Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival. It is the most anticipated festival in Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, and North Indian hills. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together. The festival falls in September or October. Among the fifteen days on which it is celebrated, the most important days are the first, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and the fifteenth. The goddess Durga and her various manifestations are especially worshiped by Hindu Newars throughout the Shaktipeeths of Kathmandu Valley.
DAY 1: Ghatasthapana
Ghatasthapana marks the beginning of Dashain. 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. The goddess is believed to reside in the vessel during Navratri.
DAY 2: Phulpati
Phulpati is a major celebration occurring on the seventh day of Dashain. 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. Since 2008, when the royal family was overthrown, the two-century old tradition is changed.
DAY 8: Maha Astami
Durga Bhawani and Kali mata (different names and incarnations) are worshiped with very high dedication. People sacrifice animals to Goddess. Some Hindu devotees observe fasting in Asthami. The night of Astahmi is called “Kal Ratri” (the dark night). Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed on Kali’s temples and households. The sacrifice continues till dawn and even till dusk. The puja continues with feasts in most of the celebration homes. People in Kathmandu generally makes syabaji In this day.
DAY 9: Maha Navami
The ninth day of dashain is called Mahanavami, “the great ninth day”. This is the last day of Navaratri. Ceremonies and rituals reach the peak on this day. On Mahanavami, Vishvakarman, the god of creation, is worshiped as it 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 the vehicles from bikes, cars to trucks are worshiped on this day. Thousands of devotees go and pay respect to the goddess this day. The temple is filled with devotees all day long.
DAY 10: Bijaya Dashami
Bijaya Dashami is the most important day, when tika (a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion) is prepared by women. Elders put tika and jamara on the foreheads of younger family members, blessing them for their future. The red tika symbolizes the blood that ties the family together. Elders give “Dakshina”, or a small amount of money, to younger relatives along with the blessings.
DAY 15: Kojagrata Purnima
The last day of the festival 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 worshiped as it 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.