I have returned to Kathmandu after some days exploring the valley in areas with limited internet access. It has been wonderful to meet new people and explore the beautiful surroundings of this amazing city. As usual, people I meet along the way always wish to offer help and through random encounters I have been able to secure more interviews for my field work. This place never ceases to amaze me! But now it is time for the Dasain festivities, the biggest celebration in the country where mass internal migration sees millions of people travelling around the nation to celebrate with their families in their home villages. This means that all offices are closed down for the last week and the week to come which means lots of time to begin the mammoth exercise of sorting through all my field notes and interview transcriptions to begin putting the thesis together. With so many people returned to their home villages, Kathmandu is blissfully quiet!
The Dasain festival is a Hindu celebration which celebrates the victorious goddess Durga who in mythical tales won over the forces of evil. In her honour, hundreds of thousands of goats, buffalo and other animals are being sacrificed every day during the festivities. As a vegetarian and animal lover, I was somewhat shocked to see how many animals are being killed in Nepal this week. One Buddhist group here in Kathmandu has been collecting donations to save a goat or a buffalo from slaughter each Dasain festival over the last 10 years or so. And each year over the festival period, they take the saved animals on a pilgrimage around a Buddhist stupa to try to give the animals better karma in their next lifetime. Intrigues by this unusual tradition, I offered to assist in helping the animal sanctuary to walk the goats around the stupa – the buffalo being much to big to get into the garden where the stupa sits. It was a completely unexpected occurrence in a nation which continues with the unexpected but a lot of fun and a lot of laughs as we tried to get these animals a better reincarnation!