In Nepal, one of the largest festivals of the year is Dashain. It lasts for a total of 15 days, with the main day being this past Friday, October 19th. It is celebrated by Nepalese Hindus which is a large majority of Nepali people. Stores are closed down and streets that are normally booming with people are left looking deserted. During this festival the majority of our time was spent with the girls from Raksha.
The ninth day is the peak of celebrations because it was after nine days of battle that the goddess Parvati defeated the demon bent on destroying the home of the gods. Part of Dashain tradition is making a bamboo swing. The girls absolutely love playing on the swing, which symbolizes a lightness of spirit and a freeness from burdens that came with defeating the demon.
Friday- the ninth day was of Dashain, was comparable to Christmas in America. Family gathers together, no matter how far they have to travel. Parents and grandparents bless each member individually-giving them tika and money. We had the opportunity at the shelter to be blessed in the morning by two gurus- reincarnated gods. There is only ever one reincarnated of each god at a time, so to have two there at once was extremely special. The reincarnated Shiva and Kalima came to the shelter for blessing the girls and worshipping.
In the afternoon we hopped on a bus and visited a sister orphanage. While there we were blessed by another guru- the reincarnated goddess Sarama. Here is our group after being blessed! The entire trip was just what the girls needed to keep the holiday spirit as they are separated from their own family and traditions at the current time.
This week proved to be a great glimpse into the culture of the Nepalese people and what they hold dear. It brought to light just how much their religion is still prominent in their everyday lives. While they make holidays enjoyable, the focus is still always clearly based on religious practices. The Nepali culture is rich in traditions and practices, evident no matter the background of the person.