Dashain or Bada'dashain, also referred as Vijaya Dashami in Sanskrit, is a major Hindu religious festival in Nepal.[3] It is also celebrated by Hindus of Nepal and elsewhere in the world,[4] including among the Lhotshampa of Bhutan[5] and the Burmese Gurkhas of Myanmar. The festival is also referred as Nauratha, derived from the Sanskrit word for the same festival Navaratri which literally translates to Nine Nights.[6] A version of this festival is celebrated as Navaratri, Dussehra or Dashera by Hindus in India, although rites and rituals vary significantly.

Vijayadashami refers to either goddess Durga’s victory over evil depending on the region.[1]
Official nameबडादशैँ
Also calledBijaya Dashami, Nauratha
Observed byHindu religion
TypeReligious, Cultural
SignificanceCelebrates the victory of good over evil
CelebrationsMarks the end of Durga Puja
ObservancesPeople worship Chamundeshwari Kali, Chandi, Bhairabi, Barahi and take the tika and jamara with elders, pandals 1000000(stages), plays, community gathering, recitation of scriptures, ammersion of Durga or burning of Ravana.
DateAshvin or Kartik (September to November)
2022 date5 October, Wednesday

It is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat and Nepal Sambat annual calendars, celebrated by Nepali Hindus, along with their diaspora throughout the globe. In Nepal, it is also known as the biggest festival in the country and is the longest national/public holiday, 5 days to be exact. It is the most anticipated festival in Nepal. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together.[4] All government offices, educational institutions, and other offices remain closed during the festival period. The festival falls in September or October, starting from the shukla paksha (bright lunar night) of the month of Ashwin and ending on Purnima, the full moon. Among the fifteen days on which it is celebrated, the most important days are the first, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and fifteenth.[7] Dashain is the main festival of Hindus in Nepal.


The word Vaḍādaśain̐ (वडादशैँ) is a Nepali sandhi, where "baḍā" (बडा) means "important" and "daśa͠i" (दशैं) means "tenth", implying the most-significant final day of the festival of Durga Puja, celebrating the dawn after the end of Nauratha (nine nights). The word Dashain is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit word daśamī, denoting the 10th day of the Kaula (month) in this context.


Dashain symbolises the victory of good over evil.

For followers of Shaktism, it represents the victory of the goddess Durga. In Hindu scripture, the demon Mahishasura had created terror in the devaloka (the world where gods lives) but Durga killed the devils also known as demons.[8][9][10] The first nine days of Dashain symbolize the battle which took place between the different manifestations of Durga and Mahishasura. The tenth day is the day when Durga finally defeated him. For other Hindus, this festival symbolises the victory of Ram over Ravan as recounted in the Ramayana. It symbolises Hinduism.

Day 1: GhatasthapanaEdit

The Tika (in red) and jamara used during Dashain

Ghaṭasthāpanā (घटस्थापना; "sowing Jamara") marks the beginning of Dashain.[11][12] Literally, it means placing a kalasha or a pot, which symbolizes goddess Durga. Ghaṭasthāpanā falls on the first day of the festival. On this day the Kalash is filled with holy water and is then sewn with barley seeds. Then the Kalash is put in the center of a rectangular sand block. The remaining bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The priest then starts the puja by asking Durga to bless the vessel with her presence. This ritual is performed at a certain auspicious time which is determined by the astrologers.[13] The goddess is believed to reside in the vessel during Navaratri.[14]

The room where all this is done is known as the Dashain Ghar. Traditionally, outsiders are not allowed to enter it. A family member worships the Kalash twice every day, once in the morning and then in the evening. The Kalash is kept away from direct sunlight[15] and holy water is offered to it every day so that by the tenth day of the festival the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass. This sacred grass is known as jamara. These rituals continue until the seventh day.

Day 7: PhulpatiEdit

Phulpati is a major celebration occurring on the seventh day of Dashain.

Traditionally, on this day, the royal Kalash, banana stalks, jamara, and sugar cane tied with red cloth are brought by Magars from Gorkha, a three-day walk, about 169 kilometres (105 mi) away from the Kathmandu Valley. Hundreds of government officials gather together in the Tundikhel grounds in conventional formal dress to witness the event. The king used to observe the ceremony in Tundikhel while the Phulpati parade was headed towards the Hanuman Dhoka royal palace. Then there is a majestic display of the Nepalese Army along with a celebratory firing of weapons that continues for ten to fifteen minutes honoring Phulpati. The Phulpati is taken to the Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace by the time the occasion ends in Tundikhel, where a parade is held.[16]

Since 2008, when the royal family was overthrown, the two-century-old tradition is changed so that the holy offering of Phulpati goes to the residence of the president. The President has taken over the king's social and religious roles after the end of the monarchy.[17]

Day 8: Maha AsthamiEdit

The eighth day is called Maha Asthami. This is the day when the most fierce of Goddess Durga's manifestations, the bloodthirsty Kali, is appeased through the sacrifice of buffaloes, goats, hens, and ducks in temples throughout the nation. Blood, symbolic of its fertility, is offered to the Goddesses. Appropriately enough, the night of this day is called Kal Ratri (Black Night). It is also the norm for buffaloes to be sacrificed in the courtyards of all the land revenue offices in the country on this day. The old palace in Basantapur Hanuman Dhoka is active throughout the night with worship and sacrifices in almost every courtyard. On midnight of the very day of the Dashain, a total of 54 buffaloes and 54 goats are sacrificed in observance of the rites. After the offering of the blood, the meat is taken home and cooked as "prasad", or food blessed by divinity. This food is offered in tiny leaf plates to the household gods, then distributed amongst the family. Eating this food is thought to be auspicious. While the puja is being carried out, great feasts are held in the homes of common people. On this day the Newar People has an event called "Khadga Puja" where they do puja of their weapons. It is when they put on tika and get blessings from elders.

Day 9: NavamiEdit

Maha Navami in 1856

The ninth day of Dashain is called Mahanavami, "the great ninth day". This is the last day of Navaratri. Ceremonies and rituals reach a peak on this day. On this day, official military ritual sacrifices are held in one of the Hanuman Dhoka royal palaces, the Kot courtyard. On this occasion, the state offers the sacrifices of buffaloes under the gunfire salutes. This day is also known as the demon-hunting day because members of the defeated demon army try to save themselves by hiding in the bodies of animals and fowls.

On Mahanavami, durga, the mother goddess Devi, is worshipped as it is believed that all the things which help us in making a living should be kept happy. Artisans, craftsmen, traders, and mechanics worship and offer animal and fowl blood to their tools, equipment, and vehicles. Moreover, since it is believed that worshipping the vehicles on this day avoids accidents for the year all vehicles from bikes, and cars to trucks are worshipped on this day.

The Taleju Temple gates are opened to the general public on only this day of the year. Thousands of devotees go and pay respect to the goddess this day. The temple is filled with devotees all day long.[18]

Day 10: Bijaya Dashami Vijaya DashamiEdit

The tenth day of the festival is the 'Vijayadashami'. On this day, a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion is prepared. This preparation is known as "tika". Often Dashain tika time[19] is different every year. Elders put this tika and jamara which is sown in the Ghatasthapana on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with abundance in the upcoming years. The red also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together. Elders give "Dakshina", or a small amount of money, to younger relatives at this time along with the blessings. This continues to be observed for five days till the full moon during which period families and relatives visit each other to exchange gifts and greetings. This ritual of taking tika from all the elder relatives (even the distant relatives) helps in the renewal of the community ties greatly. This is one reason why the festival is celebrated with so much vigour and enthusiasm.

As it is celebrated on the tenth day after the victory of Emperor Ashoka in the Kalinga war, it is called Ashoka Vijayadashami. It is on this day that Emperor Ashoka took initiation into Buddhism. Vijaya Dashami is the holy festival of Buddhists. The historical truth is that after the Kalinga war, Maharaja Ashoka had announced to adopt Buddhism by abandoning the path of violence

After becoming a Buddhist, he went on visits to Buddhist sites. Thousands of stupas, inscriptions, Dhamma pillars were constructed to fulfill the life of Lord Buddha and to make his life grateful. Pleased with this religious change of Ashoka, the people of the country decorated all those monuments - Sawara and celebrated Deepotsav on it. This event continued for 10 days with great enthusiasm, on the tenth day the Maharaja along with the royal family took Dhamma initiation from the revered Bhante Moggiliputta Tishya.

After the initiation of Dhamma, the Maharaja took a vow that from today onwards we will conquer the hearts of living beings not only by scriptures but by peace and non-violence. That is why the entire Buddhist world celebrates it as Ashoka Vijay Dasami. But the Brahmins have captured this important festival of ours by calling it the victory of imaginary Rama and Ravana.

As far as Dussehra is concerned, the fact related to it is that there were ten emperors from Chandragupta Maurya to Brihadratha Maurya, the last ruler of the Maurya Empire. The last emperor Brihadratha Maurya was assassinated by his general Pushyamitra Shunga and founded the "Shunga dynasty".

Pushyamitra was a Shunga Brahmin. This society celebrated a big festival on this day. That year it was the day of Ashoka Vijayadashami. He dropped the word "Ashoka" and celebrated.

In this celebration, not making separate effigies of 10 emperors of the Maurya dynasty, made a single effigy and made 10 heads of it and burnt it. Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar took initiation of Buddhism along with 5 lakh people on the day of Ashoka Vijayadashami on 14 October 1956, connecting with the legacy of Emperor Ashoka of 2500 years. Wishing all my friends a very Happy Ashok Vijayadashmi!

Day 15: Kojagrat PurnimaEdit

The festival's last day, which lies on the full moon day, is called 'Kojagrat' Purnima. The literal meaning of Kojagrat is 'who is awake'. On this day Goddess Laxmi who is believed to be the goddess of wealth is worshipped as it is believed that Goddess Laxmi descends on earth and showers whoever is awake all night with wealth and prosperity. People enjoy the night by playing cards and much more.

Elder celebrating Dashain festival by putting tika on a child

Animal sacrifices are often the norm during this time, as the festival commemorates the bloody battles between the "divine" and "demonic" powers. The proponents of animal killing interpret this sacrificial act as the symbolic sacrifice of our animal qualities, but those who are opposed to animal sacrifice stress that the sacrificial act is nothing but an excuse to fulfill the appetite for food/meat.[20]

Swing of a village

The Malshree dhun is incorporated into mainstream Nepalese music as the music of Dashain. It is the tune that announces the Dashain has arrived. Malashree dhoon is one of the oldest surviving devotional music of Newa art form, with its origin in the 17th century.[21] In due time and also the fact that Dashain happens to be celebrated not just by Newars but by all Nepalese, this dhoon caught up and now is part of the national culture and played during Dashain.

Dashain ritual

As Dashain approaches, kite flying becomes more and more common. Riding kites has been a very important part of celebrating Dashain in the country, as it is considered to be one way of reminding God not to send rain anymore.[22] During the festival people of all ages fly kites from their roofs. Colourful kites and voices shouting out 'changā chet' (this phrase is usually used when one cuts the other person's kite string) fill the days during the festival.

Playing cards is another way of celebrating Dashain.[22] While children are busy flying kites during Dashain, the older members of the family pass their time by getting together and playing cards with each other for money and fun.

Buying and wearing new clothes is an important part of the festival. As many people living in the villages are below the poverty line, for them it is often the case that new clothes come only with Dashain.[22] Almost all the shops have festival offers and discounts. This makes shopping more attractive. Clothes have the highest sales during the festival.[18]

Children playing on traditional bamboo swings

Bamboo swings are constructed in many parts of the country as a way of celebration. Dashain swings are called 'ping' in Nepali. They present the best of local culture, tradition, community spirit, and fun.[23] These swings are constructed by community members with traditional methods which use ropes made from tough grass, bamboo sticks and wood, etc. The swings are normally constructed a week before Ghatasthapana and dismantled only after the festival of Tihar which comes after Dashain. The height of some swings exceeds twenty feet. People of all ages enjoy the swings. They are especially famous with children.

Fairs and celebrations are organized during the festival. Usually, small fairs are organized in the villages with Ferris wheels for children and other entertainment for adults. However, in the city commercial fairs and celebrations are usually organized.

Thousands of animals including buffalo, ducks, and rams are slaughtered in Dashain every year. It has been considered an important ritual since it is believed that the goddesses are appeased by such sacrifices. Almost all the temples, especially the Durga and Kali temples, are offered with thousands of sacrifices. Ashtami and Navami are the days when the sacrifices reach a peak. While thousands of animals are sacrificed to appease the goddesses, people also slaughter animals for feasts. Since many feasts and gatherings are organized throughout the fifteen days of the festival, the demand for meat goes up considerably. To meet the demand, the slaughtering of animals becomes considerably high and necessary.[24][25]

Controversy in NepalEdit

The festival of Dashain is often criticized for its animal sacrifice.[26][27][28] Many online petitions have been registered on Change.org, calling for a government action against mass slaughter. Driven by the belief that offerings of fresh blood will appease goddess Durga, scores of animals and birds are ritually slaughtered especially in the eighth and ninth day of the festival.[29] Birds and animals that are traditionally eligible for sacrifice include goats, buffaloes, sheep, chickens, and ducks.[30] Some animal activists have called for the use of pumpkins and coconuts, as opposed to birds and animals.[31]

Numerous national luminaries and animal rights activists alike have expressed their concerns over the issue of animal cruelty in the festival. On 3 October 2016, renowned Nepali comedian Hari Bansha Acharya wrote a satirical piece on Nepal Saptahik – entitled "Euta Khasiko Aatmakatha" (Autobiography of a Goat) – in light of "horrendous" exploitation inflicted upon animals during the festival.[32]

Dashain has also become controversial in Nepal's current political climate as several indigenous groups (adivasi janajati) argue that festival has been imposed on them by the state. In an effort to resist what they view as the cultural domination by the Hindu elites that dominate the Nepali state, several organizations (anti-Hindu) have organized a boycott of Dashain. So far those campaigns have had a limited effect across the country. Yet, Dashain and likewise other cultural celebrations are ingrained in Nepalese lifestyle. [33]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Christopher John Fuller (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Nepali and hilly Society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 0-691-12048-X.
  2. ^ 2017 Holidays National Informatics Centre (NIC), MeitY, Government of India
  3. ^ "Happy Dashain 2075". Lumbini Media. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Festivals of Nepal: Dashain". Nepal Home Page: Travel Guide. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
  5. ^ "King of Bhutan Celebrated Dashain with Bhutanese people in Loggchina". 23 October 2015.
  6. ^ James G. Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 468–469.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Mahishasur Mardini". Shaktisadhana.50megs.com. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  9. ^ "The Slayer Of Mahishasura". Balagokulam.org. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Major festivals of nepal". Asukagroup.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  11. ^ nmn (28 September 2011). "Dashain begins with Ghatasthapana Wednesday". Nepal Mountain News. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Dashain 2072: When is Dashain in 2015 (2072) : Dashain 2072". Sanjan Media. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Ghatasthapana". Riiti.com. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Ghatasthapana for luck and prosperity: Dashain days are here again". My Republica. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  15. ^ Karki, Avigya. "Festivals of Nepal: Dashain". Nepalhomepage.com. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Fulpati". Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  17. ^ "President offers tika". Nepalnews.com.
  18. ^ a b "Days of Dashain". Nepalvista.com. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  19. ^ dashain tika time
  20. ^ "September Festivals". Explore Himalaya. 27 September 2009.
  21. ^ Melodious Instruments of Lyrical Nepal
  22. ^ a b c "ECS Dasain". ECS.com.np. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  23. ^ "To Swing On A Ping". ECS.com.np. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Enjoy Healthy Food This Dashain". My Republica. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  25. ^ "Goat for Dashain - The Himalayan Times". The Himalayan Times. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  26. ^ Criveller, Gianni. "NEPAL Buddhists and animal rights activists against animal slaughter for Durga - Asia News". Asianews.it. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  27. ^ Bibek Bhandari (27 October 2014). "Animal rights activists want Nepal's sacrifice festival stopped | South China Morning Post". Scmp.com. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  28. ^ "NFC starts selling goats for Dashain". My Republica. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  29. ^ Haviland, Charles (19 October 2007). "Revulsion over Nepal animal slaughter". BBC News. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  30. ^ "Dashain festival, Nepal - Occupy for Animals!". Occupyforanimals.net. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  31. ^ "Debating Animal Cruelty During Nepal's Dashain Festival · Global Voices". Globalvoices.org. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  32. ^ "एउटा खसीको आत्मकथा" [Autobiography of a Goat]. Nepal Saptahik (in Nepali). Kantipur Publications. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  33. ^ Hangen, Susan (January 2005). "Boycotting Dasain: history, memory and ethnic politics in Nepal". Studies in Nepali History and Society.


External linksEdit

  Media related to Dashain at Wikimedia Commons