February 24, 2011

Nepal Culture Club

It was our week to present at Culture Club and we decided to learn a little bit about Nepal since Hannah Jane needed to research it anyway for World Thinking Day with her girl scout troop.  It was, well, interesting.

Turns out that it's hard to separate out what the US hippies got from Nepal from what Nepal adopted from the US hippies.  There's still a street in the capital city called Freak Street where the  hippies got off of their magic buses to explore Nepal and try to learn ancient wisdom from the mountain people.  Lots of poverty, drugs, and peasant shirts.  Chicken or egg? 

The most interesting thing we learned was about Kumari, the living goddess of Nepal.  They actually believe that a goddess inhabits the bodies of 3 perfect girls at a time and they ARE the goddess on earth.  When the girl starts to menstruate, the goddess leaves her body and a new Kumari is chosen.  Sadly, the Kumaris are so isolated and uneducated that by the time their days of Kumari are over they are almost unable to function in society.  Few Kumaris every marry because a legend says that the man who marries a Kumari will die young.  Many activists are calling for an end to child Kumaris because their isolation is likened unto legal child abuse and slavery, with them being confined to the temple, not allowed to speak to visitors, rarely even allowed to walk, and then discarded with no skills or education.  But others there say that it would be the same as making God against the law.

So Hunter and I were hippies who invited all of our culture club friends to take a trip with us to Kathmandu to interview Kumari (Hannah Jane) and a rug salesman on Freak Street (Haven).  Hunter and I played a tambourine and a pan flute as we danced into the room.  Hunter gave each of his friends a flower and invited them on our little trip.  We peppered our trip with fun fact about literacy rates, the odd national flag, the even more odd national moto "Mother land is greater than heaven."

We made two traditional Nepalese dishes for our friends.  It was hard to find a food to take that anyone would actually want to eat.  There were lots of varieties of meat jello.  Gross!  Some curry, which I would like but the kids may not.  We settled on something called Chatamari which is like a pizza crust topped with honey, sugar, and then eggs.  Odd combination, but it was not at all bad.  Then we made a dish whose name I have already forgotten, that is simply yogurt, honey, and dried fruit. 

The kids all had fun dressing up.  It's the most Hunter has ever participated in a Culture Club presentation.  With the good discussions about human rights and the importance of education, Nepal ended up being quite a thought provoking country to study!

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