Friday, March 07, 2008

Shivaratri

This week Nepalis and all Hindus celebrated Shivaratri or Shiva's Night. Like most holidays Shivaratri has its sacred and secular components.

The Sam's House gang celebrated one of the secular elements--the roasting of sugar cane. Towards nightfall, all over Pokhara, you'll see young people walking around with tall sticks of sugar cane. These are roasted in a bonfire where the heat builds up pressure inside the cane. Children then smack the canes on the ground and they make a firecracker-like pop. The cane is moist and soft and the children eat that with some rice.

Away from Sam's House, Shivaratri tends to be a night with Halloween-like pranks and misbehavior. It is one of two days annually when it is legal to smoke marijuana, since the Lord Shiva was reputed to use this substance from time to time and is considered to be the deity of dissolution and destruction. None of these antics, however, made their way into the Sam's House celebration, thanks to our bonfire warding away evil spirits.


Ama Gurung performs a short puja (worship) before lighting the fire.


Ama Gurung and Rekha preparing to light the fire.


The bonfire.


Children playing with sugar cane.


The prime minister digs in.


Mamata, Maya and Mina.


Sarita after the bonfire with a large amount of soot on her face.


Suraj after the fact.


Snacks after the ceremony.

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