead of the younger members of a family
Tihar (Nepali: तिहार) or Deepawali, Diwali in Inda, is the another festival of Hindus . It arrives immediately after the completion of Dashain. Known as the festival of lights, Tihar is widely celebrated in Nepal and India. Compared to Dashain, it’s observed with more grandeur and dazzle. The streets are lit bright, people become shopping-frenzy, crackling of firecrackers becomes too common and feasting is kept in the top of the list.
It is the only festival which celebrates the common animals in Nepal; cow, canine and crow. Rangoli, decoration of a floor with variety of vermilion and colors, is observed in almost every household.
According to Legend,
Tihar or Diwali dates back to ancient times in India, as a festival after the summer harvest in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika. The festival is mentioned in Padma Purana, the Skanda Purana, and other Sanskrit Hindu scriptures; the divas (lamps) are mentioned in Skanda Purana to symbolically represent parts of sun, the cosmic giver of light and energy to all life, who seasonally transitions in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik.
How to Celebrate Tihar?
Day 1: A Day for Crow -Worship of crow
Day 2: A Day for Canine -Worship of canine
Day 3: Laxmi Puja or a day for Cow -Celebration of the Goddess of Wealth
Day 4: Gobardhan Puja -Worship of cow dung
Day 5: Bhai Tika -Dedicated to the male siblings of a family