Dashain – Tihar, The festivals of joy, togetherness, blessings and food
Family, food and prayers, all of these sum up the festive celebrations of Nepal. No festival is complete with the absence of any. From the birth of a child to a wedding, everything is a matter of celebration in the country that finds happiness in the smallest of things.
A Festival like no other
A lot of festivals are celebrated in Nepal throughout the year with equal joy and happiness, but the two festivals that stand out are Dashain and Tihar. Dashain being the major festival where the whole country celebrates it wholeheartedly. Without any argument, it is the most anticipated festival of the country. It is that time of the year when no matter where you are, you come back to your family to celebrate it together. Those unable to meet their loved ones celebrate it with the Nepali diaspora calling them their family. It is celebrated at a stretch of 15 days; and from educational institutions to all the government offices, everything comes at a halt at that time.
Every day that is celebrated has its own significance. The first day is celebrated as Ghatasthapana, in order to welcome the further 15 days’ celebration. The main day is the 10th day, also called Vijaya Dashami, the day used to celebrate the victory (Vijaya) of Goddess Durga over the demons. While on this day elders put tika on foreheads of the younger ones and present them with jamara as blessing, Tihar is another most celebrated festival of Nepal. This 5 days long festival is celebrated after almost 22 days of Dashain. During the initial four days, different animals like dogs, crows, cows are worshipped on the day of Laxmi puja and then the Ox. The main day is the 5th day is ‘Bhaitika’, when the bond between siblings is cherished. Sisters apply a tika with seven colours on their brothers’ forehead; each colour holding its own significance. Surrounded with delicious feasts and other ornaments like blade, comb and oil; sisters wish for brothers’ prosperity, safety and well-being. From the end of Dashain to Tihar, streets and corners of Nepal get into a musical mood with deusi and bhailo to welcome the Goddess Laxmi with enthusiasm.
NO Festival WITHOUT Food
Be it Dashain, Tihar or any other festival of Nepal, the grand feasts are the highlight of each one. Sel roti, feeni roti, arsa roti, anarasa, meat, aaluachaar and what not; the list might never come to an end. The platter served during this festival is full of delight and happy calories. You don’t need to worry about the food being over spicy or over sweet, the whole plate is a balance of sweet and savoury. The food in Nepali kitchen is as simple and alluring as the people of Nepal themselves and there is no better way to understand the country of Nepal and its people than through their cuisine. Although there is not one definite style of cooking in Nepal, but the food habits definitely vary from region to region.
The common Nepali food is Daal-Bhaat-Tarkari, which is steamed rice, soupy lentils and one vegetable dish on the side, but to experience more traditional cuisine, one can try Newari or Thakali cuisine, which are available at a large number of eateries across the country. Also, modern Nepali food is majorly influenced by Indian and Tibetan cuisine and you can find the hint of them in almost all dishes available at cafes and restaurants in cities. In conclusion, it will not be wrong to say that Nepali people cook from their heart and put a lot of hard work, emotions and love in it. So anytime you visit Nepal, make sure to at least be familiar to one Nepalese family and enjoy the food and hospitality that they present. Your heart and stomach, both will definitely be filled with it.