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Originally published October 5, 2012 at 10:00 AM | Page modified October 5, 2012 at 3:54 PM

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Nepal: Rites amid the lights honor a triumphant goddess

Dashain rolls around each fall, beginning Oct. 16 this year. At its heart is the triumph of the Hindu goddess Durga over a fearsome demon, symbolizing the victory of good over evil.

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IN THE CHAOTIC city of Katmandu, where clots of adventurous tourists and Himalayan mountaineers party in cafes and restaurants during the autumn high season, some locals stage a very different celebration.

On the outskirts of the city in Bhaktapur, a Hindu devotee lies covered in oil lamps during Dashain, the biggest religious festival of Nepal, a multireligion nation of mostly Hindus and Buddhists, but also Christians and Muslims, Sikhs and Jains, animists and ancestor worshippers.

Dashain rolls around each fall, beginning Oct. 16 this year. At its heart is the triumph of the Hindu goddess Durga over a fearsome demon, symbolizing the victory of good over evil.

In Nepal, Katmandu's city-slickers and Nepalese working abroad travel back to their home villages for the days-long celebration of Dashain (also called Durga Puja), jamming the roads. They join in everything from sacred rites and singing to family feasts and a traditional animal slaughter.

In quieter ceremonies, candles and oil lamps are lit, the fire symbolizing the everlasting power of the Hindu goddess. And a man lies peacefully beneath the flames, at bliss among his fellow worshippers.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.

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