Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chaite Dashain

This is the smaller of the two Dashain that are celebrated by most Nepalese people. The Bigger Dashain sometimes referred to as Bada Dashain falls in Sept-Oct and is celebrated for ten days while the Chaite Dashain falls in spring around Mar-April.

This smaller Dashain lasts for only two days and is named after the month during which it is held. Legend has it that the Goddess Devi Durga appeared in her most powerful form in order to protect the weak from the wicked. Hence Devi is worshipped on this day.

It was Durga who helped Ram (incarnation of Vishnu), the central character of the epic Ramayana, in defeating his arch foe Ravan. It is believed Ram was eventually successful in killing Ravan on the 9th of the Nepali month Chait (Chaitra), so the second day of the festival is called Ram Nawami. (Nawami = ninth day).

An important aspect of this festival as also of Bada Dashain is the animal sacrifices, which are essential to appease Goddess Durga. Hence blood sacrifices are carried out in the temples of the Mother Goddesses who are manifestations of Goddess Durga. Many water buffaloes and goats are sacrificed during this festival. Major sacrifices take place near the Hanuman Dhoka palace at the guardhouse and also at Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Tourists may take photographs of the sacrifices from a distance.

The story goes that Ravan the demon king kidnapped Ram's wife Sita and disappeared. Ram then invoked Goddess Durga and destroyed Ravan. Another version of the story has Sita taking the form of Goddess Kali, the dangerous form of Durga and killing Ravan with her own hands.

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