Nepal: Maha Ashtami – October 3, 2022, history, significance
Maha Ashtami is celebrated on the eighth day of the 15-day-long Dashain festival in Nepal, and this year it takes place on October 3. The Hindu community of the country observes the day by honoring Goddess Durga Bhawani.
Dashain, one of the most auspicious festivals in the country, usually falls somewhere between September and October and is dated as per the Hindu calendar. Throughout the festival, several manifestations of Goddess Durga are celebrated,
with Maha Ashtami being the day on which her true claim to power is achieved. Friends and family get together to celebrate the festival, and the day is marked with excitement and devotion across the Hindu community of Nepal.
HISTORY OF NEPAL: MAHA ASHTAMI
Maha Ashtami is a part of Dashain, the longest and most anticipated festival for the Hindus of Nepal. It is believed that on Maha Ashtami, Goddess Durga proclaimed her true power and completed her transformation. Hindu devotees mark the day by offering prayers to the Goddesses Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, and Mahasaraswati, which symbolize strength, prosperity, and knowledge, respectively.
The shrines of goddesses in Kathmandu Valley are decorated and devotees start pouring in the early morning to offer items of worship and sacrifice. The festival is notable across the community due to its animal sacrifice. Most of the devotees offer ducks and goats to the goddess.
Those who refrain from animal sacrifice present other food items such as fruits and vegetables. Other rituals of the day include a collective reading of ‘Durga Saptashati,’ the scripture of Goddess Durga, and the worship of weapons, machinery, vehicles, and all other assets of a household.
One of the most crowded places in the country on the Maha Ashtami is ‘Dashain Ghar’ of Hanumandhoka, a royal outlier in Kathmandu. Devotees from all over the country assemble for a special worship session called ‘Kalaratri’ at midnight.
Millions of Nepali Hindus await the festival, with emphasis on family gatherings and rehabilitation of community ties. People from all around the country and the world return to their hometowns to mark the day, and all shops, private places of work, educational institutions, and government offices are shut during the holiday.
NEPAL: MAHA ASHTAMI TIMELINE
The Origin of Hinduism
Hinduism arrives in the present-day Kathmandu region of Nepal from the Indus Valley.
Nepal’s constitution bans the preaching of Islam or Christianity and penalizes people who perform religious conversions.
The Last Theocracy
Nepal cedes its place as the last Hindu country in the world after the abolition of the monarchy in the country.
Nepal celebrates Maha Ashtami on the eighth day of the 15-day-long Dashain festival as per the Vikram Samvat calendar.
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HOW TO OBSERVE NEPAL: MAHA ASHTAMI
Light a lamp
Homes across Nepal light up with earthen lamps to honor the Goddess on this auspicious day. Just as Maha Ashtami honors Goddess Durga, who extinguished the darkness of the world by harnessing her powers, you too can challenge the darkness in your lives by lighting a literal lamp and working for better days.
Learn about Dashain
Dashain wraps up the spirit of Hinduism and is one of the biggest festivals for Hindus around the world. From nourishment to enlightenment and finally repentance — the observation covers it all. The week-long celebration is a great time for you to catch up on some of the teachings of this religion.
Book a trip to Nepal somewhere between September and October and enjoy the country at its finest. From some of the finest tourist sightings to incredible action sports, and of course, the Highest ceiling of the Himalayas — the country has it all and makes for an incredible destination for tourism.
5 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT MAHA ASHTAMI AND DASHAIN
The slayer of evil
It is believed that Goddess Durga killed many other demons disguised as water buffaloes in her quest to end Mahishasura.
Bringing religions together
Buddhists also celebrate Dashain in Nepal to commemorate Emperor Ashoka’s adoption of Buddhism.
The magic of Jamara
Holy Jamara, the yellow grass used in rituals, is planted on the first day of Dashain and grows within seven days.
A man’s celebration
Women are refrained from entering the room where the main Dashain puja is carried out.
The king’s blessings
Thousands of devotees used to gather in Kathmandu’s royal palace to seek blessings from the king before the dissolution of the monarchy.
WHY NEPAL: MAHA ASHTAMI IS IMPORTANT
It honors the good fight
Goddess Durga ended the reign of terror by waging a war against the demons. The festival symbolizes the importance of picking up the fight and winning the quest against all odds. We celebrate Maha Ashtami to honor the good fight and seek inspiration from the strength of Goddess Durga.
It brings people together
Dashain marks the biggest commotion in the country, with people traveling to their homes to celebrate the festival. Towns and villages are lit up with an unmatched festive spirit, as devotees drape themselves with the holy teachings of Hinduism.
It is a triumph of good over evil
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga was summoned to slay the demon Mahishasura, who had wreaked havoc on the gods’ residence. The nine days leading up to Vijaya Dasami (the 10th day of Dashain) mark the manifestations of the battle between the goddess and the demon, and it is on Maha Ashtami (the eighth day) that she receives her full powers.