Tag Archives: patan

Tihar

30 Oct

As I mentioned (in my Pokhara post), it is Tihar, the festival of lights and the Nepali new year.  Tihar, also known as Diwali, is one of the most important Hindu holidays, second only to Dasain (here in Nepal) — which was celebrated in October (remember the slaughters while trekking?  yeah, that was Dasain).  This festival starts with honoring crows (they are messengers of death), dogs (they guide souls in death), cows and then siblings.

My last night in Pokhara was beautiful — with colorful mandalas made in front of all the stores and restaurants.  As the sun set, candles were placed out front, lights were strung up on all store, bar and restaurnat fronts accompnaied by garlands of marigolds.  Kids were making their way from place to place chanting and singing.

Mandalas and the pathway for Lakshmi

The first night is when the girls are suppose to go around singing, chanting and dancing – though in Pokhara I saw both — girls going to store fronts and doing traditional dances.  But the strangest was in the middle of the street – a large group had gathered.  There was a Nepali/Hindi ballad playing and a guy, dressed in a Michael Jackson-esque style, was dancing, in a Michael Jackson-esque way.  It didn’t quite fit in…

The lights, music, chanting and singing went late into the night – groups of kids visiting every household – getting a bit of a handout at each place.

On the trip back to Kathmandu, we could tell people were getting ready for the big Deepawali (festival of lights) as there were slaughters of water buffalo, flowers out in front of their houses, paths from the mandala into the house (so Lakshmi – goddess of wealth – can know which way to go) and lights being strung up in front of the houses.  Then, back in Kathmandu – most of the store fronts were closed – but the side streets were PACKED with people buying items from street vendors.  It is kind of like the day before Christmas and all the last minute purchases!

On the Bhai Tika day, the 5th day of Tihar, siblings meet and place tikas on one another and there is a big meal with families.  We joined Lisa’s family for this — we all got a multicolored tika and sat down for a delicious meal with lots of sweets (I could not tell you what most of the food was – but there was dal and rice and curried veg and fried fish and chicken and lots of other dishes as part of it.  the sweets were a mix of Nepali and Indian sweets — all delicious – many of the fried items I have seen on the street and have wanted to try, but haven’t!).

Just like thanksgiving, the aunties were there trying to get me to eat more food!  Everyone sits around and eats a lot of food, then some more and then everyone sits around in a food coma.  Just like thanksgiving!  It was great!

Here is the Tika process:

all the ‘ingredients’ for the tikas

the grandmaster of tikas

applying the tika

the last stage – giving food and water

final tika product

Patan

8 Oct

I promise to blog about the trek soon but first I wanted to let everyone know about where we are staying in Kathmandu.  For those who don’t know, I have a good friend from college who has been living in Nepal for the past 15 years.  She lives in Patan, which is technically just outside of Kathmandu to the south.  It use to be it’s own kingdom, but now it is inside of Ring Road, which circles the outside of Kathmandu.  We are staying close to her – which has been awesome and convenient.  Great to be able to see her (for instance, we ran into her last night on our way to pizza) and she has stored our extra stuff when we are out trekking.

Today was our first day of really getting a chance to explore the city.  We have been wanting to go to Dubar Square (Dubar is the name of where the king lived – so there are Dubar Squares in Patan and Kathmandu and probably elsewhere!) for awhile, but each time we were here we were too busy getting ready for trekking.  So today was the day!  After an amazing breakfast of coffee, fresh fruit, pancakes with cream and syrup (eventually our metabolisms will slow down and that will not be a wise idea….), we found Dubar square.

It took us some time to figure it all out – but since right now is festival time (Dasain – which is Nepal’s biggest festival – meaning that most people are out visiting family and many shops are closed, restaurants that are open (which aren’t many) have limited menus, and life is pretty quiet here in the city) it was much more mellow trying to get around by foot.  Normally, it is slightly scary — bikes, motos, buses, taxis and pedestrians are all headed towards us and there is honking constantly.  Not that it was silent today, but not quite as overwhelming!!!

As with all older cities (meaning older than what we have in the US) – I am amazed with the history that you find around any given corner.  Today was no different.  Yes, we were walking in the historical part of town, but the shrines – both Buddhist and Hindu – were beautiful.

But it is pretty interesting about how Buddhism and Hinduism in this area have some shared beliefs and shared icons.

Then, we found Dubar Square and wandered around there with all the other tourists for awhile.  I checked out the museum, which had some great displays explaining the differences between the Buddhist and Hindu gods and goddesses.

Following that adventure, we headed back to our guesthouse — well after a visit to the grocery store for some peanut butter, chocolate and cookies!  As I mentioned, our metabolism is still quite high….  it is good to feed just about every two hours!  But, it won’t be long before that changes…..  though with restaurants closed it is tough to be eating out all the time.

Katherine leaves on the 13th so we are planning to head out and sight see as much as possible the next few days.  As for me…. on the 14th….. who knows….

I promise to get trekking pictures up soon — it just takes forever to load the pictures but I promise that will be next!

take care –keep the comments coming!

love – AK

Kathmandu

1 Sep

what a welcome sight to see Yogatara (my college housemate) waiting for me at the airport when I arrived this morning!  After so many years of hearing about nepal, it is good to finally be here!

She took me to the guest house where katherine and I are staying — it was great to have Katherine walk out to greet me — two of my favorite people in the world — right there to meet me on my first day in country.  Then we walked to breakfast (brunch?  lunch?) and got oriented and made a plan for the day – change some money, go get permits, take a nap, take a shower, take another nap….  🙂

Yogatara left us and went to work – we came back to our guest house and prepared ourselves to venture out alone.  we had our map and knew where we wanted to go, though we weren’t totally sure how to get back (there are no real addresses here).  Katherine suggested taking a bus — but that seemed a little overwhelming since we cannot read sanskrit and did not know where the buses were going….  so we grabbed a cab, negotiated the price and headed to the Tourisum building.  There we had to get our trekking permit and our annapurna permit.  of course you need a gazillion passport pictures (which is two more than we had) – so we have to go back tomorrow to get the rest of the permits (we need one for each trek we are doing — each costs a little over 20$).  then we will get our bus tickets and hopefully head out on our first trek on saturday — we are going to do the first half of the annapurna circuit (which has valleys and mountain passes and views of annapurna — should not suck!) .  that trek will take us about 10 days and then back here before we fly to the everest region for our second trek (3 passes).

I think, having been to india before, kathmandu is not as overhwlming as it could be….  we are not in kathmandu proper, but in Patan,  a suburub of Kathmandu.  the streets are busy and noisy and smelly — but nothing like delhi.   sure, there is a lot of honking and mopeds and bikes and people walking in the streets or on the streets or next to the streets — but there are not cows and dogs and auto-rickshaws and all the rest of the craziness of india….  this feels relatively calm.

tomorrow, our goal is to see a little more of the city — there is a walking tour that we read about in the guide book that we are going to check out.  of course, that is after we visit the tourism agency _again_ and give them lots of money!

as of right now, though, this tired girl needs to go to sleep….  it’s been a long time….

peace friends.