“I saw a woman” he whispered. “As clear as the Himalayan skies, I saw her.”
His face flickers softly in the light of our single candle – the power is out, as it is quite often in Nepal, and we are in the midst of Dashain, the most holy of festivals here.
We are all tikka clad, with baby rice leaves behind our ear. We have been blessed by the Gods and are enjoying a meal sacrificed at the celebrations earlier today.
“She was a monster. A Goddess! With five arms raised high on both sides of her body, all holding ferocious weapons, and one…one, was carrying a head.” His voice is getting more and more intense, but not louder. “She rides a tiger, she rides him proudly through town showing the villagers her victory. She has won. She has defeated a ferocious demon and she is proud.”
We are celebrating the good winning over evil. The Goddess is Durga. The festival – Dashain. Where families travel across the country to be with each other, to celebrate, to feast, and to do it in loved ones company. It is the one of the biggest celebrations in Nepal and can be compared to Christmas in Christian dominated countries. Here, the moon is in charge and a certain amount of days before it is full in November, a goat is sacrificed for the big meal. You give each other tikka, a special tikka for Dashain made out of not only the traditional red colour, but also rice, yoghurt, sugar, and sometimes (a house hold trick I was told) banana, which makes it nice and thick and stay longer. The eldest will bless you, putting the tikka on your third eye for protection, you will be carrying this red dot and you get baby rice leaves behind your left ear, fresh crisp money, and then – you feast!
Around town swings have emerged. Here and there they are hung from the huge old Banyan trees, or made out of four posts of the highest, strongest, bamboo. It is also a part of Dashain. How this tradition emerged, I am not so sure…but it is fun. Kids and adults alike line up and swing as high as they can. Giving each other pushes and laughing.
Schools have been out for weeks, as have daycare centers. And this is where we work. We have therefor made a special program where we have a festival camp at the street children’s rehabilitation center, and we are doing construction work at the school in Pame. Our volunteers have been champs and we are proud of them, contributing and adapting to the Nepali way of life – where you never quite know what is around the corner…but you do know, it will most probably be fun!
Lots of Love, and Happy Dashain!
/ Julia & the GVI Team Nepal