Saturday, 17 October 2009

Happy Tihar!

Hi all,

As I think I told you in the last post, this weekend is Divali - otherwise known as Tihar in Nepal - so we've been out and about watching the celebrations. It was also the Newari New Year yesterday. The Newars are one of the many ethnic groups in Nepal, and are mainly found in the Kathmandu valley, and they have a New Year which is different from the Nepali New Year (which is generally some time in March or April), and also different from our New Year. So in Nepali New Year terms the year is 2066 (I think), in Newari terms the year is 1130 (I think) and of course, we in the West are in 2009.

So as well as being Laxmi Puja yesterday - the day when you welcome the goddess Laxmi (goddess of wealth) into your home - it was also Newari New Year and there was a procession in the street of various people in Newari dress accompanied by little bands of musicians. All the businesses had also cleaned their premises and decorated them with Marigolds and made decorations on the street outside to lead the goddess inside and give them wealth and good luck. So we had a good time watching everything that was going on.

Today we've been to Boudnath - the big stupa just outside Kathmandu where there's a big Tibetan community. The Nepalis are relatively OK about the Tibetans who've been here for a long time, but they tend to hand any new ones who escape from Tibet back to the Chinese. I think it's difficult for Nepal as they are sandwiched between China and India and have to try and keep in with both sides. Some political parties lean towards India, whereas others - the Maoists in particular - lean towards China. And of course, because China is so powerful these days everyone signs up to their One China policy even though this means that minority ethnic groups are repressed. I guess I would never have made a good diplomat, even had I wanted to be one, as I've never believed in bowing to the will of someone else just because they happen to be more powerful than me. But then again, I've never had to. Anyway, I'm biased - I do like Tibetans and I'm not particularly keen on the Chinese (with some exceptions of course).

Well, tomorrow we go for Bhai Tika at our brother's, and then it's off to Nagarkot for a few days. Pictures will appear on this post at some point, but at the moment I'm not having any success doing it, so I'm afraid you'll just have to wait.

Take care of yourselves,

Vivienne xx

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