This past week has been the Dasain Festival - many people leave Kathmandu to return to their villages - you can tell as many places are closed and it is very difficult to get a taxi. Dasain is suppose to last 15 days however it has been decreased to 10 days - however schools are closed from anywhere from 15 to 30 days. This festival is really a family affair - people visit relatives and have relatives over just about everyday. The festival celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga over the forces of evil personified in the buffalo demon. Durga is bloodthirsty - so the festival is marked by killing goats, water buffalo and sheep - this the biggest animal sacrifice of the year.
I have been really lucky as I was invited to a number of homes during this time - as well I did go back to the orphanage to share a meal with the children. It was wonderful to see them again and they were all excited to see me. I will see them one more time before I go. They have another volunteer and will be getting another two in the next few days - this is really good as they are out of school for the month.
The trip out to the orphanage was a wild one for sure - Deepak one of the people involved with the orphanage invited to come with him as he was cooking the meal. So off we go - Deepak is a wild motorcycle driver - anyway half way to the orphanage it began to rain - even downpour would not begin to describe the amount of water that came from the sky - I was soak within seconds and the streets became flooded - I thought oh we are going to tip over - as the rain kept coming down faster Deepak thought it best that I go in a Tuk-Tuk - this is a very small 3 wheel bus - so I get in - and my biggest fear came to be - soap was running down my leg and I had bubbles in my hair - I don't think anyone noticed as the Tuk-Tuk kept going sideways due to the little flood on the road people started getting out quickly - everyone accept me of course !!! All at once the Tuk-Tuk stops and says get out - I guess it was the end of his route. I am looking outside and can't see Deepak anywhere - I thought this is great - however Deepak appeared - the rain had slowed down so I hopped onto the bike and off we went. After that ride I said to Deepak - I will take a taxi back thank you. Anyway he called one of his friends to come and pick me up in a car - thank goodness !!!
The next day I went to Deepak's house for lunch and to meet his family. I am always shocked at how people live here - very basic - not much of anything - maybe I am use to having so much stuff around me. Deepak's sister has just come back from Paris with a friend - so it was very nice to speak to them. Deepak's wife was not well at all so I only spoke to her for a few mins - I met his daughter, his mother and other relatives. It was all wonderful until lunch was served - that would goat again - this time I said I don't eat meat, They were very nice about it.
The day after was the big event of the festival - tika - so the oldest relative gives tika to all the younger ones - then the next oldest does the same thing and it goes on and on until everyone has given and received tika from everyone, They also give money to the person giving the tika. Padma invites me to celebrate this event with his family (this is the family that gave me goat the first time) so off I go. He brings me to a relative's house - most of his siblings live in two houses side by side - lots of relatives - all very nice. So they start the giving of the tika - I did not realize you needed to give money - it also has to be new money - I am not sure what to do - I was in luck as if you are a guest they give you money instead of you giving them money. That was a little odd - so tika, tika, tika - I ended up with 250 R which is like 3 dollars. It was all fun until we had to eat - mutton would be on the menu - and how do you say "no thank you" - so I had mutton - or I tried to pretend I was eating it - then one of the relatives asked - you don't like my mutton - Oh no I said it taste so good I really want to get all taste. Anyway I ate my mutton and smiled.
One of the things that the children do during this time is fly kites and build a swing - it has to be the most interesting looking swing and hard to explain so I did take a picture of it.
The following day I was invited to Prakash's house - he has a wife and a little boy. He lives in a small house - actually it is really nice and is in a quite area - so it was very nice afternoon - of course until we had lunch. This was interesting again - they do have a helper - a girl from Prakash's village who wanted to go to school so she is living with them and attending school - she helps out around the house. As Prakash's wife was having her period she could not go anywhere near the kitchen - she is very Hindu - anyway lunch is chicken - I do it eat it - it taste good as long as I don't think of the chickens I have seen in the Market - I am good. It was a very good meal.
Prakash and his wife are a "love marriage" - she is Hindu and he is a Buddhist. It took a long time before they could get married as the families needed to agree to the arrangement - they did after about 3/4 years. We talked about arranged marriages - Prakash said most of his friends who have had arranged marriages are the happiest. The other thing he spoke about was how children ended up as monks and nuns - in most of Nepal - rural area families will send the middle child to become a nun or a monk - if the middle is shared both children go. Again the middle child - how much can a middle child take !!!! Prakash told me a story about his village and a family who had 2 sons - both sons were in their twenties - and set in their careers - then mother became pregnant and the youngest became the middle child and was told he had to become a monk, After much family "upset" he did become a monk as his mom and dad were both elderly and in poor health. His thought was that he could always become a monk and leave at anytime. I guess this is pretty easy to do.
I had a great time and then it came time to leave - Prakash takes his 20 month old son and puts him at the front of the motorcycle - and says lets go - I took a picture of that as well - I said oh in Canada we can't do that - he was surprised - everyone does it here. So often we went - I kept thinking I don't like this much !!!
So that was my social activities during Dasain - I have been really lucky to meet such wonderful people who really what to include me in their families. It has been a lot of fun and very interesting !