Notes From Nepal — March 26, 2005

by Rob Rose, Cub Reporter

Yesterday was the culminating day of Holi, the Hindu festival of water and colors. In Nepal it’s also known as Phagu and celebrates the extermination of a female demon, Holika. I was honored to be invited to celebrate Holi with the chlidren at the disabled center. There’s no doubt about it, this is a very messy holiday and I took the precaution of wearing old clothes and brought along a change of clothes (We Bellevue-ites are no dummies!).

My host, Rabendra Pandey brought plenty of squirt-guns and also bags of red powder to smear on faces. Plain and red-colored water is used to throw (or squirt) on others and you can grab handfuls of red powder and apply it liberally to anyone’s face! Water balloons, or golas, are lobbed from neighboring buildings. It’s a wild event and the kids had a great time. We were all running around squirting water, smearing powder, laughing and generally having lots of fun.

All around Kathmandu, similar mischiefs were happening. There is some very creative face painting to be seen and you have to keep your car windows rolled up unless you want an errant water ballon thrown in! This is mostly an activity for younger people, but those young at heart (myself and Rabendra included) are welcome to join in.

We played for a couple of hours, before being hosed off by Shanti, who is the house-mom for all of the children. We dried off on the roof of the center and had boxed-snacks and juice again provided by Rabendra. Then came the entertainment with several of the kids showing off their dancing talents, dancing to Hindi film music. I couldn’t believe their moves, and their handicaps definitely didn’t slow them down one bit!

It’s such a warm feeling here, being surrounded by these children. I don’t know how else to describe it — there’s love and kindness, playfulness in some of the kids, others are more shy and quiet, but overall, it feels warm and good. Simple terms to describe complex feelings.

The children wave and wave and still they wave some more from the roof of their building until our car is out of sight. Tomorrow I return to participate with the Rotary Club of Kopundol in a painting/clean-up project at the center.

For tonight, It’s going to take a while to get the red Holi powder out of my ears and hair, but if you happen to see any left on me when I return to Bellevue, you’ll know that I wear it with pride!

Your Reporter in Kathmandu,
Rob Rose