Durga Puja-’Dashain’- Glorious Festival in Nepal, India and Abroad
By Dirgha Raj Prasai : Nepal and India are the original land of Hinduism and human civilization. Muslim and Christian religions took birth long after the creation of Hindu religion and its civilization. An extensive and erudite amalgam of Hindu knowledge brings together the scholarly and the spiritual. It reflects the culture of one of the oldest and the riches living civilizations of the world in all its glory and splendor. It is proved that Jesus was influenced on Vedic Hindu philosophy. Hindus have always opened their hearts to all faiths across the globe, protected them, sheltered them, nourished them, never abused them, never terrorized them, and only allowed them total freedom to practice their faith without demeaning them, terrorizing them, destroying their places of worship and forcing them to convert. If we want to know the historical facts of invade by Muslims and Christians we should understand the reality and its pre-historical accounts.
In the context of religious festivals, Dashain (Vijaya Dashami) is a traditional cultural festivity in Nepal and India. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese and Indian society. In this year the festival starts from 2070 BS- 20 Ashoj, (2013 Oct 18th), Ghatastapana to the fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon (Kojagrat Purnima) 1st Kartic, 18th Oct. In Nepal, before Prithvi Narayan Shah (1868), the festival of Dashain and Tihar had been revered as a common culture of all castes. After Prithvi Narayan Shah, created a modern Nepal a new tradition was set by bringing Phulpati and Jamara to Kathmandu from the Gorakhkali Temple by a Magar priest. People from both the religion of Hindu and Buddha take Tika from senior family members in order of precedence after worshipping the main gate on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami.
Before the unification of India by East India Company, India was not called Hindustan. But, before 1868, the King, the creator of greater Nepal- Prithvi Narayan Shah- the Himawatkhanda-Nepal was called Hindu region. So, he had said-’Nepal is the real ‘Hindusthana’ at 1800 BS (1753, AD). During the time when Himwatkhanda Nepal remained a unified country the current powerful nations were divided into many smaller nations. The unifier of Germany Bismarck had unified Germany and existed in the façade of many smaller nations, a hundred years after Nepal’s unification. Italy was also divided into many smaller nations a hundred years before Nepal’s unification, which was transformed into a greater Italy by good sons as Kabur and Gyalibhardi. After the unification of Nepal-1868, the king Prithbinarayan Shah unified more than 54 small states and coordinated all the Hindu, Buddha and ethnic’s culture and traditions of the small Hindu state.
The identity of a nation fades away when its cultural belief is in a sequence. To avoid this Hindus, Buddhists and patriotic Nepali people scattered across the world must launch an initiation. We patriotic people of the nation pray to goddess Nava Durga Bhawani to be prosperous to the Nepalese People all around the world. Including, the all political Parties have to work far to come on the track to save the national traditions and culture. Dashain (worshipping Goddess Bhagawati for Power) and Tihar (worshipping Goddess Lakshmi for wealth) is a knot of cultural interrelationship among the Nepali people. Nepalese residing outside the nation take the festival as the identity of Gorkhali Nepali people spread across the world regardless of their caste and they exchange greetings and celebrate the festival in perfect cultural harmony.
Nepal is the pious Hindu country in the lap of the Himalayas, which is beautiful, quiet, the birth place of Buddha and origin of Hinduism. Lord Buddha is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu- the Hindu God. Besides being the country of Everest it is equally popular with its diverse cultural values. This is the land where civilization began and is also known as the country of ‘SANGRILA.’ Nepal is as holy place to Hindus & Buddhists, as Mecca for Muslims and Jerusalem to Jews and Christians.
Nepal is a rich and complex mix of different cultures and traditions, melded over thousands of years into a unique whole. For the western traveler there is much that is familiar, and many surprises. Family and religion are of paramount importance, and are constantly reflected throughout the culture. Culture provides essential information on attitudes, beliefs and behavior in different countries, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. It offers illuminating insights into the culture and society of a particular country. Nepal moves to a different rhythm than the West.
In Darjeeling, Sikkim, Duarsh, Asaam and Deharadun and Bhutan Dashain and Tihar (Light Day) is taken as an occasion of Gorkhas unity. Hindus in India, Burma,sri Lanka, Indonesia including other nation around the globe celebrate Dashain in their own ways. Dashain is common festival of poor and rich. Tika, a mixture of cord, red vermilion and rice is placed on the temple of the body by seniors. The ritual starts from Bijaya Dashami and lasts till full moon day with much zeal and merriment. Tika is received from father-mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, teachers and other revered senior members with blessings. Dashain is also important to Indian Hindus who celebrate the occasion without receiving Tika. That is why; the English-East India Company’s Christians had dictated with threatening to boycott the Tika- the symbol of Hindu. But, I suggest to all Indian Hindus to celebrate Vijay Dashmi with Tika in forehead-the Hindu symbol
Since time immemorial, Dashain is celebrated as a widespread festival and as a symbol of auspicious power. According to Hindu mythology, an ogre ‘Rakshes’ (monsters) by the name of Mahisasur had caused pain and suffering amongst humans. Then Goddess Durga Bhawani killed the monster to relieve the humans. Dashain is the festival symbolizing victory of truth over evil. The worshipping of the Nawadurga Bhawani during the Nawaratra (nine night of worship) from Ghatastapana is an ancient tradition. It is mentioned in the Devi-Puran-’Ram had proposed of launching war against Rawan in Lanka on the occasion of Bijayadashami in Ashwin Shukla Nawaratri’. Similarly, it is mentioned in the Padma-Puran- ‘Rama had killed Rawan on the day of Chaitra Shukla Chaturdashi.’
Nepali influenced by Christian religion has been creating numerous illusions with an aim to urge people to boycott the great festival. But some Christians celebrate Dadhain as a cultural value without Tika. There have been efforts to pollute the holly festival with the color of the political-party. Some people belonging to indigenous groups are competing with each other to show there are better by boycotting Dashain. But indigenous people living abroad are lashing out at the concept. Prof. Gopinarayan Pradhan of Darjeeling said- ‘the attempt to reduce the extensive Nepali identity to class based identity is sad.’ Swami Dr. Prapnanacharya said-’Estadev Mahadev, Parwati and Drawasam and Yumasan. Worshipping Nawadurga in Nawaratra is an ancient tradition. To pollute the ancient culture of receiving Tika on the day of Dashami or Bijayadashami at the right time is not wise.
People observe Tika receiving ceremony as an opportunity to resume past broken relations with their relatives and friends. This is a joyous festivity. Those have chosen to boycott the festival have made a mistake. This is their defeat. What can be achieved from loosing the identity? Dashain is an immense opportunity for the relatives living abroad to come together. The poor people, victims of perennial shortages, gather some to wear good clothes eat good food and celebrate the festival with joy. In reality it is not a Dashain religion, it is a traditional cultural belief. It should be kept alive. I hope that the King also come ahead in this year to offer Tika to the people. Then, we feel our glory. I extend to everyone the Greetings on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami 2070BS (2013 AD).