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Celebrating Vijaya Dashami 2024: A Festival of Triumph in Nepal

Home » Blog Post » Festivals of Nepal » Celebrating Vijaya Dashami 2024: A Festival of Triumph in Nepal

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Vijaya Dashami, also known as Dashain, is the most anticipated and celebrated festival in Nepal, celebrating the triumph of Goddess Durga against the demon king Mahishasura. This major festival takes place in the lunar month of Ashwin, typically falling in September or October, and spans 15 days. In 2024, it begins in late September, filled with diverse and meaningful rituals that boost community spirit. If you’re planning to visit Nepal during this period, each day of Dashain offers a distinct cultural experience. Here’s your guide to fully appreciate and enjoy every aspect of this spectacular festival.

The Mythical Origins of the Dashain Festival

Goddess Durga’s Triumph Over Mahishasura

Dashain revolves around the myth of Goddess Durga from the ancient Hindu Puranas. It recounts how Mahishasura, impervious to men, wreaked havoc in the heavens, leading the gods to create Durga. Equipped with divine weapons from Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, Durga fought Mahishasura for nine days and nights. On the tenth day, Vijaya Dashami, she triumphantly beheaded the demon. Dashain’s rituals and celebrations focus on this story, commemorating Durga’s victory and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

Lord Ram’s Victory in the Ramayana

Dashain also celebrates another significant victory from Hindu mythology — that of Lord Ram over the demon king Ravana, as narrated in the Ramayana. This story recounts Rama’s fight against Ravana, who had abducted his wife, Sita. On Vijaya Dashami, Lord Ram sought blessings from Goddess Durga, which empowered him to conquer Ravana and save Sita. This victory is celebrated during Dashain as it echoes the festival’s theme of victory over wickedness.

In parts of India, Vijaya Dashami is marked by the burning of Ravana effigies, symbolically eliminating evil and cleansing moral and spiritual impurities. This ritual emphasizes Dashain’s universal message: the power of righteousness and the triumph of good over evil.

Festive essentials for Dashain: A tray displaying yellow incense sticks, red vermilion powder (tika), yellow paste, and fresh marigold and other flowers, commonly used during the Dashain festival in Nepal to bless and honor family members.
Dashain Festival Offerings: Vibrant vermilion tika powder, yellow paste, incense sticks, and fresh marigold flowers, essential for Nepal’s most celebrated festival.

Dashain Festival Guide

Day 1: Ghatasthapana (Starting Date: September 30, 2024)

  • Rituals: The festival starts with Ghatasthapana when barley seeds are planted in a sand-filled pot to grow Jamara, the sacred yellow grass.
  • Places to Visit: Experience this day in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, where locals gather to perform this ritual in communal areas, setting the festive mood.

Day 7: Fulpati (October 6, 2024)

  • Rituals: Fulpati celebrates abundance and prosperity with a procession that carries sacred plants from the village of Gorkha to the royal palace in Kathmandu.
  • Experience: Watch the vibrant parade at Basantapur Square, where a spectacular flurry of colours and sounds accompanies the traditional march.

Day 8: Maha Ashtami (October 7, 2024)

  • Rituals: This is the day for worshipping the fiercest form of Goddess Durga, Kali, and offerings and sacrifices often mark it.
  • Witness: Visit the renowned Dakshinkali Temple, a major location for witnessing traditional sacrifices and offerings outside Kathmandu.

Day 9: Maha Navami (October 8, 2024)

  • Rituals: On the penultimate day of Navaratri, tools, vehicles, and books are worshipped as embodiments of the goddess.
  • Visit: In Patan’s industrial zones, craftsmen and artisans perform puja on their tools and demonstrate their skills to spectators.

Day 10: Vijaya Dashami (October 9, 2024)

  • Rituals: The most auspicious day is when elders apply Tika (a red mark) and give blessings along with Jamara to younger members of the family.
  • Join : Any local community in the city of Bhaktapur, where you can experience these rituals firsthand and receive blessings from elders.

Days 11 to 15: Purnima (October 10-14, 2024)

  • Rituals: The festival winds down, but the celebrations continue as people visit relatives to exchange gifts and good wishes.
  • Savour: Enjoy the scenic beauty and festive atmosphere in Pokhara, where the shores of Phewa Lake offer stunning views and a relaxed environment to reflect on the festival’s significance.

Rituals and Traditions of Vijaya Dashami

Receiving Tika and Blessings from Elders 

During Vijaya Dashami, a key ritual involves elders applying Tika, a sacred mixture of rice, yoghurt, and vermilion, to the foreheads of younger family members, symbolizing blessings. Accompanied by Jamara, the sprouted seeds from Ghatasthapana, these blessings represent the transfer of power, strength, wisdom, and prosperity. This ritual underscores the significance of family ties, lineage, and blessings in Nepalese culture.

Family Reunions and Gatherings

The festival acts as a magnet, drawing family members back to their ancestral homes for grand reunions. Homes bustle with the laughter and joy of family members who may only gather once a year. Traditional dishes, particularly goat meat (Khasi Ko Masu) and other festive foods are prepared, reinforcing familial ties through shared meals and memories.

Kite Flying and Cultural Programs

Vijaya Dashami is also celebrated with various outdoor activities, particularly kite flying. This vibrant recreational activity holds symbolic significance, representing the ascendance over evil. Communities across Nepal also host cultural programs, including dance and music performances, which display the country’s artistic heritage and create a lively atmosphere.

Auspicious Beginnings

Vijaya Dashami is considered an auspicious day to start new ventures. Many people choose this day to start new businesses, purchase significant items, or embark on major projects. This tradition arises from the belief that starting a new endeavour on this day will bring success, thanks to the divine blessings present during the festival.

An Invitation to Experience Vijaya Dashami

For tourists, Vijaya Dashami provides a unique chance to experience the richness of Nepal’s cultural and spiritual life. Visitors frequently receive invitations to join Nepalese families in the Tika ceremony, providing a unique insight into their rich traditions. The atmosphere buzzes with music, dance, and the vibrant sight of kites soaring above Nepal’s stunning landscapes.

Vijaya Dashami transcends a mere festival, embodying the values, beliefs, and communal spirit of the Nepalese people. For anyone seeking a rich cultural journey, visiting Nepal during this festive season is ideal. Whether engaging in the familial Tika ceremony, savouring communal feasts, or observing the diverse cultural festivities, Vijaya Dashami offers a profoundly enriching and memorable experience.

Embracing tradition: A foreign guest joins a Nepali family in celebrating Vijaya Dashami, experiencing the rich cultural heritage firsthand.
Embracing tradition: A foreign guest joins a Nepali family in celebrating Vijaya Dashami, experiencing the rich cultural heritage firsthand.

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