October 26, Laxmi Puja
The third day is the most important day of the festival. It is called ‘Laxmi puja’, The day when we worship goddess of wealth. On this day, early in the morning the cow is worshipped. Tika is put on her head and a garland around her neck then she feasts with delicious food. A cow also symbolises wealth and she is the most holy animal for Hindus. Cow is the national animal of Nepal.
Offerings to the goddess
In the evening goddess laxmi is worshipped. Days before the house are cleansed and decorated. For goddess likes clean and tidy places. In the evening a small portion of the house out side the main door is painted red with red mud and an oil lamp is lit on it. A pathway is made from here to the place where the old money box and valuables are kept in the house that is the puja room. All the Nepalese have a box where from generation to generation money is put every year worshipping goddess laxmi. This money is never used unless extreme emergency. The entire house is decorated with lit oil lamps in every doors and windows. Laxmi, goddess of wealth is worshipped performing the traditional rituals and when the rituals are over then gambling in the house starts. This is a festival when gambling is not illegal. On this day throughout the evening groups of girls come to houses singing song of praise of the goddess and they are taken as guests and given gifts. This day the entire place is lively through out the night. It is so peaceful here. There is something about the energy here that is hard to describe.
After breakfast, we headed off for our visit to Dadagaun Village. This village was about a half hour drive from our lodge. The project is an education support program established in May 2010 by Christine and Kurt Marschner and Tony and Raewyn Morgan. As Austrailans enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, they decided to adopt Dadagaun and offer assistance and support to this poorly funded school. The school only goes until 7th grade. A questionnaire was written by the school principal, Steve, and others for us to use. We visited about 20 families in the village to collect data to determine what the villager would like for their village. We broke into two teams and each team had a translator.
Principal and his daughter
We began our time by visiting the Principal and meeting his family. He translated for Carolyn and Mozella. Neeru translated for Michelle and me. It is difficult to describe this experience. All of us were deeply moved by meeting these villagers and talking with them. One in particular moved both Neeru and me to tears. She is a 24 year old woman with a year old baby. She told us that she had cut her leg badly as she carried wood on her back through the woods. When we asked what she hoped for her child, she said,”I will do whatever I have to to make sure that she could go to school.” When asked what she would like for herself. She explained that she loved school and stopped when she was 12 years old because her sister got married and she had to stay home to take care of her parents and work on the farm. Again, she said,”If I could have adult education, I would do what ever I needed to do to learn. I would like to learn to be a tailor.” Her sincerity and determination inspired me. As we continued our interviewing, I enjoyed seeing Neeru take more of a lead in asking questions and interacting too. We had lunch at a near by restaurant before returning to our lodge for another delicious afternoon. We have been so warmly and enthusiastically appreciated for our efforts.