North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nepal's Festival of Dasain

Let's get away from the carnage of Syria, special forces raids and immigration sinkings from Africa, and all the rest of the trouble spots that we look at with despair, and head to Nepal, where winter is fast closing in.

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Nepal is a small country, though with a population of over 27 million, strategically located between the two most populous nations on earth - India and China. Its capital is Kathmandu. The map from shows Nepal on the Indian subcontinent.

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From Wikipedia, we learn, "The mountainous north of Nepal has eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, called Sagarmatha in Nepali." Map also from wikipedia ...

Every October in this small country nestled up into the Himalayan mountains celebrates a 10-day festival of Dasain. From, we read, "Dasain is Nepal's most colorful annual festival, featuring 10 days of bathing in holy rivers, masked dancing, kite flying, bamboo swinging displays and a final four days of spectacular celebrations. It's a wonderful festival for people but not a particularly healthy one for their animals.

Generally the first six days are not celebrated publicly, but on the seventh day, Fulpati -- the public festivities -- begin. These include a procession of government officials from Kathmandu's royal palace, accompanied by a marching band, ritualistic receptions and the placing of sacred garlands of flowers at Hanuman Dhoka Gate. The eighth day, Kalratri, is the "black night" as the slaughter of goats, sheep and buffalo begins and continues on to the ninth day, when thousands of animals are sacrificed in Kot, the courtyard outside the Taleju temple. This day also sees a rather unappetizing display of Hindus sprinkling their cars with the blood of the animals to ward off evil spirits from the Goddess Durga and to prevent car accidents.

Looks like spectacular views are all over the country ... from a blog with few words, but plenty of pics

The tenth day, Bijaya Dashami, Hindus and Buddhists go to their elders to receive tika, rice patties immersed in a red liquid, that is then placed as a spot on their foreheads. That afternoon people gather and make their way to the temple of Nardevi for the Festival of the Sword, Khadga Jatra, which represents the victory of good over evil, commemorating the legendary killing of a demon by the goddess Durga. This is also considered the luckiest day of the year for Nepalis to gamble..."

So, that's the tourist version, here's another look at it:

The festival occurs during the 7th Nepalese month of kartika (mid October to mid November, and the year starts in our April) which is a reminder that our western twelve month calendar is a construct ...

Similar to the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years, hysterically fixated on in the Western media, this festival sees the Nepalese government shutting down for 10-15 days each year so that people can celebrate good over evil, and strengthen community ties. Not a bad concept...

Certain days stand out - 1,7,8,9,10 - here's a few excerpts pulled from Wikipedia:

Day 1: Ghatasthapana
A pot is filled with water, cow dung and barley seed and the emergence of grass from the sprouting seed later on, represents the emerging goddess Durga for the rest of the festival. The festival is first and foremost a celebration of the goddess who emerged and triumphed over the demon Mahishasura, thus saving everyone from terror.

The goddess Durga, from

Day 7: Fulpati
The day when the barley seed sprouts and grows into sacred grass, jamara


Day 8: Kalrati or Maha Asthami
This is the day when the most demonic side of Goddess Durga’s manifestations, the Kali, is appeased through the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of buffaloes, goats, pigeons and ducks in temples throughout the nation. Blood, symbolic for its fertility, is offered to the Goddesses. Appropriately enough, the night of this day is called Kal Ratri (Black Night).

from a particularly good blog post on the festival,

Day 9: Maha Navami
Ceremonies and rituals reach the peak on this day. On this day the Vishwakarma, the god of creativeness is also worshiped as it believed that all the things which help is in making a living should be kept happy. Artisans, craftsmen, traders, and mechanics worship and offer animal and fowl blood to their tools, equipment, and vehicles. And, since it is believed that worshiping the vehicles on this day avoids accidents for the year all the vehicles from bikes, cars to trucks are worshiped on this day.

Day 10: Dashami
On this day, a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion is prepared by the women, known as "tika". Elders put this tika and jamara which was sewn in the ghatasthapana on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with abundance in the upcoming years. The red also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together. Elders give "Dakshina", or a small amount of money, to younger relatives at this time along with the blessings.


Interesting, exotic, and there are items in this festival that could resonate well for all of us.

Like large cities everywhere, here is Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal - the background might be exotic, but the sprawl of civilization balances it out, from

1 comment:

Teatree said...

And to balance things out even further, Teatree had no idea that there were rhinos in Nepal ...

BBC article: Nepal arrests 14 over rhino poaching