Going East: Festivals

Sophie Lawson 2 September 2014

The Hindu calendar is full of festivals to celebrate various gods, pray for good health, bring blessing and say thanks, which is why we were honored to have the opportunity to experience the Nepali festival of Teacher's day.  Falling on a Saturday this year, it captured most of the classic features: food, singing, dancing and gifts. We came into school in the morning for a day of activities organised by the kids. 

Everyone was out of uniform and in their best and brightest clothes. The first part was mostly long speeches by the teachers (these bored even the most attentive kids). This was followed by singing and dancing performances which the children had practised especially for the day. It descended into mayhem when we were called up to attempt the traditional Nepali dance, and all the kids ran up onto the stage to get involved. Two other volunteers, George and Joe, got big cheers for their lasso routine, and everybody copied them. 

Once everyone had calmed down, all the teachers sat in a line while the kids came round to give us flowers and tikas (spots of blessing on the forehead) with red dye. With all the excess enthusiasm, the dye inevitably ended up all over our faces – my hairline is still tinged pink!

Next, we were given an incredible amount of food: curries, breads, samosas, sweets, fruit, cake, lassi, more samosas, more curry – the refills kept coming! It was a lot of fun and everyone was in high spirits by the end of the day, giving thanks and taking pictures. 

George and I got the bus to the home, but were first we were invited to one of the teacher’s houses for a cup of tea. The house was a wonderful thing to see; it was basic, but nice, clean and full of pictures and decorations, with a small farm and a couple of goat out back. 

Many Nepali festivals involve fasting, but luckily Teachers’ Day features plenty of food instead. The expression of thanks and happiness through dancing and singing is particularly great because everyone gets involved; it brings people together and eases their self-consciousness.