Laxshmi puja – Let there be light

Today is Laxshmi puja, the day to welcome the goddess of good fortune to visit your house. We checked the batteries of our solar lights, and strung the bulbs across our second floor patio.

Houses in the neighborhood are decorated with lights and candles:

A mandala will help the goddess find the entrance to your house:

Notice the red blur in the picture, near the mandala. Is this Laxshmi?

A Festival of Light in the Dark – Part II

 This looks like a traffic jam….
But actually it is cars and buses parked along the road waiting for gas. The parked vehicles on one of Kathmandu’s busy thoroughfares can cause the same traffic jam as if they were moving.

This weekend there was a brief three day spell where you could get in a line for fuel, but many were frustrated. That will continue. Here is the evening headline in the Kathmandu Post about the Nepal Oil Company (NOC):

 

Not much help for the vehicles stuck in the line waiting for gas or diesel. Also friends of mine told me that cooking oil had double in price, along with other food stuffs.

Our employer continues to take good care of us and our needs are covered. But our hearts go out to the people who can least afford this hardship, because they are the ones who are suffering the most.

A Festival of Light in the Dark

This is the festival season in Nepal (See this previous post to learn more). Think of the time between Thanksgiving and New Years in the West. The next festival is Tihar, the festival of lights.

However, we are in the same fuel crisis that started in the third week of September.

Linda and I are fine. But it did get more personal today. Our housekeeper, Indira, has been showing up and doing her job each day at the house. Besides the cleaning, washing and ironing, Indira takes care of us. She pays our local bills, commandeers water trucks when needed, and makes sure all of the delivery people are paid, and happy. She usually takes a bus, but the bus service is not available. Her next method for getting here is on the back of her son’s motorcycle. He is out of gas. So she walks. She walks one hour each way to our house.

Indira’s story is repeated in a thousand households in this city.  Indira takes the hardship as Nepalis do, “I will get thin with exercise!”

Note to Readers: At this time it is OK to sing to yourself the Monty Python song “Always look on the bright side of life.” Maybe it will make you a little more Nepali.

September 27th was the last time private cars and motorcycles could get fuel. Today the pumps open up again for three days. There is a schedule of when you can go, based on our license plate.

NOC=Nepal Oil Corporation

There is a cascade of bad headlines that seem to be the new normal such as: Business closed and hotels running at less than 20% capacity. The irony is that it is a great time to visit Nepal. Because travel to Nepal is not just about temples and mountains, it is about the Nepali people.

Next week is the celebration of Tihar. It is a festival of lights in which small oil cups burn inside and outside of houses. We had an early celebration at work, honoring all of our staff during this difficult time. One of the local staff said to the assembled group a simple sentence that both humbled me, and brought a tear to my eye:

“We can not illuminate our houses but we can illuminate our hearts”
Are you still singing the song?