The Nepali holiday of Dashain [pron: duh-sign] commemorates the victory in Hindu mythology of the Goddess Durga over the the buffalo demon Mahisasura. Fittingly, one of the ceremonies that takes place over this 15-day celebration is the sacrificial slaughter of buffalo – as well as many other animals, principally goats, ducks and chickens. It seems it is the one time of year when Nepalis consume large amounts of meat. I had my share during my weekend at the Basnet's, where I was invited to observe and enjoy my first Nepali Dashain. As some of you may recall, I did a homestay on my first visit to Kathmandu 10 years ago and since then have kept in regular contact with my Nepali family, who seem always happy to have me for dinner and offer me a bed for the night.
Besides consuming large amounts of curried mutton with them, I was also the recipient of blessings and tika from Mr and Mrs Basnet, as well as from many of their relatives, whom we visited this past Sunday afternoon. Here you can see the village priest from Chobar, Mr Basnet's hometown, giving his blessings to Mr and Mrs Basnet, who in turn gave blessings and tikas to their children and to me.
Where I think North Americans, Europeans, and Japanese can be described as rich in material comforts, Nepali's might be described as rich in time – Dashain lasts a full 15 days. It is Nepal's Christmas, or Oshogatsu, the one time of year when work stops and everyone goes home to be with family. Lots of food; lots of drink; lots of laying about and enjoying the company of friends and family.
Two traditional activities are pictured here: the village swing, constructed of rope and bamboo and erected in the park right in front of the Basnet's house; and cards, pictured here with my nephew Sandip and his lovely cousin, whose name I don't now recall.
Dashain runs through the rest of the week, finishing on the day of the full moon. If you have any Nepalese friends or acquaintances, please be sure to wish them a “Happy Dashain.”