Dashain has bidden us good bye, bringing us a step closer to Tihar. But the relevance of this festival does not end with its passing. This article will dwell into the joys and the values associated with Dashain.
Festivals are events of celebration and joys for people in general and youngsters in particular. The festive mood for Dashain creeps into the mindset of people right from the day of Ghatasthapana which fell on October 16 this year.
The festival that extends to 14 more days from this day is celebrated with enthusiasm by about every Nepali save for Muslim and Christian communities. The most highly celebrated occasion falls in the autumn, the most suitable time for festivity. During this season people feel relaxed at heart and mind for several reasons. The neat, clear and blue firmament makes a joyful impact in the mind of the people. People in general and farmers in particular feel great joy because of the harvesting moments. The lush green and golden rice plants cast all excellent scenarios. The fruit trees bow down to the mother earth presenting the gifts they bear. The gardens keep smiling attracting the eyes of the onlookers. What could be more gracious moments like these for the great festivals like Dashain and Tihar!
Though Dashain is specific to Nepalis, it has something to communicate to even those who do not celebrate it. It is because, it is the festival to appreciate the feminine power ad virtues genuinely recognized by the Hindus. The root of profound sense of women empowerment that is taking a hit in the Western hemisphere can well be traced in the female deities like Durga, Bhagavati, Bhawani and Jagadamba among others who are revered and worshipped with devotion during Dashain.
Symbolically Durga represents a deep gorge residing between two cliffs. Similarly, Bhagawati bears the connotation of the figure possessing the female reproductive organ. The word Bhaga represents reproductive female organ, while wati means possessing it. Bhawani represents the continuum of life on earth. Bhawa neatly stands for the world, while ani symbolizes continuity. Continuity in physical survival indicates giving life to the siblings for regenerating life forms in the future. As regards Jagadamba, it bears more or less the same energy of life and continuity. Jagat stands for the earth—the planet we live in. And amba stands for mother. Put together, Jagat and amba means earth as mother. All this shows that Dashain is marked in recognition of feminine power, giving celebrity status to these deities.
Now coming back to Durga, she is the powerful symbol of women empowerment. It is only the strongly empowered women who can withstand hardships and challenges. Holding a sword by the right hand and the shield by the left, she signifies women’s power. However, Durga icon has been depicted with one single head bearing eighteen arms—nine on the right and nine on the left. It may look unnatural but it is possible in the domain of art and symbol.
The craftsmen and artists have smoothly exhibited craftsmanship to represent one
in nine or nine in one. Nine on the left and nine on the right combined together, they represent nine women figures. A single one head, when depicted in an icon set with eighteen, signifies nine in one or one head to represent nine in union. Thus what seems incongruous in the icon also has meanings
Laxmipuja, another occasion to celebrate feminine deity of wealth, Laxmi, is at hands. With knowledge of what these deities symbolize, our reverence for them becomes more meaningful