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Photographer's Note

Dashain is the 15-day national and religious festival of Nepal. The festival is closely related to Navratri celebrated by Hindus in India. The festival falls around September-October, before the rice harvest.

This festival is known for emphasis on family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together.

The festival is a blend of Hindu Tantrik and animistic harvest festival traditions. On the first day, the "Dashain Ghar", or special worship room, is set up. Married women will say the mantras for the next fifteen days, and guard the goddesses. Barley is sowed on big earthern pots which have a coating of cow dung. These seeds will sprout in ten days. The sprouts, which symbolize a good harvest, will be decoratively placed on the heads of family members later on in the festival as a blessing.

This picture was taken on the eighth day, Asthami, which is the day of animal sacrifices. Goddess temples all over the Kathmandu Valley receive sacrifices, ranging from male goats and water buffaloes to ducks and chickens. Blood, symbolic for its fertility, is offered to the Goddesses. This meat is taken home and cooked as "prasad", or food blessed by divinity. This food is offered, in tiny leaf plates, to the household Gods, then distributed amongst the family. Eating this food is thought to be auspicious.

After the bare, mountaneous landscapes of Tibet, the Tibetese border town of Zhangmu towards Nepal is a green relief. If you cross the Nepalese border by land, you go thru a valley carved by Bhote Kosi River with spectacular views of rice and corn terraces. The climate is so humid and pluvial in the Nepalese border town of Kodari that vegetation bursts from each crack, and you may witness nice waterfalls here and there. But the other side of the coin is that, narrow roads on the edge of the cliffs are prone to be subject to frequent landslides. For instance, while passing from the location of a landslide which cost 40 lives a few weeks before, we saw a rock falling in the middle of the road. We were lucky.

Many bus drivers were on a long holiday and they feasted the Dashain by making sacrifices, so that Gods spare them from accidents.

Source: Dashain

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Additional Photos by Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 260 W: 105 N: 596] (3885)
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