Saturday, 20 October 2007
High as a kite
This weekend sees the Hindu festival of Dashain reaching a peak and the slaughter of goats assuming biblical proportion. This is the highlight of the Hindu year and normally comes at the end of the monsoon and of the harvest, although (no doubt thanks to global climate change) the harvest is a month overdue this year. Aside from its religious significance, Dashain is a time for family reunions and general merry-making. Many of our refuge children are reunited with family members just for the festival, the bare minimum in maintaining those family connections that are all important in Nepal. We buy the children new clothes for the homecoming, this being a custom and the girls especially love to show off their finery. Other children have nowhere really to go to and for them we organised a camp in the hills above Godawari. Arguably they'll have enjoyed a much nicer time than some of those who went back to families.
There are a couple of other Dashain customs that I have come to enjoy. One is the flying of kites, the sight of which I will forever associate with our first arriving to live in Nepal exactly three years ago. The second is the use of large, rather rickety-looking, swings made out of bamboo poles. Children rise to quite frightening heights on these structures that are known as "pings" and their use is not just an act of fun. As per the kite activity, the ping journey symbolises leaving earth and taking one's thoughts onto a higher, more spiritual, plane.
Our Kathmandu refuge children have constructed a ping in the open ground outside the children's accommodation block and this is shown on the right.