A festival blog: Celebrating Tihar (or Deepawali or Deewali)[Wagle with Thiar Bhai Tika 2005. From that year’s Tihar blog]
The live images of Nicholas Sarkozy talking about France-U.S. relations in Washington are coming on CNN as I am eating dal bhat while also talking to a friend. The talk finished, the food finished, the speech is going on. Sarkozy lauds the American ideals, the ticker on the CNN reads. He is also talking about the Atlantic alliance. I am hear him through the English translator. This beautiful girl is smiling and looking at me from my desktop. I wash my hands and brush my teeth. And while I am brushing, my sister comes from downstairs and hands me over flowers: makhmali and sayapatri phool. “Today is kaag tihar [the first day of Tihar the festival of light when the crow is worshipped],” she says. “I am inviting you for Bhai Tika.” I am almost taken aback by the invitation. I mean that was the last thing I had expected for the day. [Tihar is also called Deepawali in Nepali and Deewali in India.]
I knew that my sister had come to our house (she is married and lives with her husband in other part of Kathmandu) for Tihar festival but I had completely forgotten that today was the day of inviting brothers by sisters. This also tells how detached I am from rest of my family. I am mostly busy with myself and the work (which also includes blogging!). I rarely talk to relatives (many of them either don’t recognize me or I don’t recognize them) and I also talk very little with my family members. (Is that because I don’t see them online on Instant Messengers? he, he, he, I wonder!!) Sounds like they have completely understood me, they also don’t start conversations with me rightly assuming that I don’t like to talk much! That doesn’t mean I don’t talk at all. I talk to select colleagues at office (and when it comes to professional topics, I talk freely and openly to all, but the chiya guff with only a few!) I also talk a lot over the IMs. Even this evening I was talking for more than half an hour to a person who identified as a Chinese! About what? Maoism, of course!
Anyway, I have mentioned many times in this web site that I am religiously secular and am not very enthusiastic about celebrating festivals. I was trekking in Helambu during Dashain, the biggest festival of Nepalis (or Hindus so to speak), away from family and home. I didn’t take the celebrations seriously, traveling and seeing new place was more important to me. Not all people like the idea but I am what I am. My newspaper will have two days of holiday in Tihar festival but for some reason I didn’t make any plans of going out for traveling for those two days.
Tihar is about sisters and brothers. Yes, I don’t give priority to celebrating but what about my sister, I thought, she might not be thinking the same way. Missing out Tihar is not same as missing out Dashain, I concluded. I thought my sister wouldn’t take my absence happily on the day of Tika. So I am staying home this Bhai Tika [the final day of Tihar festival when sisters put tika on the foreheads of their brothers wishing the longevity of their lives.]
For the first time, I am feeling, that I am thinking for others, for my sister. Thanks for inviting (which I couldn’t say on your face a few minuets ago). And you know why I couldn’t, right? I don’t talk much!!!!!
Previous Tihar blogs: