Category Archives: Festivals and Traditions

Janay Purnima, the Full Moon of August

Purnima is one of the girls who joined us in Bhimphedi Children’s Home last April. Her name means “Full Moon” in Nepali. A very appropriate name, because her eyes are as spectacular as the moon in its splendor.

On Thursday 18th there was the full moon of August, and this is known in Nepal as Janay Purnima, a festival which is celebrated throughout the country and India in different ways.

For the Nepalese Hindus of the mountains, priests are rubbing their hands, because it is a busy day for them: they roll a colored red and yellow thread around the left wrist of all people in exchange of some rupies. This type of bracelet will protect them but it can not be removed until Tihar, a festival held in early November.

For the Nepalese Hindus of the plains bordering India, sisters put some bracelet and “tika” to her brothers, as a sign of love and care.

Beli didi, one of the workers of the Children’s Home, putting the bracelet. Both caretakers of the Home put bracelets to all the kids and volunteers.
From up to down: Bracelets from Maya didi, from Beli didi and from the priest.

In any case in all the houses people eats “quati”, a mixture of 12 different types of pulses half sprouted with buffalo meat, reach food which provides them the energy to recover from the rainy season.

The day before the Janay Purnima festival, our Purnima had warned us: “Tomorrow is my birthday!”. In the file, the birthday is not that (besides the festival changes the date with the Moon). But her brother, a year elder than her, supported his sister statement. So the day of the August Full Moon, we didn’t only celebrate Janay Purnima festival, but we also celebrated the birthday of our Purnima.

The celebration was pretty beautiful, singing songs and eating cake in the light of the full moon of August (throughout the afternoon we had one of the common energy cuts).









The gift was a box of crayons, and still another box of plastic colors and little box of paints, with a small notebook of white sheets to draw. All wrapped up among dozens of newspaper sheets, and girl exultant of joy.






The diversity of festivals of Nepal, and the intensity they celebrate them, is surprising: the very next day of Janay Purnima, we celebrate Gai Jatra (the cow festival of the Newar caste) which commemorates the dead of that year. On next Thursday, we will celebrate Krishna Astami (birthday of Lord Krishna) on Friday Bhimsen Jatra (the big festival of Bhimphedi). The following week the Father’s day, followed by Teej the women’s day. The next week, Indra Jatra and between all these festivals still we will celebrate an Islamic festival, but we can not say the exact date till one day before celebrating. It is a country of festivals.

One cow dressed for Gai Jatra, the Newari festival to commemorate the defunct of last year.
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Prachande, the funny character of Gai Jatra, who throws water dirty of cow poop to any fool who dares to come near him.
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Some kids dressed for the Gai Jatra, remembering the defunct of the last year.

We must also say that we are not only entertained by these festivals, but we also have bus strike because the traffic police has been very strict allowing buses only to take the people fitting in the seats, which leaves the owners of buses without profit and the villagers without transportation (because there is never any seats available). And of course if there are no buses, teachers can not come to the village to teach, so the school is also closed. As I said, Nepal is a festival of a country…

A wedding out of the ordinary

The coordinator of the Children’s Home is getting married with one of the teachers of the school! The children of the children’s home are very excited. All their friends don’t stop asking about the topic that everyone talks about in Bhimphedi.

Children Balmandir are eager to celebrate! We will celebrate our wedding only within the family: Manisha’s family and mine in Nepal (meaning the children and workers of the children’s home).

“When is the wedding?” Here things can not be planned, if someone plans something sure Nepal will make sure your plans change. This uncertainty makes things difficult but exciting. Even five days before the event, when the date was already fixed on Sunday 26th June, and some guests had already hired the jeep to come on Saturday to Bhimphedi from Kathmandu, things changed: the priest told to Manisha’s family that Sunday was not a good day for the wedding, so we had to do it on Friday, two days earlier. Everyone, run…

On Friday morning, accompanied by all the children and staff of the Children’s Home and friends, in a well decorated car and dressed in a peculiar way, the groom moves to the bride’s house.

1) sortida 2

2) cotxe

2) cotxe i gent

2) gent 2

3) arribada

3) arribada i monjo

After her family welcomes the coming team, we celebrate the ceremony in a small temple and take the bride. Here, when the girl gets married becomes part of the family of the husband. But in this case however, Manisha not change her surname or stop meeting her family.

5) despres de la cerimonia foto de grup

5) despres de la cerimonia foto de parella

4) celebrant la cerimonia

4) celebrant la cerimonia detalls

4) cerimonia anell

4) celebrant la cerimonia en el temple

5) despres de la cerimonia ballant

6) festa foto de grup

6) festa i foto dels nuvis

Friday afternoon the party took place in Balmandir, all the kids had lots of fun: creating the decoration, preparing gifts, eating lots of delicious foods (including lamb, chicken and paneer) and especially dancing.
Boys and girls who no longer live at the Children’s Home this year also came to the party, so this was also a good excuse for meeting friends and brothers. A day to remember!

6) festa pel basu 3

6) festa i menjar

6) menjar 2

One of the gifts that the children and volunteers prepared for us was a video: any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence…

Celebrating Shivaratri

Written by Isabel Valero, Bhimphedi Children Home volunteer

Shivaratri or Maha Shivaratri means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva: it is a festival to celebrate the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is celebrated on the 6th night of the dark Falgun (March) every year.

Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the ′Tandava′, a traditional dance. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma. On this day Shiva devotees observe fast and offer fruits, flowers and leaves on Shiva Linga.

Main Shiva Linga in Ek Khandi temple
Dani and Jai next to the 108 Shiva Linga in the temple

At night, like the Sant Joan night, they lit big bonfires. So for two days the children and volunteers have gone to look for firewood for the bonfire to make in the shelter.

Some of the children having a refreshing bath before carrying the logs.
Susan cutting a big log
Kamal and Papu carrying a big log that we don’t know how many kg!

To make the party more memorable, the girls of the house decided that all girls, Didi and me wore the “sari” (the traditional gown). And so, while the boys prepared the logs and lit the bonfire we got the “saris” and it is not an easy task! All we had one in a different color. What joy!

Didis, Binita and Isabel wearing the saris
The girls wearing the sari and Sumit in a smart suit for the occasion
The girls wearing sari and Dani posing for the photo

Once all preparations were ready, everyone gathered around the bonfire to dance and sing while Didis or any of the guys made sound with “madal”, the percussion instrument typical of Nepal.

Dancing and singing next to the bonfire
Some of the guys about to put the log in the bonfire
Some of the boys posing nex to the bonfire

But it seems that was not enough in Bhimphedi these fires, they also wanted to coincide the “controlled” burning  of the undergrowth. You can often see lines of fire in the mountains (which fail to burn the trees), but this time it is oute of control…

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One of the mountains of the valley in fire.
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Behind the fire made for the Shivaratri, you can see the big fire on the mountain to burn the dry grasses of the forest.
Bipana dancing next to the bonfire while there is a fire in the mountain.

There is no festival in Nepal without a special meal for the occasion. For Shivaratri Didis prepared “halwa“, a type of mash meal, granulated sugar, milk, ghee (a type of butter), cashews, raisins and cardamom. Everyone went through the kitchen to go to eat some pieces, until Didis decided it was time to distribute it, and all had a binge of it!

Didi distributing halwua to Ashish

Now there are two more days holidays: Women’s day and Gyalpo Lhosar or Sherpa New Year Eve (men of the east), a caste that is mainly in the eastern Himalayan Nepal. Children will use these days to study a little and especially be ready for final exams.

Maghe Sankrati festival

Written by Krishna Pudasaini, Center Chief of Bhimphedi Children Home:

Maghe Sankrati was celebrated across the country on January, 15th 2016 (1st Magh 2072). This festival takes place every year, on the first day of Magh (nepali month).

It remarks the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season. In every house, friends and relatives enjoy Magne Sakranti by eating ghee, chaaku (a kind of fright sugar), yam, selroti (a fright doughnut), tharul (sweet potato), with other delicious varieties of food items.


On this day, devotees who lives near a river take a holy dip known as makan snan. This types of holy dips take place in different parts of the country, especially in Chitwan, which is also known as makar mela.



Magne Sakranti is the special festival for tharu community. They celebrate as their new year and the day of emancipation and they perform their cultural dances.


Newari community calle the festival as Gyhyo chaku sanun celebrating this day by eating ghee and chaaku.

On this auspicious day in Betrawati, a village situated near Rassuvoa and Nuwakot, hundreds of people observed annually bull fighting as the event to preserve their ancestors’ memory. Such event attracts people from the nearest districts as Kathmandu, Dhading, Lalitpur, Makwanpur…


We celebrated it in the Children’s Home as well. The day before, the children went to the mountain with shovels and picks to dig up the root eaten in this festival, a type of sweet potato they call “tharul.”

In the morning, everyone ate the sweet chaaku with butter (gui). At noon, it was time to eat tharul.

Some kids helping didis to peel thoru.
Some kids helping didis to peel tharu.


Som eating chaaku

Let’s celebrate the Tihar

Written by Andrea and Valeria, AWASUKA volunteers:

We started this week celebrating Tihar, a celebration that lasts only a week not like Dashain, the former religious festival we held for 15 days.

Every day was different from Tihar, the first day is the KAG Tihar where crows are worshiped and blessed by people leaving food outside the home for them. All this because it is said they bring luck!

The second day Kukur Tihar, dedicated to the most loyal friend, the dog; they put red ticas and garlands made of flowers around his neck. They do this because they say that dogs can see the danger coming and death.


The Gai (cow) and Laxmi Puja Puja is the day for the cows, they are blessed in the morning.

People paint traces in their houses in the main entrance simulating the entrance of the goddess Lakshmi, who brings happiness and luck money.

On the fourth day Goru Tihar and Mah Bid the attention will outweigh the cow dung, very important in Indian culture and the daily lives of residents who use it to everything from the finished floor , lights up the kitchens.

All the houses are decorated with a beautiful mandalas, candles and colored lights, we had a Christmas in advance. Another tradition is that at night many young children go from house to house singing the song of gods, very similar to Bhailo the singing girls, although nowadays everyone in group singing and dancing to borrow money and sweets.

A colourful mandala at the entrance of a house

The last day, Bhai Tika, sisters put a tica of seven colours to his brothers to wish them a long life and prosperity are also offering food and nuts, they give them money in return.

This is how we celebrated this week in Tihar, making Yama Raj happy, because he judges our vices and virtues after our death, and his soul will treat accordingly.

Tihar with big smiles!

Among middle of so much celebration we had time to continue working, Thursday we made another trip to Hetauda to buy more plastic for the ground and thus end up covering the entire surface of the office, an A4 printer to work with amendments we do the plans for the new prototypes and technical communities work with agility.

We’ve been twice in Jyamire Suping, where we have found more candidates to join our program AWASUKA. Here people help without expecting anything in return, thanks to a guy we met crossing one of the bridges to get Suping, we could understand many of the families affected by the earthquake, since many do not speak a word of English; but with gestures and smiles we understand without speaking the same language.

So far we have visited the houses that need to be rebuilt are made of stone and mud, most of the materials needed to rebuild the house already have: they reuse of the old stone house and a lot of wood of the house in ruins, another point in our favor is that many families have already bought new “Jasta” (plates) with which they have created their own emergency shelters, they sometimes brought the plates on foot through impossible roads. Monica helps us to recognize the pathologies they identified in the journey that many houses had suffered. With her we continue working!

Suvha Ratri! (good night)

Bhimsen Jatra, festivities in Bhimphedi

Bhimsen is the Hindu god of commerce and industry, especially revered mainly by Newaríes.

Bhimsen Jatra is held every August / September In Bhimphedi, it is the festival of the village. It is just one day but for locals is the event of the year. In the morning they make an offering to Bhimsen in the Temple of the main street, many families sacrifice a cock that they will after eat. This main street is crowded all the day, unlike the calm of any other day of the year. Some clothing stalls, balloon sellers and the usual goodies and ice cream vendors appear.








At night there is a DJ for the young people, which is quite surprising, because it is very similar to any disco we know in Europe. Young people tell us excited that last year lasted an hour, and this year will last two. They also organize a Bingo! Very slow in our opinion (the 15 minutes between the numbers is long …) but again the locals enjoy it as children.



Finally people carries the “Rath” (a figure of the god Bhimsen) on the shoulders. anyone who wants to carry it, surrounded by men with torches shouting “Lio Lio Ha !! Ha !! Payo Payo Ha !! Ha !!” whose translation (language Newari not Nepali) we have not been able to get.


Maybe you wondered, does Bhimphedi has something to do with Bhimsen? Well, yes. “Bhim” comes from Bhimsen, and “Phedi” refers to “plain at the foot of the mountains”. In Bhimphedi we are in a valley in the first mountain range (Himal) that separates the plain (Terai) and the huge Himalayas.

The big event in Bhimphedi

Thanks to a project by Rotary Club Kantipur, with financial support coming from Spain coordinated by Juan José Rodriguez, a multisports court has been built in Bhimphedi village.

Everybody was talking about it some time ago, cause it has been a long process: first its planning, then its construction process. And now it is finally completed, and everybody can play whatever they like: basketball, football, volleyball, badminton …

Although many villagers were already using the court some days ago, the official opening will be held on April 25th. The project promoters are coming to Bhimphedi from Madrid and Kathmandu, along with the sports minister and other personalities from the country. So, on April 25 a big event will take place in the village of Bhimphedi!

About one month ago, event organizers asked Laura and me to organise an exhibition basketball match with the children in our home and the children in the village. So, this month we really had to work hard, because children do not forgive any single training!

Every afternoon from 4h to 6h, and some days even in morning time from 6:30 to 8am, we had to go to the sports court and teach them how to play basketball. And most of the times we had to stop them, otherwise they would have kept on playing on and on, until midnight!

Both boys and girls have learned to play very quickly and plus, promoters offered us team t-shirts and sports shoes for the two teams, which we delivered on the events day. They all looked like real teams!! It was great to see how good they played while wearing sports shoes, after having trained wearing flip-flops! (Almost everyone in Nepal wears flip-flops, no matter it is summer, winter, rainy, must climb a mountain, or must work at construction sites). Ram Raj, the star in one of the teams, achieved to reverse the score in favor of the orange team, while executing his attack movements very well, but still having to count his steps loud, cause he had only been doing them for one week: “One, two, toss!”

After the five minutes basketball game, the speeches came. Two hours of speeches where everyone was getting infinitely bored… Finally they decided it was enough and let the local kids do some dances, “but do it quick, quick, it’s about to rain!,” master of ceremonies said…

But it’s not the rain what closes the event. The ground begins to shake… it’s an earthquake! We look at the village and we see many town houses starting to collapse, everywhere. And, far in the mountains, where many detached houses used to be, we can only see some smoke plumes.
After a long minute, the ground seems to be still again; but we are not looking at it the same way we did before: everybody is scared. Nobody had experienced an earthquake like this before… Everybody is very concerned about the consequences this quake might have had, and also to know whether it is stopped or it will have more afterquakes. We all head to the village very quickly…
On April 25 there has been a big event in the village of Bhimphedi! Although it was totally different event than what we all expected …
If you want to know what happened the next hours and days after the quake, read the next post about the earthquake

Happy New Year 2072 from Bhimphedi!

In early April in Nepal children finish the school course. Everyone, including those studying nursary make final exams. For one week students only go to school to make the daily exam. After finishing exams, holidays!

Basu happy to be on holidays after scoring very good results in his class.

The Nepali new year begins in mid April. This year we start 2072, we celebrate it by eating chicken and and shrimp bread! And, of course, rice with lentils soup (no Nepalese is satisfied if he doesn’t eat Dalbat twice a day).

This year, all 28 children living at the Bhimphedi Children’s Home have passed the course. Everyone is very happy. Binita, one of the girls of the center, has been the first of the class (about 55 students), here they don’t care much about the marks but on the possition within the class.

Binita, in holidays, cooking “rotis”.

Ashok S. is the only kid of the center who has finished class 10 this year, so he had to do SLC (very important exams for Nepalese students). To do this test Ashok moved to Hetauda for 10 days, living in the nearest town (they can not do the exam at the same school where they study). The results of these examinations will not be made public until the end of June, so Ashok has gone to Kathmandu to start a new stage in his life, now out of the children’s home. He has to think what to study, where to work, to meet interesting people who do interesting projects in the capital, and start making friends there; so Ashok will spend his holidays doing a course in EduLift ( we will tell you how things are going for him!

Ashok (left) leaving the children’s home to do the examinations after class 10 in the nearby city.

The other children, staff and volunteers of the center, we continue our daily life in Bhimphedi. One day we went to play cricket in Hetauda with children from other children’s homes, our kids were very confident about their victory, but after an hour and a half we were already out… “They were small but they were very good playing cricket!” say the our kids! “We do not ever play cricket and they had a lot of practice; we didn’t win because we have failed to make any point “balling” (no idea what balling means) and they have made twenty” they complain. And it is true, because since some weeks ago, the only sport they practice is basketball, but that we will explain in the next post!

We are also doing the usual work at the center, we collected all the potatoes and planted corn (lot’s of them for the animals and weat, and some to make pop-corn). We have also improved the entrance to the center, cleaned the water channel, cooked roti (a type of bread shaped crepe), practiced typing, planted trees and did other projects we will explain in future posts as well.

In early May the new year begins, here between course and course students don’t have very long vacation, but they do have, instead, many festive periods; in August nearly a month of holidays for monsoon, in October another month to celebrate Dashain and Tihar (most important festivals for Hindus), and many other festivities… I will keep telling you about many of them!

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Don’t worry, Manoj only has the bottle of beer on the hand to use it to flatten the mass of the “rotis”, what a chef!


Some of the kids and staff cooking “rotis”.


This group turn: helping in the kitchen garden.


After recollecting the potatoes, it was time to plant the corn.


Holi, the Party of the Colours

Holi by Paula Minguell, Coordinator of the Health Projects of Amics del Nepal.

You can notice Holi is approaching, when the street shops are full of water guns and colour powder. During the previous days, kids would charge them with water and colours and shot anyone passing nearby. Although it wasn’t my first visit to Nepal, it was the first time I would celebrate Holi here. This festival after Dashain and Tihar it’s the thirdth most important celebration and one of the most enjoyed by people who have survived to it. So I decided it would be better to move from Kathmandu where we are working for the reopening of the Health Center that Amics del Nepal has, to Bhimphedi to enjoy the day with the kids of the Children’s Home.

Holi is a hindu celebration that settles the beginning of spring, leaving the long and cold winter behind. It is also known as the love festival, because as well as you leave winter behind, it is the moment to get rid of misunderstandings and bad feelings. The colour powders are used in honor to Vishnu, the god with a characteristical blue skin.

So I head to Bhimphedi with a big box of water balloons and powders of all colours. When we got there we found Mar, a volunteer, with a cold. “The kids have been throwing water balloons the whole day, and today was not a warm day…” she told us. And she warned us “Be prepared for tomorrow”.

Early in the morning, the kids were awake as usual but specially calmed, walking around the compound, with their hand in their pockets and angelical faces. We saw this weird behavior from the windows of the volunteer room (we are not ashamed to say we were a bit afraid) and we decided we wouldn’t go out of the building until we were well prepared with a good defense: a basket full of water balloons. That wasn’t really useful, as soon as we stepped out of the room water balloons started raining from all directions.

Once we where completely wet, we decided it was time for the colours and that’s when the real war started. The colours went from hands and water baskets to faces and clothes. Every time the recipients to throw the coloured water were bigger and bigger. Children running trying to avoid the water and balloons and colours kept flying through the air for hours. We went from green, to blue, to red and pink depending on the colour we were using at the moment. Even the staff got into the game.

And in this way we enjoyed the Holi, and also the days after as cold and paint accompanied some of us for some days. Anyway, there’s no way to be happier than listening the kids saying “Happy Holi” while they paint your face with colour powder.