Friday, October 18, 2013

Dashain Festival: yet another fun experience about Nepal!

Dashain is a very important Hindu festival in Nepal. It lasts for 10 days, and each day has its own meaning and rituals. It is as important as Christmas for us Westerners. So important that many Nepali living in Kathmandu for work make their way back home, in their native village, to be with their family. Normal. But then you do realize that 99,9% of Kathmandu inhabitants are not originally from the capital, because suddenly, the city is empty, like in a western movie. We assist to the (rare) phenomenon of urban exodus, with huge traffic jams to leave Kathmandu. Nepal has no railway facilities, and planes are quite expensive, therefore you see thousands (millions ?) of people sitting in buses, in cars, on scooters, leaving for holidays. I’ve heard that on some days just before the festival, it could take up to ten hours to leave the Kathmandu valley ! Imagine the huge mess ! I mean, a bit more than usual.

Two funny facts about Dashain : people are flying cute little paper kites everywhere. When I asked some colleagues the reason, they said « hummm… because it’s fun. Also, it’s nice weather and its fun ». A bit disappointing answer when you know that Nepal counts so many stories and extravagant explanations for pretty much everything.
During Dashain, Nepalese are also having fun on a swing, and here comes a nice story explaining that fact (aaah !). October corresponds to the end of the harvest season, and Mother Earth is tired because she gave a lot of rice, vegetables, cereals and all the rest. Nepali people are very sensitive and they care about that kind of things. Therefore they build up big bamboo swings, you wonder a bit how it does to stay up in the air. They all get on it one by one (sometimes several at the same time) in order to relieve Mother Earth from their weight, so she can rest a tiny bit. Isn’t it lovely?


Dashain is also about animal sacrifices for Hindus, and about prayers for the poor souls of these animals for Buddhists. Some are kiling, others are compensating the bad karma created by praying. Everyone is interconnected.

But Dashain is also a family meeting. By family, I mean at least 150 persons. We have been invited by our landlord on tika day to get the blessings from his 89 years-old mum. Well, what a day for this smiling and lovely woman: she woke up at 4 am and gave tika the whole day long, until 10 pm or so, to about 150 – 200 people. After you get the tika, you’re offered some typical Nepali dishes, which mean that the wife of the landlord woke up at 6 am to prepare the food for the visiting crowd. When we got there, the landlord was not here, he was receiving tika from his wife’s family. Luckily, his sisters were at home, ensuring the « non stop presence »: they couldn’t leave the house, in case some people would come to get the blessings.


Industrial organization, quite impressive when you know that Nepali people are usually quite allergic to schedule. But tika day is special you see. So is Dashain. And it seems like Nepalese get impressively organized and conscious of the time when it comes to getting blessings, food and alcohol for 10 days.
Oh yes, I forgot that point : alcohol. Each time I get to my landlord, I have problems to get down the stairs on my way back home. Because you can’t really refuse a glass, even if you’re proposed one each 5 minutes. Rice beer, rakshi (super strong one), brandy… Once again, my head will pain tomorrow. But I consider it as training for the upcoming Christmas. Because in the end, isn’t our Christmas a bit the same ? Eating ways too much, drinking ways too much, and spending loads of time with our families. We all need that ☺

Happy Dashain to everyone !!!


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