Festivals and Celebrations in Nepal

Nepal is a country of holidays and festivals. On top many festivals like Dashain and Tihar, many other events like birth, pujas, anniversaries, homage to ancestors, and marriages are celebrated elaborately in Nepal.

Dashain Festival of Nepal

Introduction

Dashain is the biggest festival in Nepal. Dashain is celebrated by Nepalese people with great excitement. It is normally in the month of October but sometimes in late September. This festival is the longest and the most important of all festivals in Nepal. It falls in the best time of the year when fruits, vegetables and other foods are in plenty. And, all animals are well fed and healthy.

It is said that Dashain is a celebration of the victory of the gods over the wicked demons. More sophisticated people think it as a message that good will always wins over bad in the end. And, we all should stand on the side of the good even when the bad side may look to be stronger.

The Preparation

Before the first day of Dashain starts, people clean their houses, clean up the barns, paint white and red colours on the walls, paint the windows, repair the Aangan, repair the barns and trails in the villages, and paint the temples, schools and shelters with white clay. They buy new clothes, lots of food and spices. Then the celebration begins.

The fifteen days of Dashain

The fifteen days are said to mark the various events in the war between the gods and the demons.

These fifteen days of Dashain are celebrated as follows:

    • Day 1: Ghastapana: It is the first day of moon and represents the start of the battle. All weapons and tools in the households are gathered, cleaned and put in a room where Goddess Durga’s worship is commenced. Seeds of corn and barley are planted in a large planter of leaves and kept in dark in the worship room. These seeds would have grown to be yellow seedlings (Jamara) by the ninth day, when they are offered to Vishwa Karma and to all worshippers on the tenth day.
    • Day 2-7: Dwitia to Saptami: Represent the continuation of the battle.
    • Day 8: Ashtami: Animals are sacrificed in the temples of Goddess Durga asking for her help to win the battle.
    • Day 9: Nawami: People worship Durga in mass. Everyone goes to temple of Durga. Also Vishwa Karma (god of creativity) is worshipped at the room where all tools and weapons were kept and the tools are finally released from the room. All machinery like sewing machine, cars, carts and grinding mills are stopped and offerings are made to Vishwa Karma asking to protect from accidents and mishaps. This day signifies that everyone gets ready for the final battle.
    • Day 10: Vijaya Dasami: Goddess Durga defeats demon Mahishasur. Good finally wins over the bad. Victory is celebrated with exchanges of blessings and best possible food one can afford. Elders in the family give blessings to the young and put Tika and Jamara on their forehead. People are supposed to pay honor to and get blessings from the all surviving elders in the family clan. All people seem to be on the move as they try to visit as many relatives as possible to collect the most possible blessings.
    • Day 11-14: Ekadashi – Chaturthi: These days are for visiting elders that were too far to visit on the tenth day. Also if some difficulties prevented us from reaching home and elders. So Tika continues throughout Dashain.
    • Day 15: Purnima or Kojagrat Purnima: Dashain ends on the day of full-moon. On this day, people stay at home and rest. Laxmi (the goddess of wealth) is worshiped on this date. People are now ready to work and acquire virtue, power and wealth.

In Dashain, you want a tika from an older person in your family or from anyone. You want to receive blessings from as many wellwishers as you can. First you start in your family. The oldest person in your family gives Tika and blessings to the youngest then the second youngest and so on.

Anticipation, fun, hope, blessings and friendship come to you in Dashain, especially when you are close to your relatives and friends, and not in a far-away land and alone. You still write to your relatives or call them if you can and get thier thoughts and blessings even when you are far-far-away!

Dashain around the world

Dashain is celebrated around the world. In Canada, Nepalese are living in cities like Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and some in other parts of Canada. All these Nepalese celebrate Dashain.

There are Nepalese in many countries around the world. Wherever there is a community of Nepalese, they want to celebrate Dashain. Because the living outside is a bit different, all days of Dashain may not be celebrated as in Nepal. But they will definitely organize a big Dashain Party on Saturdays nearest to the Vijaya Dashami. You know, offices and schools are not closed for Dashain in Canada! Ha!

Even in other countries, you go to the oldest and older persons to get blessings. Young people and children are happy to receive such blessings! (Excuse a few snobby teenagers! Ha!) Your relatives or respected people give you blessings, money and gifts. In Canada, you get tika and good food from many. But expect the money and gifts only from your relatives! But here we organize a Dashain Party with big efforts, bigger efforts than in Nepal. In the party, there are dances and songs, and lots of good foods – snacks, dinner, and deserts.

Essays on Dashain

मेरो दशै � भीजन प्औडेल, ओटावा, क्यानाडा
My Dashain – Vision Paudel, Ottawa, Canada

दशैँ राम भगवानले रावणलाई मारेर राज्य विजय गरेको र दुर्गा भवानीले मैसासुरलाई मारेर भगवानहरुको राज्य फेरि भगवानहरुले पाउनु भएको हुनाले मनाइन्छ।

दशैँ १० दिन लामो हुन्छ। पाहिलो दिन घटस्थापनामा जमरा रखिन्छ। दशैँमा दुर्गा भवानीका ९ वटा रुपहरुलाई पुजा गरिन्छ। ति नौ दिन हरुमा शैलपुत्री, ब्रम्हचारिनी, चन्द्रघन्टा, कुश्मान्डा, स्कन्दमाता, कात्यायनी, कालीरात्री, महागौरी र सिध्धिदात्री देवी हरुको पुजा गरिन्छ। दुर्गा भवानीका यि ९ वटा रुपहरुलाई नब दुर्गा पनी भनिन्छ। दशैँको दसौँ दिन लाई बिजया दसमी भनिन्छ र यो दिनमा ठुलाबढाबाट टिका जमरा लगाइन्छ र असिस् पनी लिइन्छ।

हामीहरु यो बर्ष दशैको पार्टीमा गयौँ। पार्टीमा मैले साथीहरु, दाईभाइहरु, र दिदिबहिनीहरुलाई भेटें। पार्टिमा मिठो खानेकुराहरु खाईयो। पार्टीमा गितहरु सुन्यौं र नित्यहरु हेर्यौं। पार्टिमा रमाइलो भयो। पार्टी ६ बजे देखि साढें ११ बजे सम्म थियो।

दशैंको लागी नेपालमा केहि हप्ता बिदा हुन्थ्यो तर यहांको बिद्यालयमा बिदा हुँदैन। त्यही पनि बडा दसमीको दिन बिध्यालय गइएन। त्यो दिन ठुलाबडाले दिएको आसिस् लाग्छ भन्छन्। त्यासैले हामी आमा बुबाको आसिस् लिँदै र मिठा खानेकुराहरु खाँदै घरमै बसियो। अब तिहार कहिले आउला भनेर कुरिंरहेका छौँ।

दसैँ पार्टि (Dashain Party)
प्रयत्ना शर्मा, अटवा, क्यानाडा
Prayatna Sharma, Ottawa, Canada

सेप्टेम्बर ३०, २००६, शनिबार, साँझ पाँच बजे देखि बाह्र बजे सम्म फ्र्याङ्कोफोनी ड भ्यानिए हलमा हामी नेपालीहरुले हाम्रो महान चाड दसैँ बडा धुमधामसँग मनायौँ। दसैँ पार्टि एकदमै रमाइलो थियो। एकसए सत्तरि जति मान्छेहरु कार्यक्रममा भागलिन आएका थिए। निकै मिठो रात्रि भोज पछि दसैँको राम्रो साँस्क्रितिक कार्यक्रम सुरु भएको थियो।

साँस्क्रितिक कार्यक्रममा पहिलो नृत्य देखाउने कलाकार रुप्सि थिइन। तिनको �छिटको साडि� गीतको बोलमा नाचेको नृत्य राम्रो थियो । दोस्रोमा चैँ म �मुझे रङ्ग दे� गीतको बोलमा नाचेँ। यो तकछक भन्ने हिन्दि सिनेमाको गीत थियो। त्यसै गर्दै अरु साढे दुइ घन्टा सम्म रमाइलो साँस्क्रितिक कार्यक्रम प्रदर्सन भयो।

साँस्क्रितिक कार्यक्रम पछि स्वयमसेबकहरुले आ-आफ्नो जिम्मेबारि पुरा गरेको र धेरै राम्रो काम गरे बापत प्रमाणपत्रहरु पाए। अन्तिममा ओपन-फ्लोर नाचको कार्यक्रम भयो। साढे एघार बजे सम्म नाचे पछि हामी सबैजना घर जाने सुरसार गर्न थाल्यौँ।

समग्रमा यो दसैँको कार्यक्रम एकदमै रमाइलो भयो।

How is Dashain Party organized?

Dashain Party is organized with lots of preparation. It requires planning for a long time and lots of work for a long time. Here are some of the work the Nepalese Canadian Association of Ottawa (NCAO, www.nepalese.ca) does to organize great party every year.

Preparation: One of the first works is preparation work. This work includes hall booking, calling meetings of community members, and forming committees to do different works. Many committees are formed. Some of the committee are named like: program committee, food and drinks committee, decoration committee, program committee, and M.C.

Program Committee: Program committee’s work is difficult. They book program hall and halls to practice the program long before the preparation for the party begins. They coordinate work of all other committees. They set what time the party starts, who brings what, who decorates, when different foods are served, who looks after children, and so on. They prepare appreciation letters for volunteers and collect names of all those who help the community. They write invitation letters, make fliers, write welcome and thank-you speeches. They write speech for the M.C. and they invite people to the party. A day before the party, they send reminders. To remind people, they e-mail, phone, prepare posters and update websites.

Food Committee: There is also a food committee. They select menu for snacks, select menu for menu for dinner, and menu for dessert. They also have to decide who is going to bring in snacks, dinner, and dessert. They mostly order food from restaurant. So they need to know how much food to order. But some people do need to bring in food.

Cultural Committee: In the cultural committee, you have to select artists for singing, dancing, drama, playing music, dance-teaching, dress making, music selecting, and many other things. They have to arrange who is first, second, third and so on. Somebody has to put on makeup for the dancers and somebody has to tell them what to bring for dancing cloth or they night have some cloth that you can were. Some people have to teach dance to people who want to dance but they don’t know who to dance.

Decorations Committee: In a Dashain party, you need lots of nice decorations. They bring nice decorative items like, copper vases called “Gagri”, flowers, flags, table clothes, decorative light, banners and signs. They decide where to put the vases, welcome banner, NCAO banner. They also decide where to put the Nepali flag and the Canadian flag, balloons, table decoration and also a table sign. That’s what the Decoration committee does. The decoration committee makes a plan in the paper on how the table and decorative items are to be set. They give list of all items they need and all tables and chairs they need to the program committee to arrange. They give list of decorative items to be purchased to purchase committee.

Drinks Committee: This committee looks after drinks for the participants. They bring in water, coffee, juice, and soft drinks. When the drinks run out somebody refills it. They calculate how much drinks they need to bring in. For that they approximate the maximum number of people and how much one per son may drink. They decide drinks for the children and for the adult. The Drink Committee looks after arranging drinks, serving for little children, clean up the spills and bring in bucket to collect spills. They clean up everything at the end.

Purchase Committee: They go and buy all necessary items for the party. They buy cups, plates and decorative items. They get request from everyone and then they buy what they need. They buy prizes for the raffle and volunteers. The dancers, singers and other volunteers get prizes and certificates prepared by the committee.

Accounting Committee: They keep track of people, their name, address, and membership. They sell program tickets and raffle tickets. They collect money from people who bought the tickets. They also tally loss and profit of the program.

Dashain Party of 2006 (BS 2063)

Dashain DanceThe Dashain party was held in a place called Centre Francophonie de Vanier on September 30th. The party started by decorations. In the beginning, there were the Decoration and Organizing Committee members in the hall. They planned and started the decorations. They had a great time working together.

Dashain Dance Around 6 o’clock people started to come. While some people were still decorating, some were warming up the food. After warming up the snacks, they set the snacks up on the table at the gate. Now the registration booth had people to register the guests. As people registered, the food committee had already set up the snacks. After everyone took the snacks, the volunteers cleared up the table. Soon the NCAO started the welcoming speech. Now the dinner started with good Nepali food and drinks.

Dashain Dance Dashain Dance The crowd, satiated with good food now, needed a great entertainment. The cultural program was started exactly at 8:00PM. There was a little brake for dissert, which was served from the side table. The cultural program was a great fun. The dances, drama and songs were well prepared. Lots of clapping and cheers made the artists feel really great. Everyone said that the program was very well prepared and well done.

Dashain Dance After the last dance, Nepalese Canadian Association of Ottawa distributed Certificate of Appreciations to all the volunteers of the Nepali School and the Annual Food Drive. The formal program was ended with a Thank You speech.

Dashain Dance The formal program was ended with distribution of certificates to the volunteers and a Thank-You speech. With the end of the formal program, everyone started cleaning up. When the cleaning up was done, the floor was opened for everyone to dance. People had a great fun dancing like this. At the end of the open-floor dance, we cleaned up again. Everyone left after 11:30 in the night.


Susma Dhakal The content of this page is developed by Susma Dhakal, a Grade 5 student of Leslie Park Public School, Ottawa, Canada. The Nepali Language Class, to which Susma is a student was made possible due to collaborative efforts of Nepalese Canadian Association of Ottawa (www.nepalese.ca) and Ottawa Carleton District School Board (ocdsb.ca).

After our students research all the material and write their material with the best of their abilities, our teachers correct them and enhance the grammar and writing to make them presentable to all people around the world.