Dashain is soon to be upon us. The first day of the ten day festival is October 8th and it ends on October 17th.
A reader asked me what she might be able to do for her Nepali partner for Dashain. In her specific situation he is across the country. I brought the topic up at dinner last night to see if my in-house Nepali focus group had any ideas.
AS: “That’s tough… Dashain is all about getting together with family and eating lots of food. So if you are far away? I don’t know.”
P: “Make some goat curry and send it through the mail.”
Hmmm… not the most helpful advice.
So I was googling around during lunch today and found a website that explained the importance of Dashain in Nepali culture and the individual aspects of it quite well. It’s not necessarily specific advice, but it might give some ideas:
Dashain is big in Nepal mainly for the following :
- Holidays – Rest and Relaxation for nearly 10 days!
This is the longest festival in Nepal. It allows one to travel and be with family and friends for up to a week or more.
- Shopping – Clothes for wife, children, dad, mum… In spite of extreme hardship, during the festival season, Nepalese families manage to shop if not for all, but at least for the children. Clothes are the most selling item during the season. Those who could not afford to wear even a single new cloth in the entire year will now attempt!
- Eating – Meat Products, Sweets, Fruits, and meat products again! Dashain’s most popular cuisine is meat, and in popularity order are goat meat, sheep, buffalo, duck, and chicken. Meat is expensive and poor to middle class families usually cannot afford it. So dashain is the time of eating lots of meat. Usually animals are bought live from the animal market such as Kalanki Bazaar, Bag Bazaar, and sacrificed at home or in temples. At home, the whole family is involved in cutting and preparing the meat which usually lasts for 2 to 3 days of feast. But some family prefer to buy the meat already prepared by Butchers
- Visiting – Meet your Family and Friends near and far
Dashain is also about forgiveness, kindness and respect, all of which prevails so broken families come together. Cities suddenly seems to empty itself, more people returning back in villages or terai (lower, flat region of Nepal) than that of people joining families in cities. During this season, city rushes to book tickets, bus or plane!
- Kites – Children love the season also for flying Kites
If you visit Kathmandu or any other city during this season, the day-sky is filled with colorful kites like shinning stars in the night!
- Tika and Love – Receiving and Giving Tika and Respect.
Getting a tika from an older person in your family or from relatives or from anyone is a blessing. Dashain tika begins from the oldest person in your family giving tika to the youngest then the second youngest in the family and so on. Faith, hope, inspiration and blessings, all come alive in Dashain.
- Money Notes – stacks of notes to give!
Receive a tika and offer money notes as an appreciation. Popular Dashain notes are Rupees 2, 5, 10, and Rupees 25. Everybody tries to exchange for smaller and new notes, so banks are usually busy during the season.
- Cleaning – Clean and decorate homes
Walls get a new coat of paints, roads are cleaned better than before, temples are decorated with lights, villagers join together to clean and build new trails, paint their homes using red-colored mud. People clean themselves mentally too by visiting various temples and worshiping during the festival.
- Puja – Worshiping God for Peace and Prosperity. Various pujas are performed from beginning to the end of Dashain.
- Gambling – although not legal in Nepal, but it’s played! Playing cards are popular during Dashain. Usually family members play cards with each-other or with friends for money.
Perhaps you could send or gift your loved one a new shirt or pair of pants and some playing cards, cook a goat curry meal, and/or send Dashain greetings to Nepali family and friends. If you live in a community with Nepali people, you might visit the homes of elder Nepalis for tikka.
Other ideas out there?