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Dashain (दशैं) is the 15-day national festival of Nepal, and a state festival of Indian states of Sikkim and the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It is also a national holiday in Bhutan. Now it is celebrated all around the world by the Nepalese diaspora. The festival falls around September-October, after the rice harvest. This festival is known for emphasis on family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. People will return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together.
The festival is a blend of Hindu Tantrik and animistic harvest festival traditions. On the first day, called Ghatasthapana, the "Dashain Ghar", or special worship room, is set up—this room is used to worship the Astha-Matrikas (the 8 tantrik goddesses) as well as the Nava Durgas (the 9 durga goddesses), to whom the festival is consecrated. Married women will say the mantras for the next fifteen days, and guard the goddesses. Barley is sowed on big earthern pots which have a coating of cow dung. These seeds will sprout in ten days. The sprouts, which symbolize a good harvest, will be decoratively placed on the heads of family members later on in the festival as a blessing.
Dashain's Tika and Jamara
The eighth day, Asthami, is the day of animal sacrifices. Goddess temples all over the Kathmandu Valley receive sacrifices, ranging from male goats and water buffaloes to ducks and chickens. Blood, symbolic for its fertility, is offered to the goddesses. This meat is taken home and cooked as "prasad", or food blessed by divinity. This food is offered, in tiny leaf plates, to the household gods, then distributed amongst the family. Eating this food is thought to be auspicious.
Sacrifices continue on Navami, the ninth day. Families will visit various temples around the Kathmandu Valley. On the tenth day, "Dashami," a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermillion will be prepared by the women. This preparation is known as "tika". Elders put this on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with fertility and abundance in the upcoming year. The red also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together. Elders will give "dakshina", or a small amount of money, to younger relatives at this time. The tika continues for five days, during which time people also gather to play cards around massive amounts of food and drink.
In several parts of Nepal, Dashain is the only time of the year when people receive a set of new clothing. Likewise, in poorer families, the animal sacrifice is eagerly anticipated since it might be the only animal protein the family would eat all year. This may be true in certain parts of Nepal where food is in low supply, but is less so in the cities. In general, the tradition of sacrifice is lessening with the easy availability of meat for daily consumption, and with the influences of Vaishnav Hindus (who are vegetarian).
In recent times, Dashain has become commercialized, with industries sponsoring events around the festival to sell goods.
Dashain  this year falls on September 28, 2009.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Festivals of Nepal: Dashain". Nepal Home Page: Travel Guide. http://www.nepalhomepage.com/society/festivals/dashain.html. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ "Sikkim steps into holiday season". The Sikkim Times. 2007-10-20. http://sikkimnews.blogspot.com/2007/10/sikkim-steps-into-holiday-season.html. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ "Darjeeling - Culture - Dashain". http://darjeelingonline.wordpress.com/culture/. Retrieved 2008-06-28. [dead link]
- ↑ "Bhutan Festivals and Events". http://www.windhorsetours.com/bhutan/festivals.php. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ "September Festivals". Explore Himalaya. 2009-09-27. http://www.explorehimalaya.com/blog/september-festivals/.