Last week was super exciting with all the Dashain festivities. I got to experience the festival first hand at my friends house. Friday was the big day, where every younger person in the family receives a blessing in the form of a tikaa from the older members of the family. I wore a traditional saree as you are supposed to wear something new on the day and got tikaa from my friend’s parents. Afterwards I wandered the neighborhoods and spoke to some Nepalis who were not busy celebrating the festival with their families. Along the way I ran into a few young boys who explained that, because of tradition, they were not celebrating the festival because they had just had someone born within their family and were waiting for them to get their “secret name” – something that is given in Nepali culture. It’s so interesting that every day I found out new and exciting things about Nepal; even if I lived here for many years I don’t think I could ever no everything there is to know about the culture.
Tuesday we had a language excursion to a small village for a short field project. Khokana, just outside of Kathmandu, is a Newari village and the only one in the valley who does not celebrate Dashain. Instead, they celebrate their own festival, which is similar to Dashain, but called Sikali Jatra. This village is known for its mustard oil which they have been producing since ancient times. It was interesting to learn a bit about the culture of this small community in general; it was a very unique village. Most residents who lived there spoke four languages, as I’ve learned since coming to Nepal many locals do speak multiple languages – it’s incredible! (today I found out my language teacher can speak a little bit of SEVEN languages). Also, because of reiligious reasons, pigs and chickens are not allowed in this village. This was interesting and peculiar because they practiced Hinduism, and many other areas of Kathmandu are also Hindu yet allow pigs and hens into their living areas.
Now that the week is over, it’s time to start thinking about what’s ahead – our excursion to Annapurna! I’m super excited for one of the most interesting parts of the semester. Sunday we will drive to Pokhara, stay the night, then fly to Jomsom on Monday, then trekk into the village of Tukeche where we will be for about a week. I’ll be completing a field project as well as living with a local family. Afterwards we’re trekking back to Pokhara. Coming back to Kathmandu we’ll have one week of final exams and then it’s time for the research phase of the semester!
Because I’ll be in the Himalayas for the next two weeks, it may be hard to update my blog on time, although I will try my best!