At least ten arms reach towards me, pressing the wet tika onto my forehead while murmuring soft words of blessings and good will. My folded hands attempt to catch the red rice and curd mixture as it drips from their hands onto my lap and the carpeted floor we sit on.
There must be as many as twelve people in the small family lounge room, the eldest of whom are sitting on the floor in front of the tika mixture, ready to give the blessing to the rest of the family.
Each family member, friend and guest receive a tika that covers most of their forehead; a physical embodiment of the good wishes and blessings bestowed upon us by our new family.
Today is the main festival day, celebrated with good food, many guests, visiting family members and of course, the giving of the tika. Dashain festival is a time of open doors. There are four other volunteers here, plus myself and we are lucky enough to be spending the week with Bikram’s family in their home in Chitwan.
We have already met half the village, as people come to visit and receive tika. It’s so beautiful to see the family giving tika’s, each person receives the same honest and transparent blessing, regardless of age, background or religion. Today is about wishing well for the future.
Dashain festival is often described to foreigners like me as being like’ our Christmas’, not in a religious sense, but in that family members gather together, usualy taking 1-2 weeks holidays. There is good food (a lot of meat is eaten over Dashain festival, usually the animal is sacrificed at a temple first), good company and good times and with the family coming and going, hot weather and summer storms, it did feel just like an Aussie Christmas… in a way.
By Jess Saxton, Journalism Internship 2013.