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Dasain 4: It’s Not All Blood and Guts

October 13, 2011

in Nepal

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Blessing machines and vehicles for Dasain

While Nepal is infamous for its archaic rituals in the modern day, not everyone engages in such slaughter. Fortunately for animals and for society, many people now consider the excessive bloodshed of Dasain unnecessary. Instead of killing an animal, they will crack a coconut or an egg as the ritual offering for such ceremonies. In 24 hours, the price of a nice, big duck egg went from 32-cents to $1.00 to $2.50 as they became scarcer and scarcer. How’s that for inflation?

In a quiet courtyard (center of traditional housing arrangements in old Kathmandu), I find a much more appealing celebration of Dasain. A family is blessing vehicles from motorcycles down to the children’s bikes with flowers, incense, oil lamps, colored powder, and eggs. They’ve got music playing, and the whole scene is infused with a different feel. It’s also classic Nepal that these people invite me into their home for tea and become my new friends. If I didn’t have a morning meeting, I certainly would have stayed for the lavish meal to follow.

Video: Blessing The Vehicles

Video: Sacrificing An Egg

Bloodthirsty as Kali may be, Dasain also encompasses other more enjoyable traditions. Flying kites and swinging on swings aren’t year-round activities in Nepal. They happen only at Dasain. Everyone also receives gifts of new clothes. For poorer people, these may be the only new clothes they get all year.

Less appealing, though clearly quite enjoyable for the populace…. Gambling is rampant, from giant dice games on the street to cards and liquor in back rooms. Generally, Dasain is a 10-day vacation. Some people, particularly in government-funded offices or schools, will stay gone for the following 2 weeks and continue their vacation into the official week-long holiday of Tihar, Nepal’s second-biggest Hindu festival. Yes, that’s a month off.

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