Tihar and our neighbours

We have been here around nine weeks and we decided to have a short break in Pokhara which is Nepal’s second city with great views of the Himalayas.

Himalayan sunrise from Green Pastures - INFs leprosy hospital, Pokhara
Himalayan sunrise from Green Pastures – INFs leprosy hospital, Pokhara

It has been the Hindu festival of light which is the biggest festival of the year and a national holiday in Nepal. Not much is happening work wise so our building project (which is almost completed!!!) had stopped and we took the opportunity to get away. Celebrations include, Christmas lights, dance parties in the streets till late and the kids doing the Nepali equivalent of trick or treat.

Traditional dancing from the balcony of Phills Inn guesthouse
Traditional dancing from the balcony of Phill’s Inn guesthouse

The festival itself is spread over three or four days of worshipping different things; crow’s, dogs and brothers all have their day (I’m sure I missed some in that list). So every dog does have its day in Nepal! The dogs get the treatment – a garland of marigolds, tikka on the forehead and fed properly for a day.

Our friend Anjay's dog getting the treatment
Our friend Anjay’s dog getting the treatment

Mind they are only Holy and worshipped for one day and after that you get to beat them again similarly brothers are prayed for and blessed with a long life and prosperity, given a garland, tikka on their foreheads (representing the third eye (wisdom or perception)) and receive gifts from the family. (Maybe you get to beat your brother the next day too? ;-))

Anyway before we left we and the wonderful family we are living with felt we should bless the five families that live next door to us. Next door used to be a three storey house but today it’s the equivalent of several tin roofed garages made from the rubble. Five families and seven children are living there. So we all went to find out what they needed or how we could help. Somehow we managed to communicate in very broken Nepali and work out numbers and needs. Blessing people can sometimes be a tricky job and you get some insight into Nepali culture and it’s brokenness when you set out on these adventures.

Our neighbours with some of their gifts
Our neighbours with some of their gifts

It’s often the wives that are out working and expected to cook and wash clothes etc too whilst the men do little other than wait around drinking or playing board games. Finding ways to bless the whole family that won’t get sold on by the father’s for another drink is the main objective. It’s getting cold so we set out on our mission to buy blankets and rice. Hopefully it’s cold enough at night for the blankets to not get sold! Eva took the opportunity to give toys and sweets to all the children so everyone was happy.

Eva giving games to the kids
Eva giving games to the kids

Blessing people is also tricky with the other neighbours as the cast system is still strong and many neighbours don’t talk to these guys let alone visit them. Let’s pray this small act of kindness starts something more positive with our neighbours and opens hearts and minds.

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