Celebrating big in Nepal…The Dashain Festival

Celebrating big in Nepal…The Dashain Festival

We happen to be here in Nepal during Dashain Festival, one of the biggest and most important ten day celebrations of the Hindu culture.    2.7 million people have driven to Kathmandu to celebrate with flowers, colors, and blessings, by flying kites, feasting on food, shopping, visiting family, and giving gifts.  There will be ten days of festivity in the courtyards of the palaces for all to celebrate.  No wonder the traffic has been so crazy!

Dashain Festival in Patan Durbar Square

Durbar Square Palace Entrance

According to Hindu mythology, when the world is filled with evil, the people pray for the goddess of power, Durga, the destroyer of Evil.  She will destroy those wishing to do evil, making the country peaceful and prosperous.

The first day of the festival begins with elders of the family plant a grass called Jamara. For 9 days offerings of flowers, fruits and prayers are given to the goddess.

Offerings to the gods

During all ten days, there is a dance of the masks in the temple courtyard.  We arrived at a relatively quiet time, and within the next 30 minutes, it seemed like the entire town showed up to watch.  I was really fighting my way amongst the onslaught of people to try to get these photos!  I was holding my camera way over my head hoping for the best!

The crowd gathers for the mask dance
Money offerings to the dancers

I’m not sure why they bandage their heads, but I guess it’s part of the ritual.  The boys wearing the masks and flowers all look like they are in their teens.

Before the dance
Mask Dancer

At the end of the celebration, all of the masks are burned, so that the art of making them continues on each year.

I was caught right in the doorway when they were bringing in the statue of the power goddess, Durga, for display, into the courtyard for the festival.  If you look closely, you can see her shiny face draped in red netting, and wearing multitudes of marigolds.  Those are policemen, wearing the berets, escorting her into the courtyard, and blocking my camera view!  Darn!  But you can still see…it was quite a big deal for the people!

The 10th day of the Festival is called as Vijaya Dashami, the day of the victory which culminates if a giant festival in front of the palace.  We are only here for day 8, which might be a good thing.  I’m sure if we were in this crowd, we would definitely get lost!

The tenth day of the festival – holy mackerel!  What a celebration!

There have been a lot of temples and pagodas, but I think this might be one of my favorites.  Despite its name, the Golden Temple in Patan is neither golden, nor a temple! It’s a monastery, and shining with brass and bronze.

Golden Temple Entrance with my friend Cecilia, from Equador
Rooftops of the Golden Temple

The courtyard of this Buddhist place of worship is ringed with prayer wheels and dozens of bronze statues and statuettes of gods, goddesses and protectors.

In the Center Courtyard
Inside the courtyard
Is that a Dragon?
Brass Monkey and Prayer Wheels in the Golden Temple
Monk in the temple
The Golden Temple

Even with the constant stream of tourists coming in and out of this place, it was surprisingly peaceful and serene.  It was such a fascinating place, I could have stayed here all afternoon just to marvel at the mystery of it all.

What a surprise of a place Nepal has been.  Paris gets 68 million visitors a year.  Nepal only gets shy of 1 million.  I hope that will change for them.  Once you accept the country with all of it’s flaws…the dusty, dirty streets, the roads that are in much need of repair, the fact that are cows and goats in the road, this is an amazingly colorful place with a beauty living in this disintegrating city of past and present.  It’s an amazing place of mystery and wonder in a strange and exotic land.

This is the last post for this trip so we will see you again for the next adventure!


4 thoughts on “Celebrating big in Nepal…The Dashain Festival

  1. What a wonderful experience and thank you for sharing it with us!
    The guy ringing the big bell must be deaf by now.
    Did you bring back any prayer wheels or?
    Maybe they are lucky not to have more people coming to their country. It would change their country some more. A million tourists is enough.

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Monie Thompson