Sunday, December 9, 2007


Pokhara is a very laid back city on a lovely lake surrounded by green mountains and the snowy white Himalayas beyond. It was a great place to relax after our trip and we took a couple of days off to do just that.

It happened to be the beginning of Tihar, a very colorful 5-day Hindu festival. The first couple of days are devoted to the worship of various animals - crows are worshiped on the first day, the second day is for the dogs and cows get special treatment on the third day. People set out special food, place flower garlands around the animals' necks or paint red tikas on their foreheads for long life. There is a temple in the middle of the lake that we went to by boat, and there were many Hindus visiting it to make offerings to the birds and fish that surround it.

On the third day Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, is also worshiped, making this one of the most important days of the festival. Young people sing songs and dance from house to house giving blessings in exchange for gifts or money. This was the day we happened to leave Pokhara for Kathmandu, and we quickly discovered that the young people in the villages along the route have developed a much more profitable version of this age-old custom - these days, they drape a rope across the road and don't let your vehicle pass until you've made a requisite donation to the singing and dancing hordes! It was a very funny sight to see, but a bit frightening at times to see speeding trucks and buses play "chicken" with a bunch of money-crazed teens.

No comments: