The 15-day Dashain, the greatest Hindu festival, began from Wednesday with the Ghatasthapana across the country. Temples of the goddess of power, Durga, were crowded with the devotees today and the next ten days.
The 10 days of Dashain have their own different significances. The first day of Dashain (Wednesday) is called Ghatasthapana, which literally means pot establishing. On this day, the kalash (holy water vessel) symbolising goddess Durga is placed in the prayer room. The kalash is filled with holy water and covered with cowdung in which seeds are sown. Traditionally nine different grains were sown, but now people usually sow maize and barley grains.
A small rectangular block is made of sand and mud mixture and the kalash is placed in the centre. The surrounding bed is also seeded with grains. The kalash is worshipped everyday, once in the morning and then in the evening. The kalash and the sand are sprinkled with holy water everyday and it is shielded from direct sunlight. By the tenth day, the seeds will have grown to five or six inches long.
The sacred grass is called jamara, which symbolises good harvest. It is bestowed by the elders on the heads of those younger to them during tika that extends till Purnima. The jamara is taken as a prasad of Goddess Durga as well as the elders blessing.
The Ghatasthapana ritual is performed at a certain auspicious moment determined by the astrologers.
At that particular moment the priest intones a welcome, requesting goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence.
Pujas of Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, Mahasaraswati, among others were performed as per the Vedic tradition at Dashain Ghar, Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, in Kathmandu and seeded Jamara for the continuous nine days.
Nine incarnations of Durga—Shailputri, Bramhacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhiratri—are worshiped during the Dashain festival.
On the seventh day of Phoolpati, the auspicious time to march the procession of Tulajabhawani has fallen at 11:03am and 11:55 for Thirashan, said Prof Dr Madhav Prasad Bhattarai, chairman, PNSN. “The auspicious occasion to have Tika on the tenth day—Dashain—is at 10:43am. Tika however can be received throughout the day,” said Dr Bhattarai.
The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolised by goddess Durga slaying the Mahisasur, a demon, who terrorised the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo.
The first nine days signify the nine days of battle between goddess Durga and Mahisasur. The 10th day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolise the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess.
Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and Durga is worshiped throughout the country as the divine mother goddess.
On the last day people stay at home and rest. The full moon day is also called ‘Kojagrata’ meaning ‘who is awake’. The Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi is worshiped on the day.