Festival season has come and gone and now the cold of winter is setting in! In August, the girls and female staff celebrated Teej – where the day was spent dancing, eating and dancing! In late September, Dashain festival started – a two week holiday that celebrates family and community – where families and relatives come together, usually travelling to their home villages to receive tika blessing from their elders. It is the longest and most anticipated holiday in Nepal. To celebrate, Umbrella’s Youth Chautri put together an amazing ‘Dashain Program’ in which many of the children performed dances, songs, gave speeches and even a comedy performance from Nabin Sir! We were delighted that 70 out of 74 children in our homes were able to travel home to spend this time with families, relatives and communities.
For the children that, could not go anywhere – we organised a short trip away to make it a special occasion for them too. Our destination was Chitwan national park, famed for its diverse wildlife.
The children loved swimming in the river, spotting crocodiles, baby rhinos and elephants, getting to be a part of cultural programs and going on jungle walks.
It was a really wonderful and memorable trip for both the children and volunteers!
Back in Kathmandu, we had picnics, learnt to swim, went to the zoo and went rock climbing. As the other children returned from their villages, we heard plenty of fun stories of great times spent with their families.
Tihar, also known as Diwali or the Festival of Lights, took place in late October over the course of 5 days. On each day a different animal is celebrated but the two main days are Laxmi Puja and Bahi Tika. On Laxmi Puja, the children cleaned the houses top to bottom and decorate a mud trail into the house with flowers and candles to attract the goddess Laxmi to bestow wealth on their household.
In the evening, the children went singing from house to house and were given gifts of money and chocolate! On bahi tika, brothers and sister give eachother gifts and blessings. For the boys in Umbrella who had no family to celebrate with, the volunteers organised a small ceremony at Umbrella instead! With the festivals now over, the children and youths are back to school and college and gearing up for winter exams in December.