Tag Archives: nepal

Rukumkot’s Sisnu Festival

A day after Maghi there were no signs on colors in Rukumkot village. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see young boys and girls in Rukumkot hitting each other below the knees by stinging nettle. Dozens of boys and girls had gathered around the Village Development Committee building in the afternoon. Most of them held bunches of sisnu wrapped by pieces of paper or plastic to save their hands from sting.

Elderly people, mostly women, watched the teenagers play the game of sisnu. It was, like the game of colors in Holi, primarily a game between girls and boys– girls trying to attack boys and vice versa. The rule was that you couldn’t hit above the knees. I learned from the elders that the sisnu festival was a tradition in the village. Actually some women were surprised that I didn’t know about it. One of the girls hit me and an elderly woman, showing much sympathy, suggested me to massage my calves with ghee in the evening.

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Some images from Rukum

I saw that people in some villages of Rukum and Rolpa celebrated the Maghi festival like the way many in other parts of Nepal celebrate the Holi festival- by smearing their faces in colored powders. (See here how people of Thabang village celebrated.) A day after Maghi, after my return from Thabang, at Khabang Bagar a girl put abir (dye) on my forehead and jamara (barley sprouts) on my ear.

A woman walks past a Maoist mural at the entrance of Thabang village, Rolpa: 1st line: Workers of the world, unite. 2nd line: No election campaign zone!

Thabang: The village that didn’t vote; once hosted Maoist guerrillas

A man in Thabang, Rolpa, face smeared with colored powder, celebrated Maghi festival. On the background is an anti-election slogan-

A man in Thabang, Rolpa, face smeared with colored powder, celebrated Maghi festival. On the background is an anti-election slogan- “the one who asks for vote will get chot (hurt).”

(यो लेखलाई नेपालीमा पढ्न यहाँ क्लिक गर्नुस्)

On November 19, 2013 Nepal held national elections for the second Constituent Assembly. The country witnessed a record turnout. I was among the 9.4 million Nepalis who voted that day. But one entire village in remote mid-west Nepal abstained. Thabang boycotted the elections.

One more reason to go to Thabang, I thought.

My desire to go there predated the village’s post-election “fame”. In 2011, I was just five-hours hike away from Thabang. There was a hill between me and the village. That, after walking for three days. But an unexpected and severe knee pain had forced me to abandon my plan.

Thabang is where, it is said, the Maoist “People’s War” began in 1996. That’s where some of the top leaders of the insurgency found shelter as they planned more attacks against the Nepali state. “The local people would compete among themselves to host party Chairman Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal),” Durgalal KC writes in the Kathmandu Post.

The Maoists decided to end their 10-year-long janayuddha in late 2005. The conflict actually ended in 2006 following the spectacular success of the peaceful multiparty mass demonstrations in April that year.

During the insurgency, the Maoists had tried to develop Thabang as “a model Maoist village”. After the end of the conflict, the elected Maoist-led government recognized it as one of a few dozen model villages in the country. This ensured more attention and state funding to the village. To cut the long story short, Thabang is not just another sleepy Nepali village (at least in description). It knows how to take risk and grab national attention at the same time.

Smash the ballot box- Boycott the election. Thabang, Rolpa.

Smash the ballot box- Boycott the election. Thabang, Rolpa.

No Election

No Election

In a recent sunny afternoon the people of Thabang, Rolpa gathered to chat under a Maoist anti-election graffiti. 1st line: Don't divide Thabang; 2nd line: Middlemen leaders are not needed.

In a recent sunny afternoon the people of Thabang, Rolpa gathered to chat under a Maoist anti-election graffiti. 1st line: Don’t divide Thabang; 2nd line: Middlemen leaders are not needed.

Former Maoist guerrilla Jeet Bahadur Gharti and his mules pass through a landslide in Rukum

Former Maoist guerrilla Jeet Bahadur Gharti and his mules pass through a landslide in Rukum

On that October day in 2011, I stared at the hill that the locals said I would have to climb to reach Thabang. It looked like a tough climb. My knee was not up for it. So I limped with a mule caravan to reach Rukumkot to catch a jeep. (Limping all day long with a mule caravan to reach Rukumkot).

My wish to see the guerrilla village remained unfulfilled.

But I knew that I would be back. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

भोट नहाल्ने गाउँ थबाङ पुग्दा

A woman walks past a Maoist mural at the entrance of Thabang village, Rolpa: 1st line: Workers of the world, unite. 2nd line: No election campaign zone!

A woman walked past a Maoist mural at the entrance of Thabang village, Rolpa:
1st line: Workers of the world, unite.
2nd line: No election campaign zone!

[Click here to read this article in English and see more photos.]

नेपालमा २०७० मंसिर ४ गते दोस्रो संविधान सभाका लागि राष्ट्रिय चुनाव भयो । जनताले सर्वाधिक संख्यामा मतदान गरे । त्यो दिन भोट हाल्ने ९४ लाख नेपालीहरू मध्ये म पनि एक थिएँ । तर मध्यपश्चिम नेपालको एउटा पुरै गाउँ मतदान केन्द्रमा अनुपस्थित भयो । रोल्पाको थबाङले चुनाव बहिस्कार गर्यो ।

थवाङ जाने एउटा अर्को बहाना, मैले सोचेँ ।

पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Was browsing through the snapshots taken in 2013 by the phone. Here are four from April- women and children of Chitlang village and a house and a dog. (More pics in this original post)



A couple of weeks back I walked from Bhaktapur’s Changunarayan Temple to Nagarkot (4hrs). The walk continued next morning. Went to Sankhu via Lapsephedi (near Jaharsingh Pouwa, 6hrs). This is one of the several villages that are part of Kathmandu-2 constituency where I am registered to vote (I voted). Found a piece of campaign poster in Phedi, just before taking a rarely-walked trail to Bajrayogini temple, that appealed for a victory to the UCPN Maoist candidate Lilamani Pokharel win in the Nov 19 polls. (Pokharel came a distant third.)

Changunarayan

19 July- Can’t remember the last time I was here but it doesn’t look very different. The temple, built several centuries ago over a small hilltop in Bhaktapur district and recently renovated, looked new. Read the history of Changu Narayan here

Will Nepal Survive?

Nepal banchchha ke? Big question indeed. It's not just about the fear of foreign agression or intervention (that many talk and/or whisper about) anymore. The stunning mismanagement, chaos, the 'failed state' like situation, near total breakdown of the system (whatever that is), utter disappointment with the leadership (of all kind) must have pushed people to edge to think about and ask such question. That's my assumption- purely personal. What do you think? :: Kumari House, Darbar Square, Basantapur, Kathmandu. Spotted on 18th May 2013.

Nepal banchchha ke? Big question indeed. It’s not just about the fear of foreign agression or intervention (that many talk and/or whisper about) anymore. The stunning mismanagement, chaos, the ‘failed state’ like situation, near total breakdown of the system (whatever that is), utter disappointment with the leadership (of all kind) must have pushed people to edge to think about and ask such question. That’s my assumption- purely personal. What do you think? :: Kumari House, Darbar Square, Basantapur, Kathmandu. Spotted on 18th May 2013.

And Nepal, to burrow the words of Gloria Gaynor, must be saying: I Will Survive.

Chitlang revisited

A farmer in Chitlang with his plough

A farmer in Chitlang on way to field with a plough on his shoulder

27/28 April: A hike up to Chitlang over the weekend. Passed through this village back in 5/6 May 2010 with Suraj on his motorbike.

The Maoists, still angry with President Yadav and Prime Minister Nepal almost a year after their exit from the government, had imposed an indefinite country-wide general strike with lofty aims of correcting the ‘regression’ and capturing Kathmandu (the Valley AND the Power Center). They had brought thousands of people in the Valley from different parts of Nepal (and, as we found out, Bihar). Some of these people, frustrated by the uncertainty that the ‘indefinite’ nature of the strike posed and mismanagement of the agitation program by the Maoist party, were fleeing Kathmandu. They were returning to their homes. They had to walk for as long as two days because no vehicles were plying on roads, thanks to the strike. We followed some of those people who were ‘escaping’ out of Kathmandu via Kulekhani/Bhimphedi. They were people with diverse backgrounds- reflective of the country itself. And most of them had pressing works to attend. Based on our conversation with them we filed a story for Kantipur. Here’s the report titled “गुराँस टिप्दै फर्किए आन्दोलनकारी“:

दिनेश वाग्ले/सुरज कुँवर पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

malangawa, sarlahi streets on a rainy day

21 June: My impression of Malangawa where I am now for the first time? Very basic bazaar. Feels like nothing here is in good shape. But that’s when you are frustrated. Feel good and you start realizing that the place is normal, like any other district headquarters that have unpaved roads, dilapidated buildings and dirty markets. That’s Nepal, of course.

All together..

All together..

पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्