First came the realisation, then the excitement and the reality finally settled in me when i came back home in the festival season after five years abroad. I hadn’t planned on making my return in the specific celebration but when the realisation settled, i got excited about this wonderful opportunity to be back home, celebrating two of the auspicious festivals of my country; Dashain and Tihar. Surely they weren’t forgotten in England too, where i had been living for the past five years, but enjoying the holidays in your own country, sharing the same enthusiasm with your fellow people and family is an ineffable feeling of belonging. Setting the enthusiasm, the excitement and all the zeal aside, the truth of preparing for the festivals is just like laying your eyes on the new Louis Vuitton bag, making up your mind to buy it only to gaze upon the outrageous price and you start counting all the months you would have to labor yourself to achieve that beauty.
Yep. Festivals in Nepal could actually be compared with the process of getting yourself an expensive merchandise that we can only buy once a while, instigated through planning, calculating, labor and plenty of prayers (If not, it is definitely like going through two completely different relationships with guys that are polar opposite). While my mom did all the planning and calculating, the rest of our family were busy grinding ourselves to welcome the deities in our humble abode. It started with cleaning every single corners, dusting away the spider webs, hand washing those rugged carpets, and cleaning every bronze utensils in the house. Although i had grown up doing all that, my muscles must have had a long break since they ached every night after an extensive day.
Once that is done, shopping ascends. And that won’t be one of those fun shopping spree where you have a stack of money in your bag, you look at new things and all you have to do is pick your favourite, no matter the price. This purchase will be a tedious day where you roam around the busy streets, half crammed by the vendors and the other half by strangers completing their own list of purchase. Since everything is in the season, the prices are sky-rocketed before they are even displayed and you pull up your sleeves to start with the bargaining. Unlike the LV bag, you can negotiate the price of the things you plan to buy which feels good. But then unlike the LV bag again, they are not sold in an air-conditioned show room, instead you are standing (or at times being pushed by) in the middle of some streets with the sun baking your skin that by the time you settle in an agreement you wonder whether all that squabble was even worth it. And usually it’s not, cause despite what the vendors say, there is always another selling the same exact thing in a lower price just 5 meters ahead. What seems to be worth might be the tan you get by the end of the day, which really is a nuisance because… Come on! We are Nepalese, we don’t like getting tan!
While you are doing all of these, Dashain has already walked into your life. Glided swiftly towards you and bringing your family together, Dashain becomes your friend you don’t remember meeting the first time, but you’ve created a special friendship by the fifth day. As you slowly start getting comfortable, Dashain becomes your secure boyfriend who gives you the time to know him, get used to him and slowly fall for him. He will pamper you with all the good foods, new clothes, a few extra hard cash to spend and without realising, you are in a faithful relationship. But then after the tenth day, things change between you two. You realise that Dashain was only here for fun, while you have a lot more in your hands (life for instance) to get together. So after few lost flown kites and sways in the bamboo swing, Dashain walks away, leaving you hungover with his memories.
The next few days leaves you wondering the value of all the hard work you had put through for Dashain. You are still not over the fact that Dashain has indeed left you after gifting you a satisfied relationship. Few days later, you notice your comfort has made you gained few weights. So, to get your grip, you start going out again, might take a week, but you finally put on those baggy shirts and a size bigger jeans and walk out of your house.
Deja vu triggers as you walk along the same streets and start shopping for Tihar. However this time, you are more cautious about the price you pay. You have learned that the first vendor you see might not be giving you the best price. So you negotiate and even though it brings you to a heated row, you stick to your argument cause your relationship earlier has made you wiser and stronger. You buy lesser stuffs than before and even though the beautifully designed clay lamps look tempting, you resist buying them. You are going to recycle the ones have from last year anyway!
Unlike Dashain, Tihar is your instantaneous lover. You see him coming, bolting towards you. And by the third date, you are already in love with him. You have yourself dressed charming and your house looks amazing with those recycled clay lamps. He makes you feel loved, occupied, entertained and then after a couple of days, he exits your life. Like he was never there to begin with. What remains are the decorated lights, the chipped clay lamps and a house requiring reorganisation. But you aren’t bothered to do all that ASAP since you are still recovering from the one that got away. Yet life still goes on and you know it is time to pick up whatever has been left behind and move on with your life. You start a routine exercise to reduce your weight, you keep yourself away from the carbs, focus on your life and by the time November ends, you are already making English New Year’s resolutions list. Well at least that isn’t like buying an LV bag!
So…. here’s to the festivals we’ve celebrated and the festivals to come along. May we all enjoy being in the moment. Here’s to life. Here’s to 2017!