This is what I saw on the streets of Narayanghat last week, when the Maoists had called for a national strike saying they do not want elections to happen.
While they were scared election might bring stability to the country, economy and society, there were a few stray kinds on the streets with no hope for a better future, living worse than animals. At least, animals live a healthy life – so long as they live!
I just couldn’t take my eyes off the naked kid till I moved off of their sight.
I was in a car and they were playing among themselves. But as I got the camera out, it sure got all their attention. And as I didn’t tell the driver to slow down or anything, I was driving away from them while they kept chasing the car our of sheer childhood pleasure.
This was at Yalambar road, Sunsari, Nepal. Last week.
Pasni, the Weaning Ceremony is one in hundreds of celebrations in Nepal in which a child is first fed rice. Although centuries old tradition, modern science has established the fact that child’s digestive system is capable of processing solid food when they are approximately 6 months old. This is why Pasni is held when baby is 6-month-old but it is different in daughters and sons.
This ceremony is held at five months for daughters, and six months for sons. An auspicious date and time is chosen by an astrologer, usually a Hindu, and all the closest relatives are invited to witness and to celebrate. The rice is the first and easily digestible solid food baby eats. This custom varies with the variation of religion, caste and also place. Like mangolians Gurung, Magar serve with kheer which is rice cooked with milk and sugar similarly Brahmin, Kshatris also do same. Whereas myriads of dishes are prepared and served in Newar. All the dishes are served in one giant woven plate of leaves.
Baby is dressed in saffron silk cloth (although modern families will often put a diaper (nappy) on, to minimize accidents.) The baby is held by the paternal aunt while the entire family feed her or him the first taste of rice. Musicians playing traditional music can be invited to start the function at the given auspicious time. After the baby has eaten, she or he will undergo another extensive puja (worship ceremony) often led by a priest or the oldest member of the household or clan, and accompanied by chanting from ancient scriptures.
For the rest of the day, the baby is dressed in a special outfit, usually made of red velvet and embroidered with silver and golden thread. The child is offered with gifts, money by close relatives, and gold and silver ornaments by grandparents. These ornaments include heavy silver anklets (kalli) carved with dragon at both the ends to keep the bad omens away from baby. These ornaments can be handed on as heirlooms.
Pasni ceremonies have become extensively lavish these days, with large parties of not just close relatives, but also colleagues and friends being invited for the event. The guests, numbering in their hundreds, partake in a wedding-style banquet under tents, which are often catered by commercial catering agencies. They also bring gifts for the child, a new custom that has become more popular with the commercial rise of clothes, toys and other gift items targeted towards children.
Simpler ceremonies are also performed in temples dedicated to female tantric deities, with only a few relatives in attendance.
The ceremony varies from family to family as they incorporate their own long-standing family traditions.