Dashain is the 15-day national and religious festival of Nepal. The festival is closely related to Navratri celebrated by Hindus in India. The festival falls around September-October, before the rice harvest.
This festival is known for emphasis on family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. People 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 Goddess Durga), 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.
On the seventh day, Fulpaati, the town of Gorkha sends an offering of flowers to Kathmandu. A band associated with the army also plays its music and goes through the old core of Kathmandu.
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 red colored 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 Lord Vaishnav Hindus, who are vegetarian.
Dashain in year 2010 started on 8th October 2010 and this picture was taken on the ninth day, the Navami. Bhaktapur, an old city not far away from the capital Kathmandu was incredibly colorful that day, with music bands performing music in the streets, families visiting the courtyards of temples and offering presents, children playing, elderly gathering in groups to sing and play… That was truly an awesome festival to experience…
Cropped, increased sharpness & brightness, applied retouches.
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paromitadey (623) 2011-08-15 22:55
A very interesting composition, the top POV has captured the festivity mood in the community gathering with people sitting in a circle with musical instruments ('dholaks') perhaps to sing and have fun together. The light and shade has added a mystery and mystic appeal to the shot.
Also, must thank you for adding such an elaborate and informative note in support of this pic. Loved reading and gaining knowledge about this festival. Being a Hindu I am aware of Navratri and Durga Pujas but was not acquainted with is variation of Navratri.
annjackman (20539) 2011-08-17 9:38
This picture is a real gem with lots of atmosphere created by the dark room with the lighting picking up enough of the room to make it interesting. A very well managed photo under difficult light conditions. It must have been a wonderful experience visting this place. I found your note very informative.
Kind Regards, Ann
- Copyright: Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) (3887)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2010-10-17
- Categories: Festivals
- Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG ASP HSM
- Exposure: f/6.3, 1/25 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Map: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2011-08-15 21:55