The biggest annual festival in the country, this party lasts for fifteen days, celebrating the victory of the goddess Durga over the evil forces of Mahisasura. Animal sacrifices are held all over the country while primitive swings and hand-powered Ferris wheels are erected at the entrance of many villages. Be aware that this festival completely shuts the country down, especially on the 9th and 10th days. Banks and government offices close from the 8th day to the 12th. The festival has many events including:
• Fulpati (Phulpati): ‘Sacred Flowers’ is the first day of Dasain. A jar of flowers is carried from Gorkha to Kathmandu and are presented to the president at the Tundikhel parade ground. They are then transported to the Hanaman Dhoka (old Royal Palace).
• Maha Astami: This is the ‘Great Eighth Day’ when animal sacrifices are made to Durga. At midnight, at a temple courtyard near Durbar Square, eight buffaloes and 108 goats are beheaded.
• Vijaya Dashmai: The 10th day of Dasain is all about families with cards and greetings being exchanged, parents placing a ‘tika’ on their children’s foreheads. A procession and masked dances occur through the Kathmandu Valley.
• Kartika Purnima: a full moon day in September and October marks the end of Dasain, with gambling and games heralding the end of the festival.