Written by Marina Vinas, volunteer of Children’s Home
The Dashain is the Nepal’s national holiday comparable to Christmas. It is the main, the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat annual calendar celebrated by all Nepalese people. During these days, everyone goes to the family house (parent’s home) and spend these days together making offerings and various rituals to worship goddess Durga in all its manifestations. Balmandir family could not be less and we also celebrated the Dashain.
A few days ago Maya Didi began preparing all needed for the tika day. Eleven days later, when we reached the center in the morning and opened the door … “they’re here, they’re here!”. They were anxiously waiting us, all with new clothes (new pants or shoes) we had given them a couple of days earlier. Now we could start. Maya opened the door of the “storeroom” where he had left the dishes with seeds and a floral scent from germinated sprouts came into our nose. In the TV room all was ready: a tray with rice mixed with flowers, a vase of flowers, a tray with a mix for the tika – rice, coloring and yogurt – and the germinated. According to tradition, elders put this tika on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with abundance in the upcoming years and give them the “Dakshin” – a small amount of money – . So Didi Maya began: first she took the flowers and, as if she was baptizing, she sprinkled some water over their heads. Then she threw some rice with flowers and put them the tika on the forehead, between the eyes (where the third eye is). Finally, she gave an outbreak of germinated wrapped with money. She did this with each child, from the younger to the older. And the big surprise was that she also put the tika to us! Then it was the Krishna’s turn (center director) and Ram (the cook). And finally, the Belly Didi’s turn. After that, we asked if we also could put the tika so Joana and I could also blessing with our best wishes to each of them.
During these holidays they also make other rituals such as animal sacrifice. In fact, normally we eat “massu” (meat) only on Saturday night, which is the holiday of each week in Nepal. But during the days of Dashain “massu” is very much present in every meal. A chicken one day, buffalo another day. And the surprise was yesterday morning when Krishna came with Basu, a man who had come expressly to make the sacrifice of one of our goats. When we discover the reason he had come, “luckily” the goat had been sacrificed. We went to the place they were doing the ritual and Basu, helped by Ram and under the eyes of the Balmandir kids, he began to peel the goat, clean, smear it with an orange paste (which as explained to me is to preserve and flavor) and make different cuts. After removing the different organs, the kids helped clean them. That day the members of the Nepal Children’s Organization came to Balmandir to put the tika and all together we taste the meat goat.
Finally, here there is another tradition. These days all children make kites and make them fly. And here the kites fly high, very high. Almost as high as the mountains those surround us. They have not explained the meaning, but perhaps these kites are done to flying high our best wishes to all.
Happy Dashain !!