Dashain is the biggest and the longest festival of Nepal. It is a 15-day long festival celebrated by Hindu people, who form the largest population of Nepalese. Government offices, corporate businesses, educational institutions, etc. all remain closed during this festival period. Since another festival Tihar, which is a 5-day festival and the second biggest festival of Nepal, is just a few days apart, people often extend their vacation to a month to celebrate both these festivals.
Relatives from far and near places visit each other during this festival, especially by leaving the cities or countries where they work and going back to their hometown or village to be together with their family and close ones. Therefore, a large migration always tends to occur during this time, and the roads of Kathmandu tend to be unusually quiet and free of traffic.
This festival is primarily a celebration of victory of Good over Evil. For some it is related to the victory of Lord Rama (the main hero of the great Hindu epic Ramayana) over Ravana (the ten-headed demon). However, for others, it is a celebration of the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. Whichever it may be, it is nevertheless a festival that celebrates the victory of Good over Evil.
The main day of Dashain is called Vijaya Dashami. It is believed that it was on this day that Rama finally managed to kill Ravana. Therefore, in some places, people celebrate this day by burning huge effigies of Ravana. According to another legend, it is said that a demon called Mahishasura once caused such terror among gods that they had to take refuge in the goddess Durga to get rid of him. Durga then appeared in ten different manifestations over a period of ten days and finally succeeded in defeating Mahishasura on the tenth day. The ten days of this festival symbolize the battle that took place between the two. Therefore, you will definitely see people worshipping effigies of Goddess Durga during this festival. Another fun activity you will likely witness during this festival is the flying of kites all over the city. You will inevitably see people flying kites from their home or from public fields and competing with each other.
Dashain generally falls in early October and sometimes in late September. This is also the season when it is the most ideal time to visit Nepal since it is autumn season and the weather is likely to be just right. Also the skies will be clear most of the day, giving you plenty of opportunities to grab spectacular views of the faraway mountain ranges. All these things make this festival the biggest and the most important festival of Nepal.
Things you are likely to be engaged in if you participate in this festival:
- Worship effigies of Lord Rama and Goddess Durga.
- Observe Nepalese putting tikas on their forehead and wearing new, colorful clothes.
- Enjoy watching kids flying kites from the roof of their home or from public fields.
- Witness animals, especially goats, being slaughtered as a sacrifice (Bali) for gods.
- Eat awesome Nepalese foods of different varieties.