It sometimes seems that every week there is a new reason to celebrate in Nepal with the numerous festivals that take place, infact I believe there are over 200 each year. Some festivals are only celebrated by certain caste groups, while others only take a few hours or so, meaning that life and work keeps ticking over even during festival times. Early this week was the annual teej festival celebrated by women from the Brahmin and Chetri castes. The festival takes place over 3 days, and I was fortunate to be invited to Phulbari village to celebrate with our friends. Unfortunately, for Ben being a women's festival he would've been a bit out of place. On this day all the women fasted - not eating or drinking for the entire day combined with that it was a day of non-stop singing and dancing. The two don't seem to work to well together for me! The festival is held for the good health and long life of ones husband ... and a myriad of other reasons.
Phulbari is a village about half an hour by bus from Banepa, than a steep walk up the hill. Its a beautiful place, where CDRA has been involved in building new classrooms for the local primary school. Teej was really a celebration that everyone got right into, with many women travelling back to Phulbari from their husbands homes or places of work. First off everyone got dressed up into striking red saris (well red saris for all the married women). Everyone helped each other as their is a bit of an art to putting on a sari - and I definately needed assistance! Than on goes the nail polish, make up and jewellery. All set we walked along the small village trails back to the temple area where there were about 50 women gathered. So we danced and sung, with the women singing a doori back and forth amongst them. Very impressive - this is where one group (pretending to be men) try to woo the other group, and new verses are made up on the spot.
The real highlight for me was to be able to spend time in the village, with our friends and their families. It was great to see the family come together for this cultural celebration, and to see the women enjoying a day of no work! Staying the night, conditions were very basic, but the family was so very hospitable I felt right at home.
|Women dancing outside the local village temple in Phulbari|
|The kids get right into it too|
|In our saris ready to join the party|
|Practicing our dance moves beforehand|
|Awesome view of the Himalayas in the morning|