Across Nepal, many of our students, teachers and team have been celebrating the Hindu festival of Dashain. UWS Nepal Education Director, Avinash Jha, explains what it's all about.

What is Dashain?

Dashain is the longest Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal. It is also celebrated in some parts of India where it is called Dashera. This festival is celebrated for fifteen days, which starts on the 'bright half' of the lunar month - usually in September/October - and ends on the full moon day. This year, the festival started on 10th October and ended on 24th October.

There are a several mythological stories attached to this festival. One of the most common explains how Dashain honours ‘the victory of gods over demons’. The symbol of power we celebrate, Goddess Durga, is also believed to be the collective strength of all gods and goddesses gathered in one form.

UWS Education Director, Avinash, receiving a traditional Red Tika on his forehead during Dashain festivities

What is the Cultural Significance?

Although the religious aspects of the festival are most prominent, this festival is, in fact, the ceremony of reunion, togetherness, and unity among friends and family. Dashain is associated with buying new clothes, eating good food, playing cards, inviting guests to your home, flying kites, building bamboo swings (called “ping”) and getting involved in various entertaining activities. It is a relaxing time of the year!

Dashain Traditions

Kite flying is believed to send a reminder to god not to send any more rain. In most towns and villages, swings are set up especially for Dashain on the tallest bamboo poles, where people gather to watch and take turns flying into the sky. There is a tradition to swing at least once in this festival. They say that if you leave the ground swinging in Dashain, the swing will take away ill feelings and replace it with rejuvenation.

How Does Dashain Affect Rural Communities?

One of the most important aspects of Dashain is the huge business that comes with the festival. There is a massive flow of sales of animals, grains, vegetables, alcohol, fruits and sweets. New clothes are considered essential, and for the majority of people living in rural villages, it is the only time of year when they buy new clothes. Old houses are cleaned, renovated and painted. Every sector of the economy experiences a boost around this time of the year. A lot of people travel within the country to return home. For many, this is the only time when they can afford to be extravagant. On top of this, sunny, cool days, along with the scent of flowers, give a special atmosphere to the festival.

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