Category Archives: Festivals and Traditions

Bhimphedi’s festival: Bhimsen Jatra

Written by Isabel Valero, volunteer at Bhimphedi children’s home.

As in Catalonia, in Bhimphedi, the town’s biggest party is celebrated, Bhimsen Jatra. It’s the event for the villagers and there are people from the surroundings, even if there are people who take days off to enjoy the party. Bhimsen is the God of commerce, industry and fortune, but some people say that is also the God of power and strenght.

The night before, some villagers already began to celebrate the party with music and carry on the shoulders the rath, the house of Bhimsen, across the main street stopping in front of the houses to offer food and burn incense. After stopping by the two street temples, all the people started dancing until late.

The next day, from 4 to 9 in the morning, the villagers went to the temple to offer food and the sacrifice of hens, cooks or goats to Bhimsen and make him happy.

A man about to sacrifice his goat.

Devotees waiting in line to offer food to Bhimsen

Until 12, in Balmandir, children and didis were preparing to go to school, but this time not to sit and study in classrooms, but because different dance performances were celebrated, and Kamal and Ramraj took part of it, they did it great! We had bad weather at the beginning but later was a nice day. All the performances lasted until 6 in the afternoon. The children also took the opportunity to buy some toy, candy, or balloon on one of their market stands.

Paraditas de globos en las calles

Kamal and Ramraj dancing

At 7pm the DJ started. The school was full of people and the songs sounded high decibel, as if it were a nightclub! A party for the young people of the town!

Just when the DJ ended up, at 10pm the procession started with the rath, but leaving the temple and reaching the square was not an easy thing, in fact, that was all about it! As Bhimsen is the God of the strength, they had to carry the rath until the temple of the Bhimphedi square with people over, and that gave the strength to the carriers, fact that caused that the rath fell down many times and went side to side of the street. In addition, the people of the town lighted torches when rath passed in front of their houses to show respect to Bhimsen. A journey that can be done in 5 minutes lasted more than 2 hours!

Preparing rath for the night parade
Lighting de torches in arrival for the rath

Once the rath arrived at the place, the walk through all Bhimphedi could be made more calmly, since it had been shown that the spokes carriers were strong enough to have arrived there.

Once again the festivals in Nepal, this time in Bhimphedi, do not stop us from surprising!

In front of the courtains

Written by Daniel Roig, coordinator of the Bhimphedi Children’s Home

Anuj and Raju are two children rescued from the street by the police when they were very small. So, we do not know of any relative of them. But you do not feel pity for them because they do not have a bad life. They study 3rd grade in English medium in the Bhimphedi Community School in a beautiful village in Nepal. They live in a house with many brothers and sisters who take care of them (staff and volunteers), a house with garden, kitchen garden, soccer field, computer room, swing, with guitars and movies every Friday.

They have been especially happy this week because February 14th was Raju’s birthday and two days later Anuj’s, and they celebrated together. First they did it in the school, they brought candies and all the children sang “Happy Birthday” when all the kids are ready to enter their classes.

At home we also organized a very fun competition to see who was going to get the prize: a starred tissue and a chocolate bar.

First test: Fishing bottles

Second test: Blind score

Third test: go to the other side unnoticed

Fourth test: Getting the packet (but it was not possible to get them if they where just competing, they had to collaborate to succeed both. And they did!

Special test: Open the present as fast as you can to get an extra chocolate tablet

In the package they found their birthday presents, in each package: a pencil case full of school supplies and a very modern jeans.

The following week was not bad for these kids neither, because it was the festival of Shivaratri and we made a huge bonfire and we ate, danced and sang around it! If you want to know more about this festival you can see the posts we wrote in previous years: Shivaratri 2015 i Shivaratri 2016.


But this is what you can see on the stage, but behind the curtains there are many people working to make possible that all these initially underprivileged children have a happy childhood and a chance to learn a lot in Bhimphedi Children’s Home.

On top of the sponsors, it is absolutely essential the work of many people who altruistically organizes activities to raise money for the children’s home.

Do not miss what happens behind the curtains in the next post!

Saraswoti Puja

Written by Daniel Roig, coordinator of the Children’s Home

Although there is no fixed number of deities in Hinduism, there is the popular concept that there are 330 million of gods and goddesses. Naturally there is no list with all their names, and many are considered different avatars (manifestations) of the same gods.

Of all these gods, naturally, some stand out and have much presence in the lives and culture of Nepali people. Brahma (the creator of the Universe), Vishnu (the preserver or protector of the Universe) and Shiva (the destroyer or Judge of the Universe) form the Trimurti, the three aspects of the supreme universal God. These three aspects symbolize the whole circle of “Samsara” in Hinduism (the cycle of reincarnation).

There are the three goddesses and consorts of the Trimurti. Saraswoti (goddess of intellect and art), Laksmi (goddess of prosperity) and Parvati (goddess of fertility and love) form the “Tridevi”.

Saraswoti is the goddess of the arts, creativity, intellect and letters. In almost all the compounds of temples in Nepal you can find a small independent temple dedicated exclusively to this goddess. You can recognize her by her four arms, sitting on a lotus flower, dressed in a white “sari”. Often holding a book and a vina (stringed instrument). Her vehicle is a swan.

The day of worship to Saraswoti (Saraswoti Puja) is considered the end of winter and is very celebrated in Nepal. People believe that this day is the best day to start learning something. Parents and schools take young children to temples dedicated to Saraswoti to write their first letters on the walls with a chalk.

On this day students worship books, pens, notebooks… Musicians worship their instruments and artists worship their tools.

The schools of Bhimphedi also celebrated this special day. The teachers and students made a ceremony and everyone was offered with some food in honor of Saraswoti.

It is a really special day in the community school where all parents are invited, students show dances and school awards to the best students of the previous year: The three students with the best marks in each class, the student with the least absences, the tidiest student…

Some children of Balmandir danced (Basu, Samir, Raju, Sarita, Purnima, Santa, Sumit, Bishnu and Ramesh) and also won some of the prices: Basudev, Raju, Sushil and Bishnu for their marks and Manuj, Bishnu (again) and Ashish tied with the best attendance, missing only 2 days out of the 209 school days. Hopefully next year it will be even better.

Nor castanyada or Halloween. In Balmandir we celebrate Tihar

Writen by Marina Viñas, volunteer of Children’s Home

This last month we go from celebration to celebration. Once finished Dashain, it is the turn of Tihar, also known as Depawali and Yamapanchak. Five-day-long Hindu festival of lights, music and dance that begins with the Kaag Tihar and ends with the Bhai Tika.


Walking by Bhimphedi we see that the shops are filled with garlands, flowers, pigments of colors and lights that will be used to decorate all the houses. In the street, in front of each house, we see patterns on the floor (such as mandalas) made of colored rice, dry flour, colored pigments and flower petals. It is the so-called Rangoli, which is meant to be the sacred welcoming for the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism. We also note that it is time to paint the facades and put lighting – like Christmas at home -.  And garlands of flowers in the doors and windows. Balmandir could not be less. In the first place, rooms must be thoroughly cleaned and Krishna commissioned to children to paint “the circus”. The Didis, with the help of the smaller ones, made the flower garlands that were placed on the doors and windows. We also put lights on each one of the modules of Balmandir. How nice, at night, when Balmandir is lit red, blue and green! And in addition with candles in front of each door.

The “Rangoli” of Balmandir
Manoj doing garlands




Tihar is the second biggest Nepalese festival after Dashain and shows reverence to humans, Gods and animals – as crows, cows and dogs-. Each of the five days of Tihar feast has a specific symbolism. The first day is called Kaag Tihar. The cawing of crows and ravens symbolizes sadness and grief in Hinduism, so devotees offer crows and ravens sweets and foods placed on the roofs of houses to avert grief and death in their homes. The second day is called Kukur Tihar. People offer garlands, tika and delicious foods to dogs – the animal that occupy a special place in Hindu mythology – and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and dogs.


The third day – Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja-  people shows their gratefulness to the cow by garlanding and feeding them with the best grass; and Laxmi – the goodess of wealth – is thanked for all the benefits that were bestowed on the families by lighting oil lamps or candles on doorways and windows. That day, Deusi and Bhailo is celebrated with lights and fireworks. Deusi is balladic and tells the story of the festival, with one person narrating and the rest as the chorus. In returns, owners give money, fruit and sel-roti (a Nepali roundel made of rice flour and sugar). On the fourth day of Tihar, there are three different known pujas, depending on the people’s cultural background: Goru Tihar or Goru Puja – worship of the oxen -, Govardhan Puja – which is worship towards goverdhan mountain – or Mha Puja – worship of self -.

The fifth day is called Bhai Tika. It is the last day of Tihar and the most expected for the girls of Balmandir. That day, the girls put the tika to their brothers to ensure long life and thank them for their protection. The girls of Balmandir made a ritual (with the help of Didi Beli) difficult to count with words. All the children sat on the floor and girls began: they made two circles – one yellow and one red – on the floor, in front of each child, in which they put flower petals and incense; they spread oil and water around all children; one by one, they placed flower petals on the head, put the tika on the forehead and offered them sweets and water while the boys offered them money. Once completed, all ate fruit and typical Nepalese food. It was a very special moment.

Didi Beli preparing all under the attention of Purnima, Sarita and Susmita



PS. We can not lie to you… we didn’t miss the opportunity to eat some chestnuts to celebrate the “Castanyada” either.


Small magical nooks.

Written by Joana Alsina volunteer at the Children’s Home.

Dashain is already over but we are still in holidays waiting for Tihar’s festival. During these holidays the weather is being very nice so we decided to do some excursions. The first hike we did was with the youngest ones. We took the goats to graze to the hills and after crossing the river we went until the Peepal Tree, a sacred tree.


There is quite a climb from the river to the tree. Some of us climbed quickly and others went slowly, but all of us finished sweaty. From the tree there is a beautiful view of Bhimphedi. Sitting under the tree contemplating the landscape was very relaxing, but the calm did not last long! Kids wanted to go back down quickly because they knew that after the hike we would go to the river for fishing and bathing. And they really love it!


After a week, we did another hike but this one was a serious trip. Our destination: Hattisude hills, the elephant trunk mountain (2900m). Only the biggest ones were allowed to do it. We left after Dalbhat around 9 am with our backpacks full of water. We went to Supping, the neighbour town located at the top of a small mountain. We crossed a hanging bridge and we started climbing. Along the way we met people over-loaded with plants, packages, shopping or milk-can on the back.

Hanging bridge.

After half an hour we reached Supping. This village is divided into three areas: Low, Middle and Upper Supping. The houses are scattered through the mountains and there are approximately 700 residents. His livelihood is agriculture, horticulture and livestock. Corn is the main crop but they also cultivate ginger, beans, peas and other legumes. At this season they have already harvested the corn. There we could see corn drying hanged in the balcony or forming circles in the columns of the houses. When we arrived to Upper Supping we met Maya and Ram (Children’s home workers) who would guide us to climb Hattisude Hills.

Upper-Supping house.

So, we went to the jungle with beautiful landscapes behind us. At the beginning the path was well marked but we lose it and we started to climb the mountain. As they say “monkey way.” There were many trees and plants unknown to us, even though we were in the jungle we didn’t see many animals, only a lot of leeches! If you stopped to breath for a few minutes they already were inside your shoes, or climbing up the pants. If you put your hands on the floor to help yourself to climb, in seconds you could find leeches between your fingers and on the arms. It was a very enriching experience, especially for them!

Finally we returned to the main path when we were already close to the top. The jungle was becoming clearer and there were few trees, exposing a completely different landscape; meadows of tall grass with flowers and really wonderful views.


At the south side, towards Hetauda, we could see a small village surrounded by high mountains. To the north side we could see Bhimphedi, Balmandir and even the Peepal Tree. The pity was that we couldn’t see Himalayas because of some clouds.

The team: Sushil, Ramesh S, Bishwo, Sumit, Bishnu, Ramesh T, Krishna, Ram, Maya, Marina and Joana.

After 4 hours walking we took snack. Maya told us that she was born in the summit of this mountain. Her parents farmed these lands, where they grew potatoes and lived in a stone house.

Maya in the summit of the mountain.

The descent was much quicker, although we often stopped to harvest medicinal plants, fruits and flowers. This time we went down by the right path and it was much easier. When we reached to Middle Supping we took a little path that led us among the crops and we went to visit Krishna’s family. We were invited to a cup of tea and some cookies.

Krishna’s family.

Finally at 5 pm we went down back home with tired legs but with the mind full of memorable images that we carry with us.


Note: I would like to thank Marina for her great contribution to this tour, attracting all the leeches. Thank you for your generosity, we all appreciated it very much!

Dashain lagyo

Written by Marina Vinas, volunteer of Children’s Home

The Dashain is the Nepal’s national holiday comparable to Christmas. It is the main, longest and most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat, the 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 to prepare the needed things for the tika day. Eleven days later, when we reached to the Children’s Home in the morning and opened the door, kids shouted: “they’re here, they’re here!”. They were anxiously waiting for us to start the festival, all dressing the new clothes (new pants or shoes) they had got a couple of days earlier. Maya opened the door of the “storeroom” where she had left a leave plate with seeds. A floral scent from the germinated sprouts came into our noses. In the TV room all was ready: a tray with rice mixed with flowers, a vase of flowers, a tray full of things for the tika (rice, colour powders and yogurt) and the germinated grass. 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) and gave to each of them a hand of germinated grass 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.

Maya begins the ceremony with Susmita, Sarita and Purnima
Krishna putting the tika to Samir
Belly putting the tika to the Balmandir and Awasuka volunteers
We also put the tika to the Balmandir kids

During these holidays they also make other rituals such as animal sacrifice. Normally we eat “masu” (meat) only on Saturday night, which is the holiday of each week in Nepal. But during the days of Dashain “masu” 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 who made the sacrifice of one of our goats. I was lucky that when I discovered the reason he had come for, the goat had already been sacrificed. Joana and I went to the place they were doing the ritual and Basu, helped by Ram and under the eyes of the Balmandir kids, 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 tasted the goat meat.

Peeling the goat


Washing the intestines

Still I have to tell you about another tradition. These days all children make kites and make them fly high, very high. Almost as high as the mountains that surround us. They have not explained the meaning, but perhaps these kites are done to make fly our best wishes to all.

Ramesh Syangtan making one kite

Happy Dashain !!

Dashain is coming

Written by Marina Viñas volunteer at the Children’s Home

Since the beginning of the month all is being prepared for the most important festival held in Nepal, Dashain. The translation would be “10 days”. Two weeks ago the older kids of Balmandir wanted to go to the tree to catch some leaves. Going to the tree to catch some leaves? It seems like an excuse just to go doing a tour. The next day we understood why they wanted to go to the tree. From Balmandir we can see a beautiful tree in the opposite mountain, on the other side of the river. It is a majestic tree from which there are magnificent views of Bhimphedi. There they managed to collect some leaves that Didi Maya needed to make the dish / tray where some seeds are germinated for 10 days. On the eleventh day germinated is used to put the Dashain’s “tica”.

Didi Maya preparing the “tica” dishes
Dishes already finished
Didi Maya prepares the tica’s germinate while Som looks attentively

The smallest of the house have spent the last week doing greating cards. With colored paper, scissors, glue and imagination they have made beautiful postcards with his best wishes to the teachers of the school.

Preparing the grating cards

On Thursday morning …. all the kids woke up with a smile on his face. “Today is the last school day!!!”. The classes ended at noon and holiday began. This morning we prepared a night game with the help of the oldest boys of Balmandir (they already finished the school). In the evening we wanted to give yogurt for dessert to celebrate the beginning of the holidays. But …. monkeys have stolen the Maya’s keys and we can’t open the fridge !!! We can’t take yogurt !!! This was the beginning of the story. After winning several games, we got a map with the key location. We went into the darkness of the night to recover it and be able to eat the yogurt. Mmm!!! A great holiday’s beginning.

Ramesh drawing the map
Rojan and Ashish preparing one of the games
Ramseh Thami and Manoj trying to win one of the games
Ramesh Thami is the winner
Can we untangle?
Deciphering the mapa

On Saturday morning … well, morning, morning … rather we should say the early morning from Friday to Saturday. At 3 o’clock in the morning we were prepared for the traditional tour to the temple, the tour that they usually do every early morning in the 10 prior days to the “tica’s day”. With some of the BAlmandir kids and Krishna (the director) we went up. Up, up, up … we didn’t think it was so much above. After almost an hour of walking and coming across groups of people who already returned, we reached the temple. Once there, three rounds to the temple, a bell ringing and a hot tea to regain strength before returning to Balmandir.

The temple
The morning people

And today, three days before the “tica’s day” (the most important day of Dashain), they have reached gifts. Like Christmas at home. All the kids in Balmandir have new pants or shoes. Like it is said: a picture is better than thousand words.

Happy Dashain !!

The gifts
Everybody is ready to recived the gifts
Krishna giving the gift to Kiran
The new shoes of Bishwo
The new jeans of Sarita
Manisha drawing a hena tatoo to Sarita
And that’s the result

Back home for Dashain

Dashain and Tihar are the most important festivals in Nepal, the equivalent of our Christmas. When the dates of these festivals are near is very difficult to find place on any bus, everyone wants to go to their own hometown.

In our Children’s Home there are also some kids who know some relatives and they can go to spend the these festivals with them. This year 9 of the 26 children of the Bhimphedi Children’s Home have gone with relatives! The rest of the children (mostly the younger children of whom we don’t know any relatives) stay in the Children’s Home, where we celebrate Dashain and Tihar as any other family.

In fact some of the boys and girls who have left the Children’s Home to live in another Children’s Home or to live by themselves also come to meet us for a few days and receive a “tika”.

This year is special because we have found the families of one of our boys, Jay, and one of the girls, Bipana. In both cases the children didn’t remember their families, but after a good research work, leaded by the director of the Children’s Home Krishna Pudasaini and many hours of bus, we managed to find their families, both more than 20 hours away from Bhimphedi. Thus, these children will spend Dashain this year with their families for the first time since they were very young.

Ramraj has also gone to his village for the first time since he has memory. To go to his village he must travel for 20 hours by bus, take a plane and then walk some hours. A very complicated trip, but it will worth it.

Ramraj’s brother has come to pick him from the Children’s Home. They will celebrate this Dashain together.

Kush, Love, Sujan and Kamal, from very remote areas of western Nepal, will meet their families after three years without meeting them.

Krishna (right), who had gone to investigate about Jay’s family (second from right) and had found his family, against all the odds, continued the trip to the north-west of the country to leave Love (left) and his brother Kush in their house where they still they have one uncle. Their village is located in the wonderful Khaptad National Park.
View of the Khaptad National Park.

Let’s hope next year we can also find new families and even make family reunifications as we have done this year with Sita and Arati.

Happy Dashain to everyone!

Some days ago, Anna Brunet and I (Daniel Roig) visited Arati in Kalaya to wish a happy Dashain to her and her 3 siblings.
This year Arati doesn’t live with us in Bhimphedi Children’s Home but she studies in a private school in Kalaya where she can share her life with her two sisters and one brother. This year it will be the first Dashain that Arati will celebrate with her siblings in the last 12 years.

Celebrating the Children’s Day

Written by Marina Viñas and Joana Alsina, volunteers at the Children’s Home

14th of September was the Children’s Day. A general knowledge quiz was prepared in the primary school and the Ramesh Thami team was the winner. It was a nice present for his birthday.




Ramesh team, winner of the general knowledge quiz

A gymkhana prepared by Krishna – the Balmandir’s director – was prepared for the return of the children from the school. There were different kind of games depending on the age. The first one was “hit the pot”: one stick was in the middle of the football field with an iron pot upside. Each blindfolder player had to touch the pot using a stick. There were some players that just went along, others went far from the pot and few of them get it easily. Even  Ram (the cook) and Maya (didi) tried it.

Hit the pot

After that, it was the time for the younger children. They were ready for the bag race, ready to start with the whistle signal. Some fell halfway but others continued jumping until finish the race.

The next game was the apple ones: children must eat the apple without using their hands.  The last game was the spoon-bowls race that Purnima won.

Ready for the bag race

When the gynkhana had finished, the party continued with the football final and the Ramesh birthday celebration. After dinner, we prepared good desserts and presents for the gymkhana winners, and Ramesh also had his birthday’s present. A good ending to celebrate Children’s Day.

Football winner team: Sujan, Prabhat, Sushil, Kamal, Krishna and Santa.



The first rice party

Written by Marina Viñas and Joana Alsina, volunteers at the Children’s Home

Yesterday was 11th September, the national day of Catalunya. In Bhimphedi it was also an important day because one of the village family celebrated the “Bhat Khuwair” (first rice) of Chesang, their six months old son, one of 16 basic rituals that are part of the life of a Hindu.

But the family used the opportunity to celebrate the “Ghunyo Choli” for their daughter Chheku Dolma (a celebration in which parents give clothes to her daughter, mandatory celebration for every girl at any age, but always before she has the age to marry).

Three children from the children’s home were lucky, because studying in fifth grade, the same class as the Chheku, they were invited to the party too.

The celebration began in the morning and people kept going to the house, taking their gift for the honored kids. In the afternoon we enjoyed this celebration together: Dani, the Manisha, Ramesh Thami, Bishnu, Sushil and the volunteers of Balmandir. There were more than half of the town. Perhaps 200 people!

Manisha and Dani with the three kids from the children’s home invited to the party.
Some of the friends of Chheku.

The backyard was nicely decorated with a tent built with different colored clothing where the Dalbhat and dessert were served. Outside, there were many chairs and benches so that everyone could take a snack comfortably. Often it appeared someone to serve you more drinks or fill up the plate. Once we were full we went to the porxo, chairs were removed and the garden became a dancefloor. A great feast! Good food, good drink and good dance!