Written by Bidushi Adhikari, Women LEAD Intern.
The 18th of October concluded the 15-day celebrations of one of the most important holidays in the Hindu calendar: Vijaya Dashami. During this festival, Hindus across Nepal and aboard celebrate the triumph of good over evil when goddess Durga defeated the plight of a demon in devlok (the world of gods). The celebrations commemorate the principles of truth, justice, and virtue. For other Hindus, the festival celebrates the day that Rama defeated the evil Ravana in the book of Ramayana. Following a series of rituals, which include the plantation of the sacred grass known as jamara, animal sacrifices, and the worship of vehicles so as to avoid accidents the whole year, the most important day of Dashain, Dashera, arrives. During this day, and for the following four, families and relatives visit each other to receive blessings from the eldest members of the family, who put jamara and tika, a mixture of rice, vermillion, and yogurt, on the members’ foreheads. Often, a small amount of money, dakshina, accommodates the blessing. Families travel great distances to come and be blessed by their elders; so the festival gives way for strengthening relationships and ties amongst a family. Other forms of celebration of Dashain are the erection of bamboo swings on playgrounds, kids flying kites, older members of the family gathering to play cards, and the marketplace being flooded with people looking to buy new clothes.
At Women LEAD, 16 LEADers, including some alumni, gathered at the office on the 10th of October to celebrate the upcoming festival. Each of the girls bought a small plant that would be planted in the garden with their names alongside. They will be responsible to take care of their plants throughout the year. The girls bought with them lots of food, including dry fruits, chips, biscuits, popcorn, and soda, to share with the whole group. After the plantations, the girls exchanged gifts of colorful bangles and mehendi. As it was International Women’s Day on the 11th, the girls danced to good music and wrote on the whiteboard the reasons why they love being girls, some of which included “Being a girl is the blessing of God” and “If I wasn’t a girl, I wouldn’t be a part of Women LEAD.” After much hustle and bustle, the girls got down to watching an English comedy movie and enjoying the festive season.