From water fights on Holi to door to door music performances on Tihar, one thing that Nepal does not suffer a shortage of is festivals. The rich culture of the diverse ethnic groups can be observed during these festivals, during which all kinds of activities are engaged in. This semester I was lucky enough to be able to accompany some friends to their Deusi re performance during Tihar, which involves boys/ young men performing traditional and/or modern songs at different houses in exchange for gifts of money, food, sweets and blessings. As for the girls, dressed in colourful dresses and adornments, they perform Bhailo. Boys and girls alike practise for months in preparation for their performances, with some spending the majority of their month long holiday (for Dashain, yet another festival) in practice.
Traditional swings made out of bamboo referred to as ping also sprang up around the city during the Dashain festival. Needless to say, I enjoyed a swing or two, much to the excitement of the neighbourhood children. I was also fortunate enough to enjoy a Dashain lunch at one of my teacher’s houses, where we got the chance to experience the hospitality of a Brahmin family and enjoy delicious food.
As the New Year approaches, a five day festival is held on the streets of Pokhara, during which people from all over the world go to enjoy the various performances and displays, as well as get away from the cold in Kathmandu. Because of the existence of different calendar systems in Nepal, more than one New Year is celebrated in the country, and the New Year of the Gregorian calendar is just one of many that are celebrated. This is good news of course to those of us who are unable to adhere to our New Year resolutions, we get the chance to start over again and again.
Holi and Shivaratri are coming up, and I cannot wait to partake in them.
~Wesley from Kenia