Dashain Articles

A few people (thanks AS and P) sent me articles today from the Nepali online journal Republica that I wanted to share:

The first is called “Nava Durga: Nine incarnations of the Mighty Devi Durga” and discusses the different incarnations of Durga (the power goddess) that are worshiped on different days of Dashain.

The second article was on Dashain tikkas and why some communities use red versus white or black.

(From the Republica article on Tikka): This picture illustrates to those who have never seen or participated in a Dashain tikka giving what it looks like. An older member of your family/community gives tikka and blessing to younger people. Note the jamara grass tucked behind the father's ear.

In the “white tikka” section of the article it discusses how different ethnic communities sometimes choose to use different colored tikkas to differentiate themselves and their practices, since historically red vermillion was not readily available outside of the KTM valley, and tikkas were created with butter (potentially influenced by Tibet), or curd and rice. Also the article gives the example of the Limbu people, whose participation in Dashain can only be traced back to Rana Bahadur Shah’s reign. This reminded me of a story that M-dai told me a while back.

M-dai is from the Sunwar ethnic group traditionally from the mountains in the Solokhumbu region of Nepal. Many of the mountain people were not traditionally (and many still are not) Hindu, but Buddhist or animist/shamanistic. When Nepal became unified under a king, and the country was declared a Hindu kingdom, advisors of the king were sent to the more remote areas of Nepal to enforce Hinduization. M-dai said his grandfather’s grandfathers used to have to show that they sacrificed a goat for Dashain to prove their participation in the Hindu festival and their adherence to the king. For some families celebration of this festival may have stuck, but not for all.

Which leads me into the final article: “Commentary: On Not Celebrating Dashain.” Even though to me Dashain feels more cultural than spiritual, it is important to remember that the festival– much like Christmas (regardless of how secular and commercial it might seem to some) in the US– is not celebrated by everyone. This article is from the perspective of a Nepali who is not Hindu, and thus doesn’t celebrate.

I hope you don’t mind all the posts on Dashain… it’s just on my brain as of late. Thought others might find these interesting….

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One response to “Dashain Articles

  1. Interesting post and thought provoking article that you linked by Thapa. Most of the Nepalis I have ever met are Hindu, with the exception of my former housekeeper, Asali and her husband and some friends of hers. She expressed very often that her identity was very distinct as a Buddhist, and that in her Lama community, immitating Hindus by nose piercing and so on was looked down upon and associated with Hindu-ish Buddhist caste groups like Tamangs (according to her, that is, I really don’t know much about it beyond a superficial level). She also felt that Nepal was originally a Buddhist place and that Buddhists are the original people (although clearly animism is very indigenous and exists in her own community). She views the momo as Buddhist cuisine, for example. She has many Hindu friends and isn’t political per say, or anti-Hindu, but she spoke of disenfranchisement of indigenous Buddhist people by Hindus, and Hindu domination of wealth and resources. She says that in Kathmandu people would recognise her “Buddhist girl accent” because her Nepali was weak due to her ethnic background. I don’t know how common this rhetoric is among Buddhist groups, or how much influence there is in her home region from Maovadis (I read that they are anti-Hindu ‘establishment’ and like to promote enfranchisement of local ethnic groups and promote local languages). But it is interesting to see how Thapa’s article fit in with the picture she had painted for me. (I would have assumed Thapa was a Hindu by name as well, interesting that his family didn’t Christianize their names as is done in some other communities).

    Happy Dashain, anyway.

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