Submitted by Ben Ayers on Mon, 2008-12-29 08:27.
Forgive me for being a Grinch, but Nepal definitely has us beat when it comes to Holidays. The entire month of October is, more or less, consumed by two massive festivals and great debauchery. Then, the rest of the year is filled with scattered holidays and sacred weeks. If you really tried, one could find a reason to celebrate for each and every full moon, most new moons, and a good portion of the days in between.
The biggest are Dashain and Tihar, in the fall. One festival is primarily centered around ritually sacrificing animals and then eating them. The other celebrates and worships animals. Then you eat them. In the spring, there is Shivaratri (the night of Shiva) where everyone lights something on fire and smokes dope. Following that is Holi – a country-wide water fight - and these are just for the Hindus. The Buddhists have their own sacred days – the Buddhist New Year, to name one, complete with piles of fry-bread, strange dancing, and holy homebrew – as do the Muslims and the indigenous Kirat ethnic groups. The list goes on.
Yet, when it comes to the Christmas season, I still have the image of the three animated Santa Claus figures in the Bahrain airport burned into my eyes. They each played a different instrument and mechanically swayed to some terrible, endless rendition of Jingle Bells. It leads me to think about how far Christmas has come in the past 2 millennia – from the the historical birthplace of Jesus (not terribly far from the singing robots in Bahrain), across the centuries, and into someone’s one-horse open sleigh, and now settled back into the strange diorama across from the Duty Free shops. In mid-November, no less.
Nepal’s festivals have, for the most part, just stayed home. They remain focused upon the act of eating and drinking, family, and of being in the presence of those you love. They have not picked up all of the plastic and tinsel and materialism that have become the hallmark of our sacred days in America. But that which remains sacred here – family, reflection, rest – is the same. We just use more tape.
So, to my three readers – I wish for you protein, drink, laughter, and above all, love. That which feeds us all - every sacred day of the year.