Fall is coming in the states and we experiencing the nepali equivalent of that. Kathmandu has ever so slightly started to cool off. There is not a nip in the air just yet, but there is a break in the sweltering heat I’ve been used to for the past months. Additionally, that calmer, quiet vibe that comes with fall has started to arrive, but mostly because of the start of the large Nepali festival: Deshain. This means that the City of Kathmandu has essentially emptied out in only 2-3 days.
Deshain here is like Christmas back home in the states. Everyone buys presents, relatives travel from all over to get together, meals are shared, and cheer is everywhere.
But in the states, the cities are lively with holiday spirit. They are full of people, giant Christmas trees, Christmas music, parties- the even higher pulse of life.
Nepal is the opposite. Within the first days of Deshain (a 9 day festival) the city has completely emptied out. There are no parties in the streets, livelihood, decoration and holiday cheer here- instead it is a ghost town. To an American, we would have no idea that there was the biggest hindu holiday under way. But why?
All of the people have traveled home. Home is their village, where their family comes from, where generations before them lived, where their roots really are. The epicenter of life in Nepal is not the city. The city is a convenience- a collection of people for economic benefit. But nepali’s heart, nepal’s culture? It lies at home- in the village spotted countryside where these people came from, and will always feel the need to go back to.
I had what could quite possibly be classified as my favorite weekend in Nepal. The first day of deshain was a bit of a struggle since It mostly involved me being stuck in my house all day which was a bit tough. They were just playing cards betting games but at least they were around to hang out. Everyone was chilling. Usually shristy and anmol are around but having sazjun too was such a treat because he is so fun and hilarious (the most sarcastic person I know) The second day of deshain was also fun but it was intense. We got dressed, did formal tikka nd snapped about a million family photos. All of them were really cute! And then the guests started to arrive. We served at least 30 people food because whenever they came, they would get tikka and then get served daal bhaat. I was insane and busy. Schristy had to help all day and I chatted with people a little, hung with anmol some, and spent a bit of time hiding in my room to escape it all. By the time everyone was gone I was completely exhausted.
The second day was even busier than the first. We went and visited 6 family’s houses, each one serving us massive plates of daal Bhaat and giving us Tikka. This was a really fun day because we all wore saris, and it was my first experience in a sari! It was quite a long bus ride to get there. And the nepali buses are notoriously packed and without seats. I sat squished between 3 women with a random person’s baby on my lap for the entire ride. But the best part was that every single person on the bus wanted to know who I was and why in hell I was riding a bus wearing a sari with a nepali family. Completely confused. They all also felt the need to touch my blond hair and pet my sari telling me I looked great in it. I spent the day chatting with my siblings and funny enjoying every moment of my time with them. Deshain passed quickly and before I knew it I was in love with every single one of my siblings completely. I was devastated to think about how my time in Nepal is a continually clicking clock that has to end, sooner than I want.