Monday, October 03, 2011

Dashain holiday begins in Sikkim

Today is the beginning of the longest and biggest festival of the Nepalese calendar: Dashain. At its heart, Dashain is all about celebrating happiness and good luck. The main days of celebration this year are the 3rd-7th October when families get together, pray and offer thanks, or “puja”, to the gods. Fulpati, the seventh day of the Dashain festival, is being celebrated across the Sikkim on Monday.

With the Fulpati the Dashain holiday begins closing all the government offices, educational institutions and other service centers for the next seven days. As part of the religious and cultural celebrations of Fulpati, people collect different flowers and shrubs including stalks of banana, turmeric, leaves of pomegranate, Bel, Ashok and Jayanti, and rice plant and sugarcane and introduce to the Dashain Ghar, where Goddess Durga’s statuette or image had been set up on the first day of the festival and Jamara was planted, in their households .
The festival each year falls into late September or early October and lasts for 15 days. It commemorates the victory of gods over demons. It’s a great time to immerse yourself in Sikkim’s rich religious culture. Dashain is celebrated throughout all casts and parts of society . The festival ends on full-moon day. During the festival, the goddess Durga is worshipped with offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices – the festival therefore is not for weak stomachs.

Just before Dashain all homes are cleaned and decorated to invite goddess Durga to visit and bless the house. People go to the markets to buy new clothing, gifts and offerings for the gods, and families reunite to celebrate. During the festival all work in the country nearly comes to a halt, as everyone is celebrating. The first nine days of the festival symbolize a ferocious battle between the goddess Durga and a demon, which is slain on the tenth day. The last five days symbolize the celebration of the victorious goddess. On the first days, rituals to worship Durga are carried out. The seventh day is Fulpati with its parade. The eighth day holds the “dark night”, in which animals are sacrificed in Durga’s temples. The sacrifices continue until dawn, and in the homes big feasts with meat meals are held. More sacrifices follow on the ninth day, along with  parades and asking for blessings for vehicles. On the tenth to fourteenth day everyone visits their elders to receive their blessing – these are days to visit relatives, a chance to reunite for families that live spread out across the country. On the last day, people stay at home and rest.
However, The celebrations has become a low-key affairs in light of recent Earthquake.Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling has already announced that Dashain and Diwali festivals will not be celebrated by him as a mark of respect to people who have lost their lives in 18.9.11 Earthquake.

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