The significance of Dashain within The Brigade of Gurkhas

The significance of Dashain within The Brigade of Gurkhas

Dashain is the most auspicious festival in Nepal and of Hinduism. It takes place in the bright lunar fortnight of September/October every year, ending on the day of the full moon. It lasts for 15 days in Nepal, but the Brigade of Gurkhas only celebrate it for 10 days. Dashain signifies the triumph of good over evil – the victory of the Goddess Durga Devi over the wicked demons.  Dashain is also a time of family reunions, the exchange of gifts and blessings, profuse pujas (worship), ritual bathing and animal sacrifices.  In the Brigade of Gurkhas units, the Gurkha Major, as the most senior Gurkha, and the Religious Teacher offer Tika and blessings to all service personnel on the final day. It is akin to Christmas in importance and effect.

The first day of Dashain begins with “Ghatasthapana”, where a sacred vessel called kalash is filled with holy water and barley seeds and kept away from sunlight up to the tenth day. The seeds will have grown to form yellow shoots known as jamara. The following days involves various rituals and celebration.  The seventh day of Dashain is Fulpati, an important day, involves the gathering of nine types of sacred plants and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Day eight is the Maha Asthami; on this day, devotees visit temples to offer sacrifices and honor goddess Durga, seeking her divine blessing. The night of the day is called KalaRatri. Day nine Maha Navami is the last day of Navaratri and when ceremonies and rituals reach their peak. This day is also known as the demon hunting day. Dashain culminates on the tenth day which is known as Vijaya Dashami or Tika. It is the most important day, when tika (a mixture of rice, yogurt, colour) and jamara is received by younger family members and elders bless them for their future.

Dashain is also marked by the flying of kites, playing traditional swing, buying new clothes etc. Dashain is not just a religious festival; it’s a cultural extravaganza that unites Nepalese/Gurkhas of all backgrounds, reconnect with their roots, strengthen family bonds, promoting love, togetherness, and the victory of good over evil. In essence, Dashain serves as a reminder of the eternal battle between right and wrong and ultimate victory of light over darkness.

Major Ramkumar Rai – Officer Commanding Gurkha Company (Sittang)

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