Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dashain in Dolakha

DASHAIN, the biggest Hindu festival always begins with Ghatasthapana (this year sept 30th). This great occasion falls on the first day of bright fortnight of Ashwin (Sep/Oct). Ghatasthapana literally means the ritualistic installation of a ceremonial water jar, which marks the advent of Dashain.
This ceremonial jar filled with holy water symbolises the supreme creative power of Devi Durga, the universal mother goddess whom we worship during the entire period of festival. This festivity continues for ten full days. Hence comes the name Dashain meaning the ten-day long celebration.
One of the most fascinating highlights of this festival is the animal sacrifice, which is offered to Devi Durga on the 8th day of Dashain popularly known as Mahashtami. The animals selected for the sacrificial purpose are of five different kinds. They are water buffalos, goats, sheep, chickens and ducks. According to the traditional belief, the water buffalo symbolises anger, goats and sheep stand for lust and stupidity whereas chicken and ducks stand for timidity and apathy respectively.
Some of the important puja materials required for Ghatasthapana ceremony include barley seeds, a holy water jar, a big clay pot, some flowers and of course, the wet sand from the river. The one who is to perform the Ghatasthapana rites must be either the family priest or the eldest person in the family. It is quite interesting to watch the performance of this traditional ritual. First of all the sand is laid at a place chosen for the purpose. Then the ceremonial jar is placed in the middle of it and barley seeds strewn all over with the chanting of hymns to Devi Durga. After this is done the worshipper will cover up the silt by a huge clay pot. The seeds will grow into their full splendour in another few days.
This particular period of nine days is called Nawaratri. It represents the devotees’ deep devotion to Devi. Many believe that this is the best time of the year to evoke Devi to have one’s desire fulfilled. This practice seems to follow the puranic injunctions very strictly.
On the seventh day of Ghatasthapana, the navapatriva for phulpati are carried by the helpers from the Rajkuleshwor Mandir to Bhimeshwor mandir and it ends with small goat sacrifice at outside of the Bhimeshwor Temple. On the eightth day, "Maha Asthami" is the day of great sacrifice. The fervor of worship and sacrifice to Durga and Kali increases. Many people outside from Dolakha town come to sacrifice goats, chicekns, ducks and buffaloes in Bhimeshwor temple, this bhimeshwor temple is also worship as a Devi Durga. Local Dolakhali Newar people do not sacrifice on this day, they sacrifice on Maha Nawami (9th day). Sacrifices are held in almost every house through out the day. The eighth day night of dashin is also observed as "Kal Ratri", the dark night. Hundreds of goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and buffaloes are sacrificed at the Bhimeshwor Temple.
Photo of the Jamara
On the ninth day of Ghatasthapana the priest or the eldest member in the family picks up some lovely Jamara (seedlings) for worshipping Devi Durga. The brightness and freshness of Jamara add a lot of colour and grace to the ceremonial atmosphere of Dashain. It always reminds one of the blooming beauty of Kumari, the living goddess who presides over many important ceremonies during the entire period of this great occasion. Local Newari people go to Bhimeshwor temple for sacrifice goats, chicken, sheeps, ducks and buffaloes on this day.
The 10th day of dashain, the festivities reach the heights on Vijaya Dashami otherwise known as Tika. All sacrifices come to an end this day. It is said that Rama gained victory killing Ravana and Durga slaying Mahisasura. Hence, Vijaya Dashami is the day of victory. This is the day of family reunion and get togethers with relations. Juniors are especially visited to receive tika, a paste of vermilion, rice and curd and Jamara from them. Tika is the symbol of triumph and power of female deities. Therefore, the elders, while putting tika on the forehead of their juniors, read out the blessings in Sanskrit.
Dressed in their best attires, people move from one place to another to convey their respects, receive tika and blessings, exchange greetings and partake of sumptuous food and drink. Some communities receive tika on the tenth day only while others enjoy rest of the five days too. Those who put on tika to juniors are offered some gifts and those who receive tika are offered fruits and snacks afterwards. Swings of various types are one of the major attractions of the festival. Even the old people swing in the belief that one should relieve the mother earth of one"s burden at least once a year on Vijaya Dashami. Children and teenagers enjoy swings most. Swings in most cases are special to Bada Dashain and Tihar principally in the countryside. On this day, two thami men must make the trek from the village Dumkot to Dolakha bazaar, where they strip down to loincloths and drink the fresh blood of a buffalo calf sacrificed in the Devikot temple courtyard. By drinking the blood, the thami are believed to clear the way for Newar fighters to win the battles against evil in the Khadga Jatra Festival, which takes place on the following day. This festival is called as Hipa thami festival.Photo of the Thami people come to Dolakha bazaar from Dumkot village to drink fresh blood of buffalo

Photo of the Khadga Jatra

On the 11th day of Dashain Khadga Jatra is celebrated and many people come this town to see this festival. In this festival, some local people show the historical dance with 'Khadga'.

Untill 15th day of Ghatasthapana, we can receive Tika and celebration of Dashain is finished after this day.

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