Mohani; the newa version of the great Dashain

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Mohani; the newa version of the great Dashain image

Mohani or mohni is an analogous festival to the biggest festival of Nepal, i.e Dashain. The difference between these two terms of festivals is very simple. It’s more like referring to the same event in two separate languages.

Although there are disagreements over Mohani and Dashain being separate events, we currently believe Mohani is a newari indicator of Dashain.

Furthermore, mohani is one of the biggest festivals for Newa people which they celebrate with a blend of joys. It is one such festival that brings happiness and holidays all along. Meanwhile, It also binds all the family members and relatives under one roof. Where they then have feasts, parties, card games, talks, gossip, and a lot of laughter.


PC: The Kathmandu Post

As previously said, not just the Newa people, but the entire nation, celebrate it.

However, Bhaktapur has yet another reason to celebrate Mohani. The appearance of the Nava Durga Deity is the first thing that only Bhaktapurians celebrate throughout Mohani Nakha. Ritually, they are supposed to diminish at Bhagasti and revive at Mohani.

Mohani, on the other hand, denotes the beginning of the festive season. People begin to visit the Nava Durga temples from the first day of Mohani till the date of Tika (Dashami). If they are unable to go there, they just go to their local temple and light diyos (oil lamps).

Batti dines or batti dina jane, as the girls termed it, was the practice of lighting the diyo at temples because young girls were eager to do so. They go for it every evening until Dashami or Tika from Gatasthapana. During such days, especially in the evenings, one may observe a distinct and unique side of Bhaktapur.

Nalaswane ritual

This two-week celebration begins with the Nalaswane rite, which involves the planting of Jamara on the day of ghatasthapana. People put barley seeds, as well as rice and corn seeds, on sand-mixed clay, which grows into the Jamara.

Jamara mohani

PC: Talkplant

Following that, all of the necessary grains are planted above the banana leaves and then covered with a basin. However, nowadays, many put it in a vase rather than a banana leaf.

Besides, it is given fresh water on a daily basis till the day of tika. This unique plant (Jamara) is also worshiped twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Furthermore, this plant is cultivated and worshipped in the Agam kotha, which is a holy chamber where outsiders are usually not permitted.

But why do we celebrate Mohani or Dashain?

While the newar of Bhaktapur is more inspired by tantrism, they believe the legend of goddess Durga diminishes Mahishasura (the demon of the story). Khame Jatra, which depicts this, is still conducted in Bhaktapur today, where a water buffalo (the image of Mahishasura) is killed in front of Bramhayani and Taleju.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence of its origin and that there are several versions of this myth, followers continue to believe and practice it.

To give tribute to the goddess Durga, Bhaktapur held one of the most popular masked dances in Nepal. i.e Navadurga dance.

During the mohani, all the navadurga deities are worshipped. That also consists of a kind of mela in different temples during the Navaratri. And, here is the sequence of those temples.

  • Bramhayeni,
  • Maheshwari,
  • Kumari,
  • Bhadra kali,
  • Barahi,
  • Indrayani,
  • Mahakali,
  • Mahalaxmi, and
  • Tripura Sundari

They are in their sequence respectively. However, the Brahmayeni is again worshipped right after the Tripura Sundari and on the day of Dashami.

Know more about these temples of Nava Durga.

Temples of Nava Durga in Bhaktapur

The Seventh Day of the Dashain

On the seventh day of Dashain, Fulpati, people assemble all weapons and musical instruments in Dashain ghar, where the jamara is cultivated and worshipped. Furthermore, this day legally marks the start of the celebration, since all offices and academic institutions grant holidays beginning on this day.

Kuchhi bhwey

Moreover, newa people hold gatherings and feasts such as kuchhi bhwey. Kuchhi bhwey is a feast in which all family members sit in a row and eat traditional newari foodstuff, samyabaji.

You might be wondering what Kuchi Bhwey means. Right?

The kuchhi here signifies two mana, and mana is a typical newari measuring device. And Bhwey means “feast.” As a result, Kuchi bhwey refers to a feast in which each family member receives two manas of bitten rice along with other delicacies.

It also sounds scary how a person could eat so much or why it is even offered. Well, different households have different stories about it.

Like, one says, in the meantime, people had no money and even couldn’t afford to have bitten rice. Thus, they start a ritual like this where they can have bitten-rice as much as they want.

This feast occurs on the eighth day of the mohani. That particularly is the day of Maha Ashtami which is also called Kalarati. Kalaratri, in a sense, on that night in memory of slaying mahisasur ( the buffalo demon), twenty-five buffaloes are sacrificed in front of the Taleju Temple.`

*The Taleju temple lies in the Mulchwok of Bhaktapur Durbar square and was the main family deity of Malla Kings.

It is also said that, on the same day, the giant Nyatapola temple is opened and is offered a buffalo as well. And, some people believe in not taking a bath on that day following the old folks that say that the person who takes a bath on that day will incarnate as the buffalo. Especially that one which is sacrificed in the temple.

Believe it or not but there are a ton of stories like this in the pocket of Bhaktapurians.

Kites flying in Dashain

Kites flying in Dashain
PC: Treks planner Nepal

This auspicious celebration is accompanied by a kite season. There will also be a musical celebration. People love flying kites, playing cards, and swinging on bamboo swings in the presence of malashree dhun (instrumental music heard solely during Dashain). But have you ever wondered why we only fly kites around Dashain?

If you are wondering what could be the reason then you can simply follow the following article.

Reasons behind flying kites during Dashain.


The very next day of Kalaratri is the day of Mahanavami. The day is more important for doing rituals like worshipping and making animal sacrifices and offerings to their working tools like weighing scales, looms, machinery, and vehicles.

Newa people called it syakwa tyakwa.

Also, the temple, with a tutelary deity Taleju, becomes available for common people on this day. 

On the same date, khame, a buffalo is chased from the Nava Durga temple to the Barmayani temple. People made that buffalo drunk and poured water and alcohol into it during the whole march.

And when it reaches there, it is tied up again and sacrificed the very next day, before the sunrise.

*The newly made masks of Nava Durga are also displayed on the same day at Yachhen.


Respectively, the tenth day of the lunar fortnight, Dashami is the day of blessings. In the Newa tongue, the day is called Chalan where the red and orange tika with mohni ( a black-colored tika) is passed on foreheads as blessings.

With that, they decorate their hair with Jamara, the plants, which were planted on the very first day of the festival. Similarly, people go to relatives’ houses for feasts. Or you can say this process, Nakhatya as newa people do.

Well, on the same day, locals once again travel to the Bramayeni temple. There, some devotees lit a lamp on their shoulders and knees to show their devotion to the incarnation of Goddess Durga.

The Fifteenth and the last day of Mohani

Mohani just does not end with the tika and Nakhatya. As mentioned earlier, it is two weeks of long celebrations. Thus, it lasts for five more days after the day of the tika.

The fifteenth and the last day of the festival is called Kojagrat Purnima. It is a full moon day and there is this belief that the Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth) blesses those who will be awake the whole night.

Hence, Kojagrat also means the same, who is awake.

To this day, people continue to go here and there to have tika, along with feasts.

Nevertheless, this is the most adored and joyous festival. Wherever you live, if it’s Dashain, you can’t help yourself from being apart from your family. And, not only in Bhaktapur but probably also in the whole of Nepal, each one of us surely mentions our childhood memories during Dashain.

And, that’s Dashain or the Mohani for all of us.


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