A time for renewal

This time of year is traditionally a time of renewal.  A time of farewell and thankfulness to what’s gone by, and a celebration in joyful hope of what is yet to come.  It’s a rebirth of sorts.

What I find very interesting is how similar cultures are and how many mark this joyous period of the year in such a variety of traditions.  Check out what’s happening this week alone.

Here in Sri Lanka, it’s New Year tomorrow.  A national holiday, it’s known as Avurudu by the Sinhala and Puththandu by the Tamil and is celebrated by both cultures.  Special New Year dishes are scoffed on New Year’s morning and include kiribath (a coconut milk rice cooked in an earthen pot) and hath maluwa (a seven vegetable curry).  To top off the meal, a large selection of sweets – it would not be Sri Lankan if there wasn’t an overkill on sweet things!

It’s also a tradition to don new clothes and give many gifts to family.  It’s a pretty big day, the markets and grocery stores were jammed yesterday.

My family and friends in Ireland and Canada are celebrating Easter.  For practicing Christians, it’s the closing of Lent where you get to eat all the yummy things you gave up for 40 days and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday.  See – there’s that renewal theme again.  For everyone else it’s a time to gather with family and friends for a feast, and enjoy good chocolate.

More of my Canadian friends are commemorating Passover which is a Jewish holiday that marks the liberation from slavery and freedom as a nation for all Jews.  Monday will see many sharing food with family and friends with unleavened bread being key.

A large crowd in Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square on Tuesday night.  Photo credit: Skanda Gautam

In Bhaktapur, Nepal, Bisket Jatra is celebrated over a few days around the time of new year on the Bikram Sambat calendar. It coincides with the transition from Winter to Spring and is a frenzied festival where a chariot carrying a statue of the God Bhairava is pulled by hundreds of people ending up in Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square.

Young men in the tug of war.  Unsure what part of town they are from! Photo credit: Skanda Gautam

A huge tug-of-war between the eastern and western part of town commences, each side trying to pull the chariot to their part of town.  By New Year’s Eve, it’s pulled down and today saw the New Year being brought in.

In 2014 I experienced the preparations for Bisket Jatra in the days prior but decided against attending as it can get quite boisterous.

This is a photo of the chariot itself taken in 2014.  It’s bound together with straw ropes – very unstable!  Photo credit:  Kathmandu Post.

The young men can get a tad boisterous in their celebrations as we saw yesterday where over 11 young men were arrested for bad behaviour.  Those crazy crowds are just not my thing!

To end this post, no matter what you are celebrating this week or where you are in the world, go in peace and love with your family and friends.

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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