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Nepalese celebrate Dashain with special event

About 300 Nepalese in the Bay of Plenty will be celebrating the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar. Photo: Pawan Poudel

This evening the Nepalese Association in the Bay of Plenty will be celebrating Dashain in Paengaroa.

The Hindu celebration will include musical performances, delicious food and speeches.

“We will have about 200 to 300 Nepalese here at the Paengaroa Community Hall tonight,” says Nepalese Association in the Bay of Plenty chair Pawan Poudel. “We celebrate this every year, but this year we are doing it differently.”

The Bay of Plenty Nepalese community have been busy building sets for the stage, rehearsing dances and performances, and preparing sumptuous food.

For Nepalese, Dashain is the most anticipated festival among all the festivals of Nepal and takes place during the month of Kartik which is late September through to October.

It is the grandest, longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Throughout the kingdom of Nepal the goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the ritual holy bathing, thus drenching the goddess for days in blood.

Dashain also symbolizes the victory of good over evil. For followers of Shaktism, it represents the victory of the goddess Durga. In Hindu mythology, the demon Mahishasura had created terror in the devaloka - the world where gods live, but Durga killed the rakshas or demon.

According to the Tibet Travel, Dasain symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

“Once upon a time, the Goddess Durga with ten different manifestations dressed in a red robe, rode a tiger and armed herself with magic weapons to combat with the demon Mahishasura. After fighting for nine days and nights, Goddess Durgar finally killed the devil and saved the whole country. To commemorate the courageous Durgar, the king of Nepal respected her as “the sacred protector”. Since then, offering the sacrifices to the Goddess has become one of the most popular festive rituals.”

In preparation for Dashain every home is cleansed and beautifully decorated, and during this time the reunion of distant and nearby relatives occurs in every household. In Nepal markets are usually filled with shoppers seeking new clothing, gifts, luxuries and enormous supplies of temple offering for the gods, as well as foodstuffs for the family feasting.

Mutton is the official Dashain food in Nepal, especially among the Brahmins and Kshatriyas, and mutton curry is often one of the foods prepared for the celebration.

As well as a delicious feast, the evening tonight will begin with a formal programme, with John Scrimgeour the Deputy Mayor of Western Bay District Council expected to speak.

“This year we are doing it differently,” says Pawan. “We are making the stage look like a typical Nepalese house and decorating it. We are trying to celebrate this Dashain in a special and very enjoyable way.

“After the speeches, there will be a cultural programme with more than 25 performers, and then dinner for all the participants.”

The evening’s hosts are Bipindra Koirala and Rosey Khatri and performers include Asmita Kshatree, Saugat Neupane and Maya Gurung. A group of dancers, made up of Simran Bhandari, Aishwarya Bhandari, Christina aryal, Tanbi Upreti, Diva Upreti, Devaani Adhikari and Sampada Bhattrai have been rehearsing some traditional Nepalese dances to perform.

The event is supported by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Creative Communities NZ, and sponsored by Midas Tauranga.

The Dashain Festival will be held in the Paengaroa Community Hall at 4 Old Coach Rd, Paengaroa starting at 5pm. All are welcome.

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