Coming back from Palpa made this week in Kathmandu rougher than usual. Spending time in the beautiful greenery of the Middle Hills was a huge contrast to returning back to the business of the capital city. School seemed to drag on this week, to make things more stressful, we had a lot of assignments due – even while completely across the world, schoolwork is still schoolwork.
On Thursday began Dashain, one of Nepal’s biggest festivals. Originating from Hindu tradition, the main feature of the festival is doing puja (worship at the temple) and receiving tikka (a blessing that comes in the form of a red paste mixed with rice placed on the forehead). The festival begins with a seed being planted in the ground and continues on for the next ten days which are celebrated with eating and drinking amongst family members. On the 9th day, families make sacrifices to the god the festival is in honor of by slaughtering goats and buffaloes. In Kathmandu’s Durbar Square 108 animals are all sacrificed at once in a huge celebration for the city. The festival culminates on the 10th day with a gathering of the extended family filled with a huge feast, drinking, and a special tikka ceremony. The older members of the family give tikkas & money to the younger members as a blessing for the coming year. Unfortunately my host family had a death in the extended family this year, so they aren’t able to participate in the tikka ceremonies or puja worships, so on the last day I’ll be going to one of my friends’ host family’s to celebrate.
As a weekend escape out of Kathmandu, one of the other girls on the program suggested we stay two nights at a small guesthouse in the nearby village of Nagarkot. About an hour and a half drive from Kathmandu, there are said to be beautiful views of the Himalayas. We arrived late Friday evening and found we basically had the entire guest house to ourselves. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy both days we were here so we didn’t get a view of the Himalayas, but the weekend was still great. The hotel was great, very cute & staffed with wonderfully nice and friendly people. Saturday night we spent our time in the reception / restaurant area playing music, singing & dancing with the hotel staff.
This weekend was a great get a way from Kathmandu which left me feeling relaxed, refreshed & ready for Dashain this week!