I read this in the most recent advisory published by the American Embassy in Kathmandu and thought I’d pass this along for those that would like a greater depth of knowledge of the gods (idols) and festivals that are worshipped in Hinduism.
It is that time of year for Nepal’s most auspicious festival, Dashain. The festival lasts 15 days and begins on September 19th this year. Dashain is a festival that celebrates a victory of the gods over the wicked demons. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorized the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo.
The first nine days signify the nine days of ferocious battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolize the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess.
Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and the goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the country as the divine mother goddess. It is a festival celebrated by all castes throughout Nepal. Families come together for the festivities and many return to their parental homes and partake in the festivities.
On the eighth day is Asthami, a day of sacrifices. Goddess temples all over the Kathmandu Valley receive sacrifices, ranging from goats and buffaloes to ducks and chickens. Blood, symbolic for its fertility, is offered to the goddesses. The meat is then taken home and cooked as “prasad”, or food blest by divinity.
This food is then offered, on tiny leaf plates, to the household gods, and eventually distributed amongst the family. Eating this food is thought to be auspicious. The sacrifices are abundant and many people give sacrifices to their modes of transportation. Cars, airplanes, trucks and other vehicles get blessed from the goddess Durga for protection of the vehicles and their occupants during the upcoming year.
Dashain ends on the full moon day, the fifteenth day. On the last day people stay at home and rest from the many days of the festivities.
Carl for Arise Medical Missions (Nepal)
(Reference Citation: American Citizen Services, Consular Section, Embassy of the United States of America, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, Nepal)