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Festival Time! and Family As A Work Of Art
Tihar festival in Nepal (called Diwali in India) resembles American Christmas season, New Year’s eve, and Fourth of July all rolled into one. It features a love, respect, and gratitude for many aspects and elements of Nepali life.
Lead time in and a straggling finale time out of Tihar, as well as the Dashain Festival that comes immediately before it, combine with Tihar festival week itself to produce nearly a month of celebration!
There is a constant barrage of fireworks. The folks here call them firecrackers but noise from the explosions sound more like American M-80s. Even at the relatively quiet Pema Boutique Hotel the explosions from the street can be heard.
The main focus of Tihar is dedication and appreciation. There is one day honoring dogs and crows and another honoring cows. Several other days honor various important characters in and facets of Nepali life. Peak day honors brothers and sisters that come from the same parents.
I have to say “from the same parents” to clarify that this sacred festival’s celebration of siblings is more intense than the already intense feeling of family that exists between all Nepali people. There are distinctions of socio-economic class and status here, but they don’t seem to interfere with the familial camaraderie that is so much a part of this nation. The most respected member of any community might not hang out with the lowest caste person, but he would refer to him or her as brother or sister. The most powerful person in town calls his waitress bai ni (younger sister) and his cab driver bai (younger brother). If that same powerful person is younger than the person they are addressing, then dai (older brother) and didi (older sister) are the terms used. But the Tihar ceremony itself doesn’t traditionally range that far. Its most sacred day involves children of the same parents.
Appreciation is shown by way of Tikas, special attention, food, gifts, and flower garlands. A Tika is that mark placed in the middle of the forehead where the third eye resides. It can be more decorative than the usual simple dot. In the ceremonial Tihar holiday process, it signifies a commitment by the person administering the Tika to care for and protect what or whomever receives it. Whether you put one on your dog, cow, sister, or brother, the process swears your allegiance to them. It is a very touching experience to see a large population of dogs, cows, and humans wandering city streets en masse with third eye markings on their foreheads and brilliant orange flower garlands around their necks — knowing that each Tika mark and flower signifies a commitment of love, respect, and protection for the living creature that wears it.
Nearly all businesses are closed on this day. Many close for a full week or even the entire month of festival time. Folks here work very hard and are usually efficient at whatever they do for a living. When party time comes, they do just as good a job of it.
Most of my friends are very tame party animals — but they still know how to have fun. Some of them don’t smoke or drink at all. This is true of my friends Tenzing and Dolma.
Dolma escaped from Chinese government oppression in Tibet at the age of eight. She became a talented ER nurse but recently retired to care for her baby.
Her husband Tenzing Tenzingartist@gmail.com is an internationally known Thangka (religious iconic painting) artist, originally from the high-altitude Nepali region of Dolpa. His work has been commissioned by people around the world and featured in TV interviews internationally.
This couple has a four-month-old baby that has to be one of luckiest children on Earth. Little Tenzing is constantly being smiled at, cuddled, and loved. This family lives in near-constant happiness. Their festival extends throughout the whole year.
I hope yours does too.
About the Author
Doug Ten Rose has hitchhiked around America for 40 years, encountering:
- Tibetan Lamas
- Native American wise people
- Rock stars
- An all-lesbian rock band playing a concert for the deaf
- The modern day Robin Hood
- And a whole lot more…
These and many other amazing characters are described in Fearless Puppy on American Road.
“Ten” was also rescued and adopted by a temple full of Monks and Nuns in Southeast Asia. He stayed there for a half-year, although not studying Buddhism (certainly not in any conventional sense!).
Read more about that in his second offering: Reincarnation Through Common Sense.
What else is there to say?
Well, a lot.
Here’s a snippet so you can dip your toes in the water — it’s from the foreword of Fearless Puppy:
“Why would a 15 year old boy with a New York City native’s knowledge of transportation systems shun both public and private transport and opt to spend the next 35 years hitchhiking throughout North America?
Why would anyone bypass the relative ease and safety of bus, train, or a car of his own and open himself to all manner of possible disaster by braving the whims of fate and the moods of passersby? I’ll tell you why.
I have attended 8 different colleges and universities.
I’ve learned more in other people’s cars.”
INTERVIEWS & PODCASTS
Many thanks to our wonderful friends at Pema Boutique Hotel for their help and support.
The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through Amazon or the Fearless Puppy website, where there are sample chapters from those books. Entertaining TV/radio interviews with and newspaper articles about the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not limited to Buddhist monks and nuns.
If you missed the Introduction to the new book or would like to see several chapters of it that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section. This is a book in progress. You will be reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story — and probably the only book ever written by and about a corpse journeying completely around the world!