Click on title to view photo in large format: Hindu worshiper sacrifices a chicken at the Pachali Bhairab Temple on the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. Nepal is one of the few parts of the world where animal sacrifice is still practiced. Though in its purest form it is intended to relieve Hindus from the cycle of death and rebirth, animal sacrifice is more often used to Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: Trash blows around the lanes as vendors pack up and head home in late afternoon at the Kalimati Fruit and Vegetable Market in Kathmandu. Empty plastic milk crates are stacked high, awaiting incoming goods that arrive during the night. The following morning, the process will begin anew, with wholesalers arriving before dawn in order to Read More
Five years ago my Yoga guru invited me to celebrate the Brother-Sister Tika Ceremony with his family during the Hindu holiday of Tihar in Nepal. Though I didn’t know it until the end of that day, accepting his invitation meant that I was officially “adopted” by the family. In many ways, this cemented my relationship with Nepal; I loved it before, and after the Tika Ceremony I loved it even more. Since that day, I have visited many times, but my schedule had never put me there during Tihar, so it was with great excitement that I arrived in Pokhara this past November to celebrate the full five-day holiday with my family.
Stories differ about the origin of Tihar, which is also known as the Festival of Lights. One of the best known is an ancient Hindu legend about a king whose astrologer told him a serpent would take his life. When the king asked if there was any way to escape death, the astrologer advised him to sleep with oil lamps lit around his bed and to decorate the palace with oil lamps on the day when the goddess Lakshmi was to be worshiped. In return for being so honored, Lakshmi persuaded the serpent to spare the king’s life but Yama Raj, the god of the underworld, still had to be convinced that it was not yet the king’s time to die. Yama opened his ledger to where the king’s remaining age was written as zero but the serpent cleverly put a seven before the zero and the king lived for seventy more years.
Day one of Tihar in Nepal is dedicated to the crow, which is the messenger of Yama Raj. Bhai (older brother) set out a plate of food to honor the crow early in the morning on this first day and we all sat on the porch, delightedly watching as crows flew down from the power lines to peck at the food. Dogs, which are believed to guard the gates to the underworld, Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: Shop owner strings a custom necklace in the Pote Bazaar (bead market) area of Indra Chowk in Kathmandu, Nepal. Hindu women, especially those of the Brahmin and Chhetri caste, receive a string of these beads at their wedding, which they wear for the rest of their lives as a symbol of their marriage. Though the shop owners at Pote Bazaar are now facing competition from newer shops in malls, the tiny stalls at Indra Chowk are still considered the traditional place to purchase items made from the glass beads. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: Nepali woman squats next to her vegetable stand in Kathmandu. For many residents of Nepal, the meager sales garnered from makeshift kiosks such as this one mean the difference between starvation and eating, especially since the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015. She sells fresh fruits and vegetables, which she likely grows on a tiny plot near her home, as well as snacks such as potato chips and candy bars. She wraps herself in a colorful shawl to ward off Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: Chilies (khursani) at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market in Kathmandu, Nepal. These exceedingly hot chilies are used in many Nepali recipes. Every Nepali household keeps a stock of these spicy peppers, which can be stored for long periods if ground up and dried. Restaurateurs & residents flock to this wholesale market early every morning to buy fresh fruits and vegetables like the khursani shown above. The market also offers fish from lakes in India, which are Read More