Tag Archives: nepali culture

A Japanese tourist with Indian wife

Has anyone ever mistaken your country of origin. It happens with me and my husband(yes A and I got married in Feb :D) all the time.

I am usually mistaken for an Indian which does not make me so happy because I want to be identified as a Nepali. On the other hand A is identified as a citizen of whichever country he visits. For example, here in Thailand, everyone says he looks like a Thai. As A knows a bit of Thai language, people always think he is Thai. Last year, we went to Cambodia and they thought A was Cambodian. A says when he went to Malaysia, he was mistaken for a Malay and the same thing happened in China, Singapore and other surrounding Asian countries.

But the strangest thing is we didn’t think we would be mistaken for our country of origin in our own motherland, Nepal. After our week long wedding, A and I went to visit different temples in Kathmandu. As A is from Patan area, he took me to all the temples near Patan Durbar Square. One of the most famous and beautiful temple in Patan Durbar Square is Krishna Mandir. I know this is ridiculous, but I had never been inside Krishna Mandir before so A really wanted to take me inside the temple for a darshan. So, we were walking around Patan Durbar Square taking pictures and visiting temples. As we approached near Krishna Mandir, A took several pictures of me outside the temple and after that we climbed up the stairs to enter the main temple where there is a century old statue of Lord Krishna. In Kathmandu, many hindu temples does not allow non-hindus to enter the temple. So, when A climbed up the stairs, the pujari at Krishna Mandir stopped A saying Japanese are not allowed inside the temple! Hearing this both A and I burst into laughter. Then he talked to the pujari in Newari saying, “I am Nepali and I have spent my childhood roaming around this temple”, which clearly astonished him and he was a little embarrassed too. After this the pujari said,”I thought you were a Japanese tourist with an Indian wife!”

Krishna Mandir at Patan

Krishna Mandir at Patan

So, this was our story at the Krishna Mandir. Has anything similar happened to you guys as well? I would love to hear such stories.

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Meeting A’s Parents

This post has been long due and I almost forgot that I mentioned I would write about my experience of meeting A’s parents here.

We went to Nepal during August of 2012 to inform our parents that we want to get married and get their blessings to fix a date. I was a little nervous about meeting A’s Mom and Dad. My family and his family are totally different and my relationship with my parents and his relationship with his parents are different too. A’s relationship with his parents are a little formal and they barely talk about day to day activities. They talk about important family matters and discuss about big family decisions. But the story of me and my family is totally different. We share almost everything, I talk to my parents on a daily basis over Skype, except during weekends and we talk for long hours. If there is any day I’m unable to Skype, the next day my mom will say, “I feel like its been a lot of days since we’ve talked, isn’t it?”. The topic of conversation is usually food-what did you eat for lunch/dinner and so on and how was your day? Its also because my mom stays at home and she misses us a lot. Her life has always been about me and my brother, daily household chores and religion and spirituality. So when she asks me to come over Skype every single day, I cannot say no too and it does get difficult/frustrating at times but it makes her happy :).

Attendees from my side:
Mom, Bua(Dad), my cousin brother and me
Attendees from A’s side:
A’s Mom, A’s Dad, A’s Grandmom, A’s elder sister her husband and her kid
Venue: A restaurant in K City

So, lets get back to the topic. My Bua is very talkative and likes to talk but A’s Dad talks less. My mom and A’s mom are similar in terms of their talking habits, they say whatever they feel :). So when we got to the restaurant, I was a little nervous in the beginning. As soon as we sat down, A’s Grandmom asked him to give me the flower bouquet that A had brought. A’s niece had also planned to give me a hand made congratulations card but she forgot to bring it. After that, we found a good private place to sit. A and I were given the job to order food. After the initial introduction, we looked at the menu and started to order. Then my Bua started the conversation. They generally talked about the wedding date(which was already calculated by a family priest of A’s family), supari day and the reception day. As Bua is not shy to talk, he was constantly speaking and A’s Dad was smiling and nodding with occasional laugh. It was a long table and I was at the other end of the table. All I could hear was Bua’s voice and A’s Dad’s laugh. In the meantime, A’s Grandmom and Mom were very sweet and talking to me and my Mom. Their discussion was generally about how we met and what were our future plans, they were constantly asking us about our plan to come back and live in Nepal. A’s sister was also taking part in the conversation and all of them very nice to me. My initial nervousness had settled by this time and we were merrily taking pictures and enjoying food. I was especially glad because Bua included me and asked me before fixing any date or deciding upon the ceremonies, it made me feel special and equally respected(usually this doesn’t happen in a tradition Nepali family but times are changing for good now). At the end of the meeting, both parties were happy and A’s Grandmom, Mom and sister took pictures with me. After that all of us took a group picture and we returned back home.

I can’t believe it was 4 months back, it feels like yesterday :). In 2 month A and I will be married. It all feels like a dream, how we met and now we are getting married :). I am looking forward to spending my life with A but I’m a little nervous about the wedding too.

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Tihar

As I have mentioned in my earlier posts Dashain is the most important festival for Nepalese, the second most important festival for us is Tihar or Deepawali. While Dashain is all about Goat meat food wise, Tihar is about home made Nepali sweet dishes such a Sell Roti, Anarasha, Fini, Malpua and so on.

Tihar is a five day extravaganza with each day holding some religious significance. Tihar starts with “Kaag Puja” worshipping the crow. Crow is considered as the messenger of hindu God Yamaraj. On Kaag tihar, we offer food and puja to crow on a plate made of leaves which is called tapari. This tapari is usually put on the terrace so that the crow will be able to eat the food offered to it.

Kaag Puja

The second day is “Kukur Puja”, worshipping the Dog as an avatar of hindu God Bhairab and as Yamaraj’s gate keeper. On this day we offer puja and good food for the dog in our house and if we do not have a dog we offer puja to stray dogs.

A has this picture as his gtalk image right now 🙂

The third day is the most significant day and we offer puja to hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi. This day is also called as Deepawali or Laxmi Puja. On this day, we clean our house and decorate it with marigold flowers to welcome the “goddess of wealth” in our house and bless us with prosperity throughout the year. Laxmi puja is my favourite day. On this day I make rangoli, “laxmi ko paila”(footsteps of goddess Laxmi), and light “diyo”(oil lamps) all over the house. After this we perform puja and eat sweets.

This years’ puja in my room 🙂

The fourth day is “Goverdhan Puja” for Bahuns and Chettris and Mha puja for Newars. Goverdhan puja is done by making a small heap of cow dung and offering puja to it. Goverdhan literally translates to Gover=cow dung and dhan=wealth, which means cow dung is equivalent to wealth as it makes the soil fertile. This is basically to show respect to the cattles who give us milk, plough our land and make our land fertile. Even though my Mom is a Newar, I don’t know much about Mha puja other than the fact that is a puja of the self done to purify and respect god within us.

The final day is Bhai Tika, which is today. In Nepali bhai means brother so it can be called brother’s day. On this day we perform puja on our brothers and pray for their long life. This is also my favourite day since my brother spoils me with gifts on this day. Its been three years since I celebrated Bhai tika with my brother, so I’m missing him a lot today :(.

This is a brief description of 5 days of Tihar. In my next post, I will talk about my this years’ Laxmi Puja in detail.

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Dashain is around the corner

Dashain is the biggest festival in Nepal. It holds a special place in our hearts. I once quit a job just to be home for Dashain. So, you can guess that Dashain is a big deal in Nepal. This festival holds a special significance. It signifies unity, defeat of good over evil, respect towards our elders, lots of food, new clothes, a big family event and long holidays. When I was in school, we had a full months holiday during Dashain, ahhhh those blissful days.

Dashain is a 15 day event and Ghatasthapana marks the beginning of Dashain or start of Navaratri. After 7 days of Ghatasthapana starts an array of a week long festivities with each day holding some religious significance. The first sign that Dashain is around the corner is the weather. In Kathmandu, the weather is just perfect during Dashain, it is the end of summer and its cool and pleasant. All us of can relate to the special bright sunshine and how the sun is warm with cool breeze during Dashain, this kind of sunshine is called “pareelo gham” in Nepali. But staying far away from home, the clues of Dashain are status updates in Facebook and fellow bloggers writing about the festival, which is not bad either :).

When my grandfather and grandmother still lived in the village, we all would go to the village to get blessings from them on the final day of Dashain, which is called Tika. There are a lot of things about Dashain and I can go on and on talking about my fondness for it. But today I will focus on how my childhood Dashain used to be, when we went back to the place Bua(dad) was born and when I was about 6 or 7 years old.

The place my Bua was born is Bhorle, Dhading. It is not so far from the capital city but it didn’t mean it was easy to get there. Going to Bhorle used to be an adventurous trip for us. I think Mom and Bua had discussions whether or not we should go to Bhorle this year. To go to Bhorle, we had to take a bus from Kathmandu and get down at Adamghat, which took around 3-4 hours during those days. After getting down at Adamghat was a steep trek of about 8-9 hours!! My dad was born somewhere in the remote hills of Dhading district and until few years back there was no means of transportation that would take us there. The only option was either to walk or be carried on a Nepali basket made of bamboo called “Doko”. So Mom and Bua had a hard time deciding whether or not to take the kids to Bhorle for Dashain(which of course I found out later from mom). I have faint memories of my Bhorle trek. We have the pictures at home, which reminds me of Dashain in Bhorle. My Mom looks extremely pretty in her red sari and red pote(necklace for married women in Nepal). Trip to Bhorle used to be a lot of fun for us kids. Me, my brother, my uncles and cousins had our little gang. Our uncles were the guide and leaders as they had travelled the trail quite often and were experienced. So me and my brother had a lot of fun as city kids going to the village. We used to be amazed by the nature, the insects we saw on the way and the cows, buffaloes, goats, hens we saw in the village and if we were lucky we could sight deers and how our uncles always warned us of Jackals or “Bwasoo”. We also got to enjoy the wild berries and wild fruits on the way to Bhorle. Everyone would take special care of us since we were small kids and from the city :). I can recall that everywhere we rested, we were offered with “Mahi”(homemade yoghurt smoothy?) and “bhuteko makai”(roasted corn kernels). And we had someone my Bua or Hajurbuwa(grandfather) knew on the way top and they would make remarks like, “Ohh so you are the son of so and so and the grandson of so and so”. And when we would be too tired after few hours of walk, there would be potters and sometimes our relatives or uncles who would carry us in Doko. The way to Bhorle used to be beautiful with green trees, far away view of himalayas, open grasslands and the endless hills. I wonder how it is now. And since it was Dashain, there were Bamboo swings at every small village we passed and it was a lot of fun to play in those swings. But we could never match up with the village kids who played wild and looked like they had far more fun than us.

Photo Credit-http://www.nepal-pictures.com: A swing similar to the numerous swings or “Ping” that we encountered on our way to Bhorle.

So Bua always made remarks to us saying how we were the broiler chicken and the village kids were the local chicken. After crossing every hill, we used to ask our uncles how much farther it is and they used to show us a nearest hill and say behind that big hill is our home or “Tyo dada ko pachadi hamro ghar cha” but once we crossed that hill they used to again point us to another nearest hill and say the same thing!! I do not precisely remember other details from the trip and how we finally reached home. The next thing I remember is the tika day or the day when the elders in the family put tika on foreheads of youngers as a blessing. For the boys it was all about goat meat; which part of goat they wanted to eat and flying kites. For girls it was about the money they were going to earn after tika which is called dakshina and new clothes they were going to wear on tika day. I think during those days we got 25 paisa, 50 paisa as dakshina. I have a colourful picture that we took at Bhorle after tika which is in Kathmandu and too bad I cannot post it right now.

So this was Dashain all about when I was a little kid, one of my first memories of Dashain. Today Dashain is still about going back home, being together with mom and Bua and receiving tika from them. It makes me a little sad that I cannot be home for Dashain this year too. So, my wish for Dashain this year is may my Mom and Bua have a wonderful health, may goddess Durga bless my home and make it harmonious, may Mom and Bua be happy and healthy all year around and may I be able to serve my parents in every possible way. Happy Dashain Mommy and Bua. I am sad that I cannot be home to share Bua’s enthusiasm of goat meat and Mom’s excitement of navaratri puja. But I will definitely Skype and receive blessings over the internet!!

And Happy Dashain in advance to my readers as well!
P.S: Ghatasthapa falls on 16th October this year and Tika falls on 24th October.

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In anticipation of meeting the parents!

Hello August!!

Finally August is here, the month I’ve waited eagerly since the day we confirmed going back to Nepal to visit family. Unlike any other visit to home, this one is special. This August, I will be taking a big step forward in life, meeting A’s parents.

A and I have been together since October last year. We didn’t quite follow the traditional relationship route. Instead, we fell in love in an awkward situation, hesitated a little in the beginning but then love spreads like fragrance and before we could figure out what was going on, we were already in a relationship. In November of the same year, we both went back home. During that time, A met my parents. My mom was very happy to meet A and more than that she was relieved I was in a serious relationship, Nepali moms!! Bua was not so confident about the decision I had made so fast. He looked at A with skepticism and didn’t talk with him that well too(poor A!). After we came back to Bangkok, I was poured with lots of question like, Where is A’s home in Kathmandu? What is his father’s name? How old is he?(:P) Did he have any girlfriends in the past, I thought you mentioned about him before? Ohh, I was so embarrassed of my parents at that time, but I had to answer them. After I had successfully(really?), satisfied them with my answers. The next question was, when are you both planning to get married? We had officially been in a relationship for only two months and the big question was already there!! I did feel a little pressured at this point but luckily A and I both knew, if we go ahead with this relationship marriage would be there in the cards. Sometimes A would hear me answering my mom regarding marriage, I would tell her, “Mummy, we would definitely get married but we don’t know when, we haven’t discussed!!”. One day, after one of my conversations with mom and Bua, I casually asked A, when do you think we will get married? I needed an answer so that I could give some definite timeline to my parents and they would stop worrying. I think A too felt some pressure when I asked him this. At this point, he said, honey we would get married eventually but even I don’t know when, we’ve just been in a relationship. This answer made me blush with embarrassment, but quickly A sensed my embarrassment and answered, this year would be too early since we need to plan for leave, save some money and I have to inform my parents too but I think it would definitely be next year. I finally had some answer to satisfy my parents.

So, in the same month, A and I were walking around in a shopping mall when we saw a jewelry store with big advertisement, discount on rings! That day, A bought a ring and said, I will give you this ring when we go back to Nepal next time and we will get engaged in front of our parents. I was so happy that day, of course the ring was beautiful :), but the happiness was mainly because of how confident we were about each other and although it would look like we were rushing in, we were completely at ease with each other and we were clear that we wanted to be together, forever. And rest is all history (I will talk about the proposal some other day).

So, the day has finally arrived, we will officially declare our engagement to our parents. I have watched a lot of movies, read a lot of books that talk about the importance of “the proposal”, but in the east, in my side of the world; you know you are in a serious relationship when the guy tells his parents about the girl. So, meeting the parents in the east is equivalent to the marriage proposal in west. This time when we go home, there will be a big event; parents of both sides will meet each other and it will be a beginning of the union of two families. Wedding and marriage is a family affair in Nepal, it is never only about the guy and the girl. It is about the guys’ family and the girls’ family. I will be meeting A’s parents for the first time, I am a little nervous about it, but I am happy as well.

Tomorrow, we will board a flight to Delhi, shop for two days in Delhi and go back to Kathmandu on 5th. In August, I will write more about my saree shopping experience in Delhi, meeting the parents experience in Kathmandu and lots of other stuffs. So stay tuned and wish me luck!!

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Being Vegetarian(for a day!)

Early this month, I decided to be vegetarian for every Tuesday of July and eat only fruits, vegetables and dairy on Tuesdays. This was to eat more veggies and avoid non-veg items once a week. Although I love the idea of being vegetarian everyday of my life, but eating meat is something that is very hard for me to give up. For us Nepalese, eating meat is some kind of reward and signifies festivities. In Nepal, we have  15 days of the month of October dedicated just for eating all kinds of meat and merry making.

While in Nepal, we eat almost everyday at home. The concept of eating out is very new and mostly it is a luxury. Unlike in Thailand, most people eat outside and seldom cook due to easy availability of everyday food in reasonable prices. So, working in Thailand, my lunch is always at the office canteen. For dinner, some days I cook and other days we eat instant noodles or “Kao Mann Kai” or order pizza. I love food and I am very close to Nepali food. I enjoy trying out different cuisines as well. I have tried and loved Japanese, Korean, Italian, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese food to name a few. But, I cannot eat foreign food for 7 days a week. This is why I make it a point to cook 2-3 times a week. In Nepal, we usually eat vegetable curries with rice and lentil soup for lunch. For dinner, we eat “Roti” (flat rolled whole wheat bread) with curried vegetables. Our everyday food does not have much meat but since my family is a big fan of eating meat, we have 3-4 days of non-veg meals in a week. But, Thailand is different, here almost all the meals contains some kind of meat. So, whether its lunch or dinner or in betweens, there is meat. So, to avoid eating one or other kind of meat for every meal, I decided to have at least one day in a week dedicated to fruits and vegetables only.

This post will be about my Tuesday experience. Yesterday was Tuesday, I started my day with a cup of plain yoghurt and an apple. A had warned me to eat good breakfast in advance so that I wouldn’t be bugging him with “I’m hungry A, I feel like eating fried Chicken” comments the whole day. The day was going fine and normal as usual. Specifically on my veggie day, I feel hungry a little earlier than usual. I don’t know if this is because of the psychological effect or its actually because of the vegetables and fruits only diet. So, I asked A to go for lunch at 11.30 am instead of going at noon. My options for lunch were fruits, fruits and fruits :). So I had already imagined the fruits I was going to eat for lunch, I love Guava and it is more tasty here in Thailand, the pineapples are juicy and sweet, papaya is sweeter than anywhere I’ve been and all the variety of exotic tropical fruits are just yummmm… as I walked towards the fruit stall, I noticed that it was more crowded than other days. As I reached there, I saw there was no Guava today :(, pineapple was not ripe 😦 and there was no papaya :(, but thankfully there was water melon, but water melon was not going to be enough for lunch. I bought a slice of water melon and some rose apples.

Then A went to his new favorite food stall and ordered “Fried rice with crispy Chicken”, at this point I was so tempted by his order that I almost gave up my vegetarianism, but I reminded myself “R, there is something called self control!!”. So, I breathed in and breathed out reminding myself the fruits are way tastier and heather than normal fried rice with chicken, but in my mind I knew what I was going to eat for lunch tomorrow :P. So, as I munched my rose apples and water melons, A ate his fried rice savoring each spoonful of rice and chicken, which didn’t make me jealous at all and for God’s sake I was not drooling (if thats what you are imagining :P) it just made me wish for tomorrow to come sooner :). After A finished his lunch, I asked him to go to the store with me to buy some milk and organic brown rice crackers(its as good as veggies) and we went to the store and bought some flavored milk and crackers and to my delight, the lunch time was over. So, I started doing my daily chores at office but those snacks didn’t stop staring at me. It kept on distracting me. It felt as if it were holding a big imaginary board saying “EAT ME”. I totally ignored their desperate plea(or was it mine?) to eat them until 3pm when I couldn’t say no to them anymore and opened the bag of crackers :), it was yummier than usual. As the clock was nearing 5 pm, I was contemplating my dinner plans but the only option I had in mind was a plate of green salad with a cup of yoghurt as a dressing. I love to munch on green salad and I simply love yoghurt, I couldn’t help thinking why am I acting weird towards food, at that time I felt like a small kid looking forward to treats. Yesterday, I reached home at around 5.30, A had gone to play tennis and since it was my veggie day, he said he’ll eat out with friends. So, I was alone for the evening with my plate of salad and my cup of yoghurt. I had nothing but them for the evening so I wanted to plan my meal wisely. As I reached home, I took a long hot bath, after which I drank a lot of water. Then talked to my mom over Skype. Unlike other days, she was commenting that I don’t look like I have gained weight at all (the other day, I had mentioned that I gained  3 kgs). So she kept repeating, you don’t need to diet hai chori(daughter), you look good already. I was annoyed by her comments but I assured her I wasn’t dieting and I really was not dieting, I just wanted to eat fruits and veggies on Tuesdays!! After an hour long talk with her, I felt hungry and went to the kitchen to get my plate of salad, with yoghurt of course. As I finished my last meal for the day, I felt satisfied. It was only about 8 pm, I could not help thinking how women can fast for once or twice a week throughout their lives. I have seen my mom fasting on Fridays when I was little. I remember she went to temple in the morning, she looked more beautiful on her fasting days than usual, may be this is because of the red attire she puts on that day. But one thing we all knew that was never to nag her or annoy her during her fast! as she used to be a little more sensitive than usual (now she tells me it was because of hunger, she felt angry faster on the days she was fasting). Then I thought about fasting during “Teej”, how women do not drink even a glass of water the whole day. I would go crazy, if I were to do that. Yesterday, I thought of those women with more respect than usual. As I kept thinking about fasting and things related to it, I started feeling hungry :(. My meal quota was finished for the day but I still felt hungry, then my mom’s voice started echoing in my ears, “Chori, dieting nagara hai”(Daughter, do not diet), “Chori, dieting nagara hai….”, “Chori, dieting nagara hai……” :(. As I was surprising myself with unexplained, random and slightly crazy imaginations, A knocked on the door. As, he came in, my first question was “What did you eat for dinner?”. He ignored my query (sensing my restlessness) and replied, nothing special, we just went to the motorway and had something there. So, I didn’t ask him any further and told him I was hungry (my eyes were watering now). At this point he said, “Hare, bichara”(poor girl) and prepared a cup of instant vegetable soup for me. As as I drank it, he reminded me I wanted this vegetarian day for a good reason and I should continue it, however you don’t have to limit your intake to only 3 meals a day. You can eat as much of veggies and fruits as you want. He successfully convinced me and we watched a TV show as I drank my soup :).

I went through a day filled with drama yesterday, hehe. It shows how impatient and restless I am, *sigh*.

Anyway, I dedicate this post to all the women(and men), who fast. Especially to those women who fast during auspicious occasions for the betterment of their family and for the long and healthy life of their husband. They are truly amazing and I respect them more now :).

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