Category Archives: Nepali Culture

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!



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.
gai jatra 05
Prachande, the funny character of Gai Jatra, who throws water dirty of cow poop to any fool who dares to come near him.
gai jatra 1
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…

New recipe: Homemade Pasty

Written by Isabel Valero, Bhimphedi Children Home volunteer

The big ones are the first to begin the exams in less than one week. To study it takes a lot of energy, so we came to mind to make a special meal. We know that children love eating, and if it is the food that they have cooked, better!

So, on Wednesday was holiday because of the Sherpa New Year Eve, and to make the most of the day we proposed the smallest to cook for everyone! One of the kids, Som, had cooked a very good pie for volunteers, and we encourage them to repeat the experience this time for all the children and staff.

A second after the proposal, children were already discussing which specialty prepare and telling us what ingredients we should buy.

So Dani and me with the two most excited children (Som and Santa) went to buy the ingredients that we hadn’t in the shelter:

  • 3kg of meat
  • 5kg flour
  • 2kg cabbage
  • 1 kg of eggplant

We called this dish as “homemade pasty” as Balmandir style.

Here you have the video explaining step by step the procedure:

Mix the flour with water and salt; and mix them together.

When they were preparing the dough they came to mind that they could accompanied the pasty with a tasty tomato sauce! So we had to return to the shop to buy three kilos of tomatoes.

1. Mix the flour with water and salt; and mix them together.
2. Cut the vegetables
3. Mix the vegetables and meat
4. Flatten the dough aut the filling inside the pasty.
5. Fry the pasty and remove when it get toast

Chopped tomatoes, a little cabbage, spices, chicken bones; all cooked in the fire to make a delicious sauce. And at two o’clock in the afternoon it was all ready to serve and eat!


And after the meal, and again have energy to study for exams; come on! making the last effort of the year!

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…

blog 2
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