Thursday, February 10, 2011

Festival at Saraswati Mandir

As I've noted on numerous occasions, Nepal is a country that is never short on hollidays, festivals and celebrations. Although they have a six day work week, I think it would be difficult to find a week that did not have at least one festival in it. Between holidays, pujas, birthdays, Nepali birthdays (different calender), weddings, and every random festival the days of special celebration really seem to add up. In past years you could also add all the political strikes that shut down the city from anywhere from a day to a week or more at a time. As we move into the warmer months weddings start up again and the other morning I was awakened to the sound of a band walking down the street for a wedding procession. I'm curious as to how many people can possibly be getting married on this small dead end street of mine, but I count at least 6 processions since I've been here, it may just be to/from a relatives house, so who knows.

Festival Street Band

The following morning I was awakened to music in the streets again, but this time the music persisted through the morning and seemed to be coming from just south of us. Shortly after Kim left for work she gave me a call to let me know that the source of the music was a large festival taking place at the temple down the road from us. The temple, Saraswati Mandir, is dedicated to the Hindu goddess of Knowledge, music and the arts- Saraswati. Having not seen any festivals there I figured I'd grab my camera and go take a look.

Saraswati Mandir 

Coming off of my street I immediately saw the source of the music which was a street band that was on its way toward me. It consisted of drums, flutes, and one guy might have had a cymbal. crossing over the bridge I could see that down by the temple was a large crowd of people including numerous vendors. 

Vendors near Saraswati 

Items being sold included balloons for children, various snacks and food, as well as many ceremonial items including offerings and marigold necklaces. Most of the crowd was school aged kids running the full gambit of ages from 5ish to 18 or so. Among the vendors were numerous desks set up advertising different schools in the area,and what looked like some kind of sign up forms.

Hawker Selling Peacock Feathers 

Another guy was selling peacock feathers, and I saw many people walking around with them, though I have no idea what their significance was. The line to get into the temple was roughly 150' or so long and many people in line had such feathers. While I could gather enough to understand that this festival had something to do with school and education, the details were lost to me.

Children Wrote in Chalk

Along the side of the temple the children were writing all over in chalk. For what purpose? No clue. I'd be willing to bet money it's for some kind of blessing but who knows. I watched as groups of teenagers approached and giggled while they wrote on the side of the temple and then meandered over to buy some cotton candy looking stuff. 

Another day in Nepal, another festival to try and wrap your head around.

Off Topic Note- I will be traveling to Bhutan, land of the peaceful thunder dragon, tomorrow morning and will be gone for five days. I've read conflicting reports about the viability of internet connections over there so this blog and response to comments and or e-mails may be inactive for a few days.

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