Dasain 1: The Triumph of Good Requires Bloodshed

Oct 7, 2011 | Nepal


A Brahmin priest and a government office representative perform rites after water buffalo and goats were sacrificed for Dasain.

The goddess Kali Durga, consort to Shiva, wears a garland of severed heads, wields an array of weapons, and stands with Shiva beneath her feet. Kali is a visage of wrath, but also a universal mother and powerful protectress. She symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, so worshiping her helps ensure that your own goals will prevail against obstacles and bad luck.

The Goddess Kali

What does such a woman want for the holidays? Blood, of course.

Dasain is a Hindu festival celebrating Kali Durga’s slaying of an evil demon who was terrorizing the gods. It is marked by the ritual slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals.


A young water buffalo is sacrificed.

Nepal’s largest and most important nationwide holiday, Dasain is when Hindus travel home, whether across town or across the country, to receive blessing from their parents. About 75,000 people PER DAY have been leaving Kathmandu this week. Streets are empty of traffic, shops are shuttered, and everyone is busy with the business of worship.