The iconic harbingers of this festival have become rare sights and are etched in the fondest memories of this scribe. Not that a lone and unchallenged kite is not sighted if one scours the sky. Children this scribe teaches refer to Wikipedia to find out what linge ping is
Alongside tika – a triadic mixture of rice, curd and vermillion – on one's forehead, jamara – a yellow grass considered sacred – atop the head, perhaps, a few flower petals to go with and the much-anticipated crisp notes slipped inside an envelope by custom, something else emanates galore on the 10th day of Dashain festival. Generically, it is the wish for the receiver's growth and good.
Irrespective of whether you are big or small, prosperous or struggling, son or daughter, drinker or teetotaler, card playing or non-playing, left of centre or right of centre – you stand before your elders to receive tika on the eponymous day and the five days following it, receiving your share of blessings.
And blessings, while all of them might not be realistic or relevant to you, they are given in good faith, and you take them in good faith. You even swallow the ones you find totally uncalled or unsought for with the delicacies of the day.
The blessings get verbalised in different ways to different recipients. Two separate verses in Sanskrit – Ayu Dronasute and Jayanti Mangalakali – while rare nowadays, still get chanted for male and female respectively.
In essence, both of them are overladen with the names and virtues of various gods and goddesses for receivers of the blessings to emulate. And the mere mortals should be pardoned to think that it's way too much to ask for.
Not everyone can get through the full recitation, some even getting the tongue-twisting Sanskrit lexicons all jumbled up and wrong.
But then it's the intent more than the content of the blessing amidst this reverent mood that matters.
Be it delivered in high sounding and rhythmic Sanskritic verses, everyday vernacular or ones that border on command, it's intended to the receiver's well-being. Akin to the Pascal's wager on god question, one might be at no harm taking it.
The blessing chants, while always remaining under the big ambit of overall good for the blessed, also varies in its specificity with respect to both the giver and the receiver.
To infants and toddlers, words like thuli thuli bhaye,which could be interpreted as 'May you grow both in stature and size!', bhagyamani bhaye: Be fortunate! and nirogi bhaye: Be healthy! form a quintessential part of the Dashain blessing phraseology.
A school going kid or a college going teenager gets dherai padhe, bidwan bhaye: Study more! Become Erudite!
They would nevertheless be more enthused at that moment in anticipation of the hidden crisp bills coming their way. If there is anything like 'marriageable age', it becomes all the more prominent on this day! The blessing for one to get married soon is variously put in Nepali, ranging from straightforward to sarcastic-comical and an attempt at translating those would fall short of capturing the true effect. It would be in the lines of 'Settle down soon!' or 'It's about time so hopefully next time....' Many in this day and age would find that nonsensical, even preposterous, but it might still have been given in good faith. It is still in the repertoire of this writer's grandma.
The abundance and value of such blessings are such that they gravitate to more than one's immediate family and relatives. People, to partake of this, also drop by to an elder acquaintance held in high regard.
The sudden appearance of someone lesser known or the familiar ones who would have shown up after a long interval is also expected over the course of five subsequent days. In such an event, even if the specifics may not be known for the recipient to bless with accordingly, there is always that manle chitako pugos: 'May all your wish come true!' which works for every adult carrying various goals and aspirations in life.
The pace and vicissitude of one's life might not make it possible for one to come back to the same place in the subsequent years.
Yet, some of them give you a year ahead invitation to attend the following year's ceremony as well nonetheless saying yespaliko tika aangunko nimto and yet again the writer hazards to loosely translate the words in Nepali into 'This year's tika is next year's invite.' The iconic harbingers of this festival have become rare sights and are etched in the fondest memories of this scribe. Not that a lone and unchallenged kite is not sighted if one scours the sky.
Children this scribe teaches refer to Wikipedia to find out what linge ping is. For the uninitiated, it is a traditional swing made with 4 bamboos; one has to get on board, push oneself forthand shout out cha hui to feel its actual thrill.
Futile would be an attempt to explain to this scribe's PUBG smitten children the suspense, thrill and temptation of getting one's money doubled or tripled in a long forgotten dice game of langur burja.
Dashain blessings would be incomplete without some kite falls, some vigorous back and forth linge ping swings, some wins, some losses amidst the smell of ripening paddies wafting through.
Life gets monotonously busy round the year. It gets busy everywhere and for everybody.
Life has started becoming vexingly busy for people in this 'progressive age' too. Work places teem with people in full swing going about their business, hurrying up and down the stairs, printers print mechanically, meetings are held regularly, lunch gets taken pretty-much ordinarily.
Apart from the lucky few who get 'chiranjivi' and 'God bless you!' from the people around triggered by a sneeze, how much blessing do they get? Life gets busy for many round the year far-flung in the Gulf too and a lucky few get to return at this time of the year. So the blessings make things better for them? Tangibly no, but intangibly a resounding yes.
For those who celebrate then, the festival comes with a generous and magnanimous promise and supply of benedictions as they bask in this brief hiatus of leisure and merriment.
May the country get its share of blessings as well towards peace, prosperity and harmony!
Neupane teaches English at Kathmandu World School
A version of this article appears in the print on October 7, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.