Nepal: Celebrating Dashain festival

Bibek Paudal discusses the controversy regarding whether the new Maoist Prime Minister observed Dashain festivities (15 days long national festival of Nepal) or not. He reminds: “Dashain is a Nepalese festival, not a Hindu festival. Calling Dashain anything other than a social-cultural festival is undermining the many unique Nepalese elements it symbolizes.”

5 comments

  • I didn’t read the blog. but what??
    Dasain is just a Nepali name for Navratri-Dussehra-Durga puja. It is one and the same holiday. Of course it is observed differently in Calcutta (Durga puja pandals), Gujarat (garbha dancing), Mysore (Mysore Dussehra) etc., but it is the same. This is like saying French Noel is not Merry Christmas.

  • If you didn’t read it, you missed it.

    Dashain IS NOT a Nepalese name for “Navratri-Dussehra-Durga.” We have words for that. Dashain is a cultural festival, not a religions one in Nepal.

    Stop giving uninformed and uneducated opinions about someone else’s culture. And yes, I have stayed long enough in India to say this.

    Bibek

  • If there are names for all those things, what are they? how come no one ever uses them? and how come I have never heard them in 4 years of living in Nepal?

    If Dashain is not Hindu, why do the Buddhists including lots of Newar Buddhists not celebrate it? It is a Hindu holiday. Taleju is a Hindu goddess, one who originally came from India.

    YES, there are different ways Dashain is celebrated in different places…there are different ways to observe Christmas too. It’s the same holiday. Again, what are the other names and why does no one use them?

    Naturally if some groups such as Muslims are able to get several days’ holiday, they will ‘celebrate’ along with everyone else. The same goes for the Jews at Christmastime. It doesn’t mean they are celebrating Christmas.

    Would you also maintain that Tihar is not Diwali? Bhai tikka is not Bhai Dhooj?

    Mha Puja and Indra Jatra — There are 2 unique Nepali festivals.

  • I did read the article and came away no wiser. It does demonstrate one way in which Dashain is different from the other holidays, nor does it demonstrate that Dashain can be ever separated from goddess Durga/ Taleju.

    By the way, I think that just because it has a Hindu origin doesn’t mean it has not become a pan-Nepali festival for all Nepalis in some way. That doesn’t change its origins which are rooted in the 9-day goddess festival, in whatever permutation.

    In the future the Nepali people themselves will decide whether they want a Christian, Muslim or atheist president to preside over the ceremonies; it will be an interesting evolution of the rich culture. Where it’s headed does not change where it came from.

  • If you “think that just because it has a Hindu origin doesn’t mean it has not become a pan-Nepali festival for all Nepalis in some way,” you’ve contradicted your whole point. I haven’t tried to question on the Hindu origins of the festival. But also remember that the festival has more to do with the farmers and their lifestyle. That’s what I mean by the cultural and social aspects of the festival. It is a time just after monsoon (a season for paddy) and before winter (a season for another plantation time), and the elements like, tika (rice), jamara (another symbol of crops), good food, new clothes, family gathering etc speak volumes on that.

    See Dashain in two parts: the religious, Hindu traditional rituals (which most Hindus observe) and the cultural, social (which even atheist and non-Hindus observe). While you noticed “Buddhists including lots of Newar Buddhists” not celebrating Dashain, it’s strange that you didn’t notice a larger section of Buddhist community observing the festival. Buddhism and Hinduism are deeply related in Nepal, go around a few temples of both religions, talk to the caretakers, and you’ll understand what I mean.

    I don’t get why you’re so specific about Taleju. Taleju is only one of the goddesses worshiped by Hindus during Dashain. And saying that Taleju is an Indian goddess because she came from India is very childish. In ancient Southasia, Nepal, India and surrounding areas were all one, so all of them share the history. Shiva isn’t a Nepali god because he’s believed to have lived near Nepal. Being an bigger country doesn’t make India the sole owner of everything Hindu or Buddhist for that matter. Sanskrit, the Vedas (Nepal has been mentioned for about 170 times in the Vedas) etc are as much Nepali as they are Indian. So, if Nepal adopted the Hindu festival of Bijaya Dashami and Kaalratri in its own way, that doesn’t make it any less unique. Besides, Nepal and Assam are the centres of Tantric-Hinduism; so it’s not unnatural for them to have some uniqueness to common Hindu festivals too.

    I don’t know where in the post did I say that Nepal can’t ever have a non-Hindu president/prime minister. Even if not for the Nepalese people, the Christian missionaries will ensure that- so much for the foreign donor aggression. (Forget religious and cultural for the time being).

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