The Dashain Festival is one of the most important festivals in Nepali culture. It falls in September or October, lasting 10 days and ending on the full moon. It is a celebration of joy and the harvests as well as celebrating the fertility of the land and provision of food in the year to come. The festival symbolises the victory of good over evil in Hindu mythology, with the victory of the Goddess Durga over Mahishasura and the rakshas (demons).
On Monday the 26th October our boys celebrated one of the most important days of the Dashain Festival, the Vijaya Dashami. Typically on this day, the tenth day of the festival, elder members of the family give their blessing to the youngsters by putting a red mixture called tika on their foreheads. They also give small amount of money to symbolise their good wishes for abundance in the year to come. The red colour of the tika, a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermillion, represents blood as a symbol of strong family ties.
They have also built a very tall bamboo swing called a ‘ping’, part of the Dashain celebrations, which represents the spirit of the festival with joy and fun. It is built by the community with traditional methods demonstrating the local culture, tradition and community spirit.
The Dashain Festival is of particular importance in Nepali culture because it strengthens not only the bonds within the family but also ties to the community. On this occasion, families reunite from all over the country as well as from all over the world. As expected, this year it’s been a bit different due to coronavirus. Unfortunately this has created many reasons people may not be able to celebrate such as mourning the loss of someone close to them, economic hardship caused by the pandemic, because they are unable to travel or perhaps unwell themselves. Thankfully we have made sure that the boys at Birgunj Children’s Home have still been able to celebrate one of the longest and most auspicious festivals in Nepal.
It fills us with joy to see our boys celebrating this wonderful day of the year; receiving their blessings and enjoying nutritious food which symbolises the arrival of the harvest.
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