Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nepal - Day 25 - Holi Festival

Today marked the first day of the end of my trip. No more work on the classroom would be done and all that remained was 2 days of festival and 2 days in Kathmandu.

The Holi festival was described to me simply as 'the festival of colour'. I don't know the answers to any 'why?' questions but I presume that the Nepali way would be to instead ask 'why not?'. One of the teachers, Ramu, told us that with all the public holidays in Nepal (92 public holidays a year) and all the strikes Nepalese people only work about half of the year!

In the morning I played non-stop table tennis and after a special 'festival edition' daal baht (it came with an omelet!) we wandered into town. Barely halfway into town we were covered in paint and water. Children and adults alike were running around the streets smearing paint on each others' faces and throwing water bombs. Guy and I, looking obviously foreign and unarmed, were perfect targets. It was great fun and a good taste of what was to come with the children the next day.

We walked home feeling as bright and cheery as the kaleidoscope of colour that covered us and anticipating that we would have a whole another day of fun to come. On the way back I vowed that before I left Nepal I would pet a goat. I think goats are great animals. They are great climbers, they can defend themselves, and they produce cashmere, milk and even eventually (*sob*) meat. Plus they look all gangly (something I can relate to) and have great beards (something that I envy). What other creature can boast such an array of pleasing qualities? None? Yeah, that's what I thought. Anyway, long story short is that I like goats and am willing to risk a goat-related ailment (NOTE: The height of an average goats head - and horns - aligns perfectly with my groin) for the pleasure of patting one. Soon..... soon.

After dinner Ramu and Ramesh were keen to show us the cultural dances in celebration of the holi festival. Being a male-only event the dances were predictably fueled on testosterone. The men (myself included) danced and stomped while rotating in a circular motion. most men were also hitting a plastic bottle in one hand with a stick held in the other hand. I was told that this particular dance was a celebration of Newari culture. I'm not a macho type of guy; I don't enjoy going to the gym, don't follow sports, and have little to no interest in typically manly activivies like hunting. It's not that I consciously reject these things, it's just that they tend not to arouse in me any passion. - Tonight was different. The vibe was infectious, contagious, tribal. All that mattered at that time was complete immersion in the dancing, stomping, and chanting. I could have run into battle with these men to slay a wilderbeest - I kid you not. I felt like I'd been taken into a tribe. It was a unique experience.

The rest of the evening was enjoyable but mundane in comparison to the Newari cultural dance. We went to a small Nepalese house-party (sat on the floor, ate dry noodles, drank beer) and then went home.



  1. Holi Festival is indeed one of the most festive occasion in India. That's seen on every Holi picture I see as I blog hop for holi festival. This year, I would like to send my warmest holi greetings to all and to all of my friends and loved ones. I hope you all enjoy the Holi!

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    The blogger is native of Langtang region of Nepal. My name is Pasang from Baruwa which is located in the vicinity of Panchpokhari Lake and at the lap of Dorji Lakpa within the Mahalangur Himalayan range. Most of the travelers visiting Nepal get involved in the Langtang Valley Trekking, Gosainkunda Lake Trekking, Ganjala Pass Trekking and Kyanjin Gompa Trekking as well as Helambu and Aama Yangri Baruwa Trekking in Nepal. However, there are numerous mythical wonders and cultural grandeurs to experience in this region other than just walking on the hills of Langtang.

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    Gosainkunda Lake

    This is the most popular trekking destination of Nepal and Langtang region. It is situated at the crossroads of Langtang Valley Trek and Helambu valley trekking in Nepal. It is believed that the lake is formed by the strike of Lord Shiva’s trident. According to myth demons and gods did some excavation in sea to get the elixir. While mining the elixir the poison got excavated and was about to engulf the entire universe and fortunately in order to save the universe the Lord Shiva drank all poison. He kept the poison in his neck and out of sheer pain he threw his trident on the rocks. It resulted as the source of cool mountain water forming the Gosainkunda Lake. The Lake is equally important to Buddhists and Hindus as it is believed that whoever drinks and take dip in this holy water their pain and sufferings will banish. The lake is also the source of famous Rafting River of Nepal the Trishuli River.

    Panch Pokhari

    Up in the hills there are five different beautiful lakes. The place is so holy that locals pay tributes and visit this place during August to worship lord Shiva. According to ancient myth it is believed that cattle herder once saw the Lord Shiva planting seeds of rice on the plains of the hills around lakes. As the lord heard the voice of herder and his watch dog he vanished from the site. The bulls used by Shiva later climbed downhill and turned itself into statue. The remains are still visible and one can relate the myth with all the geographical landmarks seen around the Panch Pokhari. Apart from the religious aspect the area is equally popular for the scenic beauty.

    Kyanjin Gompa and Langtang Village

    Langtang Village is situated at the lap of Langtang Lirung Mountain overlooking to more than 2 dozens of mountains from Nepal and Tibetan side. After the earthquake of 2015 and glacier outbreak the village was completely washed away. The calamity tolled heavy damage destroying almost every household schools and monasteries. However, the intrepid people and kind help from the travelers the hamlet is slowly returning to the normalcy. Kyanjin Gompa is mythica place which is about 2 hours of walking distance from Langtang Village. The Gompa is the oldest monastery of the region. Therefore, these places too can be visited in order to understand the intrepidity of people as well for the mystical experience.

    Aama Yangri

    This is the holiest place for the Buddhists followers. Most of the people of this region are Lama and exercise various Tibetan influenced festivals. The place becomes vibrant during the local festival the followers climb the holy Mt. Ama Yangri before the day break. Once they are on the summit of the mountain they offer prayer to the first morning sunray. The festival is observed during months of March or April. The prayers are offered basking in the sun and relishing the local barley beer (Chhyang/Nigar), butter tea and Local wine. Apart from these religious significance the place is the vantage point for the scenery of splendid mountains as far as Manaslu and Everest.