As usual I have been suffering from acute-procrastination-syndrome. Normally it used to be the disease of my academic life, worrying though, it has started to affect my non-academic life as well. I had planed and "promised" to write about my Tihar in London a few days ago (may be a week ago now!), but that plan hasn't materialised yet, although I did start to write a post about my Tihar and the draft is half-way through...To be honest I probably have 10 other half-way-through drafts, which for one reason or another I haven't finished. And if I have to honestly think of one good reason, I can think of none on why they didn't get done other than me procrastinating...Sometimes it makes me really sick but I haven't found a cure of my a-p-s yet! Anyway, today being the first day of the month, I just wanted to jot something down here, hoping it will make me write more as time goes by (just want to mention here as well that "As Time Goes By" (Geoffrey Palmer and Judi Dench's sitcom) is one of my all-time-favourite tv shows)!
Anyway, talking about jotting something down, why not I try to write about how my Tihar went - here and now. That would be like killing two birds with a stone. Ok, may be its not really like killing two birds with a stone, but my point is that since I am definitely going to post this entry here today, I might as well write about what I had promised earlier. I think I should start by responding to Mr Witt's comment. Mr Witt asked if I could write what Tihar is. As I mentioned before, I celebrate it more for its socio-cultural significance than its religious one. And lazy that I am I just searched for "Tihar" in Wikipedia to find the following:
Tihar (?????) is a five day Nepalese festival celebrated in late autumn. One of these days incorporates the Hindu festival Deepavali Although all ethnic groups celebrate it, the Newars in particular celebrate it a certain way.
The first day of Tihar is known as Kag Puja, or Worship of Crows.
The second day is called Kukur Puja, - Khhicha Puja by the Newars - or Worship of Dogs. This is to worship the animal representative of a particular god.
On the morning of the third day is Gai Puja, where the Nepalese worship cows, an animal sacred to the Hindus as it is the animal representative of Laxmi. In the evening is Laxmi Puja, to worship the goddess of wealth.
On the fourth day of Tihar, there are three different known pujas. Most perform Goru Puja, or Worship of Oxen. People who follow Krishna perform Gobardhan Puja, which is worship towards cowdung. Cowdung is seen as very useful in Nepal, as in the olden days it was used for everything from light at night (methane) to polish for the mud floors of traditional houses. The Newar community on the night of this day do Mhha Puja, or Worship of Self. Because this period is also the beginning of Nepal Sambat, or the new year of Nepalese especially commemorated by Newars, it ensures prosperity for the new year.
The third and fourth day of Tihar is especially famous for DEUSI AND BHAILO,light and fireworks. Deusi and Bhailo are the songs which have only been sang on those tihar days. Social workers, young and children visit local homes by singing those songs and instead it,the houseowner give them money,fruit,rice and bread (selroti special type of bread made by rice flour and sugar).
The fifth and last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika, a day where sisters put "tika" on forehead of brothers, to ensure long life, and thank them for the protection they give.
On a side note Wikipedia also had following at the bottom of their "Tihar" page:
Tihar may also refer to the Tihar Jail in Delhi, the largest in India.Tihar is also the oldest village of New Delhi. the famous jail was named after it.
Googling "Tihar" provided me with the following link, which gives more info on Tihar than I knew myself about!
So may be Mr Witt would just like to click and skim through the page. Sorry for being so lazy to not write these myself, however, I'm gonna write about my Tihar. As a kid, Tihar to me was about new clothes, great food, deusi-bhailos, firecrackers, and of course Bhaitika, I guess it was the same for most kids of my generation, and probably for kids now. As I grew older, the list shortened to include probably Bhaitika in number one followed by playing cards and good foods. Now in this foreign land, its all about Bhaitika, especially now that I have been lucky enough to have one of my sisters living in the same country.
I travelled to London the day before Bhaitika (on Monday 23 Oct) expecting to have a good time (a good break from work as well). My sister had planned to prepare sel-roti (special deep-fried breads made from rice flour) that night after I got there. I was happy to help in any way I can and although we couldn't make as good sel-rotis as we had seen our mum make on so many Tihars in Nepal, we were happy with our efforts and "relatively" happy with the results considering we were making these probably only the second or third time by ourselves. When in Nepal, my role in Tihar, in terms of inputs in this enterprise only included helping out in preparing flour for the sel-rotis, and in preparing dough for puri and rolling perfectly round puris on a flat wooden board. I was quite proud of the fact that I could roll puris so nice 🙂 Here in London as well, I helped roll those flat breads and my sister did rest of the cooking. It was a fun evening, although we had to postpone making anarsa (a kind of very sweet deep-fried bread made from rice flour) until next morning as we had some problems in preparing flour for it that night.
Sel-rotis that we prepared for Tihar
Next morning (Tuesday 24 Oct), the first thing we did was to prepare anarsa, although it didn't turn out anywhere like we had seen our mum make them at home! My sister prepared food while I prepared myself for Bhaitika 🙂 Brother-in-law helped out with the ingredients for the Tika and around 12:00 noon, our Tika started. Last time I received tika like this from my sister was also in London in 2003. I was on my way to Nepal from Canada for a field trip then and my sister happened to be in London. That was also the first time I had met my brother-in-law as I had missed my sister's wedding. Anyway, it was fun (and a great luck) to have been able to receive tika from my sister on Bhaitika here in England. Afterwards, we had pukka Nepali lunch and played cards the whole day! It did remind of good Tihar days in Nepal but to be able to celebrate here with my sister was extra special and it was also a nice break from work.
Receiving Tika from my sister
Although, talking of work, I haven't been able to get anything concrete done since getting back from London 🙁 A bit frustrating at times but my work pattern has always been very random, with days even weeks of procrastination at times, and then a period of really productive days or even weeks. So, at the moment, it feels as if I am waiting for that productive period to come.
In the meantime, I have joined an introductory French language class at the university. I thought I should learn some French as I am planning to go to West Africa to carry out my field research soon. Actually, I missed my first lesson due to my trip to London for Tihar but I managed to cover what I had missed in that first class myself. Good thing was I didn't feel I was lagging behind other students when I went to the second (my first) French class this Monday. I have a two-hour class for French every Monday with an expected 2-4 hours of self study per week. Now that I have started learning this language, I have set myself a new challenge - to blog in French once in a while by the end of this term (after 6 weeks of class!). Lets see how it goes. Now I should really get back to my work. I have to prepare a presentation for a seminar talk that I am supposed to give on leasehold forestry on Friday. I really should...
By the way, I have reinserted the code that pulls the thumbnail of the last image from my photoblog on the left sidebar here, and I don't see much delay in loading the page as I had experienced last time leading me to remove the code altogether. May be it was just the problem with the server OR my internet connection then. Anyway, you can see the latest entry on my photoblog from right here and if you want to see the larger image just click on the thumbnail. As always, flickr thumbnails are on the left as well, but unfortunately I haven't updated my flickr image repository for a long time now. Well, thats all I have got to write about now...Au revoir...