Dec 022016
 

Is it witchcraft or ancient healing knowledge? Have a glimpse of the mother shaman in action.

She is the only woman to have ever been accepted into the highest order of shamans in Nepal – and she was even selected for a trip recently to meet with other shamans in Africa. Her residence is inside Kathmandu valley, but she orginates from a Hill district where she learned her insights and skills from old village shamans. At her clinic, she receives locals as well as foreigners every day – and in this video, she prescribes remedies to a young mother and her baby. Is it “witchcraft” or ancient healing knowledge?! Well, watch to have a glimpse of a shaman’s craft, centuries old.

The video was shot by Arun Chalise at LocalNepalToday.

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Sep 022016
 

The Karorias - one of the last free-roaming hunting tribes of Nepal - come to central and eastern Terai every winter to hunt for birds, the way they have done it for centuries.

The Karorias are one of the last free-roaming hunting tribes of Nepal. It’s one of the least documented too – their history, traditions and way of life remain largely unknown. Were they to be settled and forced to give up their age-old livelihood as bird hunters in the wetlands and jungles along the India-Nepal border, few would ever have known about them in the first place! In fact, the Karorias may not exist a few years from now as a hunting tribe. Already banned from their old hunting grounds in India and forced to join modern-day developing society of “education” and “work”, their last refuge is in southern Nepal. Arun Chalise at LocalNepalToday had a chance to spend a day with them last November, and here’s a presentation of his unique footage. We hope to bring their full story to light in a near future – but until then, enjoy this rare glimpse of their tribal everyday life!

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Mar 052016
 

It still happens: two women who were tortured by a mob, accused of casting spells on villagers

It still happens: two women who were tortured by a mob, accused of casting spells on villagers

It’s hard to believe that witch burnings and child sacrifices still happen. But they do! It’s also true, though, that these occurrences are relatively rare – maybe they happen just once or twice a year, although some say numbers are higher. It’s indeed ages ago that witch burnings and child sacrifices were common parts of religious practices in South Asia in general. But this “dark side” to traditional beliefs is still alive today! Why write about it, though, if it’s rare, not to mention blood shivering to talk about? Well, we have chosen to make a note about it simply because it does exist! Here are a few recent examples. Continue reading »

Feb 182016
 

"It is our practice that child delivery takes place on a tuft of the babiyo grass". Raute women

“It is our practice that child delivery takes place on a tuft of the babiyo grass”. Raute women

Is it ok to give birth at home? Well, government policy is to ultimately make all women deliver at the hospital or at least the local health centre. But women of the Raute tribe, who’s striving to uphold a traditional nomadic lifestyle in the mid-Hill forests, insists on giving birth in nature. “It is our practice that child delivery takes place on a tuft of the babiyo grass”, says tribal head of the Rautes, Mahin Bahadur Shahi. “Hospitals or birthing centres are for people like you. For people like us living in the jungle, the delivery is on grass.” Lately, some women’s groups in Nepal have started to issue fines to “home-birthers” among their members – home delivery increases the risk of fatalities, they say. But the Raute women argue that birth in nature makes the children stronger – plus: it’s their culture! If they could give birth like that for centuries, why not now?

Read the full story here

Dec 132015
 

It takes dozens of hands plus a good amount of skill and experience to bring a typical electricity pole in a village to an upright position

How long time does it take to erect electricity poles in a village? Well, it depends in great part on whether the electricity department provides machinery and/or manpower. If they don’t, as is most often the case, it can take days, even weeks to connect a village. The electricity poles come in concrete or steel and are in either case extremely heavy – it typically takes dozens of hands plus a good amount of skill and experience to bring the poles up and standing. So, how is it done? Well, it varies – but watch this video (left) to see how villagers in Pahari village, Kavre, erected altogether three heavy electricity poles last September.

Aug 092015
 

Walking through devastated Khokani village

Walking carefully through devastated Khokana village

Kokhana village – dating back to the Malla period – remains deserted and lifeless. Located eight kilometres south of Kathmandu, it has become a ghost town. The houses that didn’t collapse in the earthquake are kept erect only by heavy timber beams, and most are so cracked that nobody from the so recently busy Newari community dares entering them. Continue reading »

Jun 132015
 
Longing for the pristine.

Longing for the pristine.

Imagine being on a hike along a seemingly pristine mountain trail, feeling light years away from the noise and smog of the city. Why did you go there? Well, not because you had to reach the market in town or the healthpost to see the doctor or buy medicine. No, you went there longing precisely for the pristine and isolated, hoping to connect with the silence of the mountains and feeling back in time to how Nepal once was. Then, unforgivingly, the roar of a truck breaks the silence and you are left in a cloud of warm dust and fumes as the heavy vehicle climbs on to the next bend. So much for pristine and isolated! Continue reading »

Feb 102015
 

Have you ever seen a short man-like creature, about two feet tall and furry in a big way – either black or white – and mostly active at night? Well, only few have. But ask older people around Kathmandu Valley, especially among the Newars, and someone will tell you they have. It’s a friendly creature but a shy one as well: the “kack”.

Remember Baba Papa? Well, a Kack looks a bit like him

Remember Baba Papa? Well, a Kack looks a bit like him

Kacks are to Newari folklore what trolls and elves are to the European heritage. They move about in forests and villages by stealth – shy as they are – and stay hidden most of the time. But sometimes they might approach you: they can hide in a heartbeat but they can also appear out of nowhere. So you might be lucky to see one – or unlucky, depending on what colour it has. If you encounter a black kack, better close your eyes. See a white one, on the other hand, and you’re in luck!

A white kack only means well – and seeing one brings good luck and happiness. We spoke to an elderly woman in Kathmandu who saw several kacks – all white ones. The closest encounter was with a quiet, furry fellow who came and sat on her lap! Many of those who’ve seen a kack will tell you how these “little people” would come and sit on the edge of their bed for a while, keeping them half amazed, half in shock the rest of the night. A white kack is friendly – but it can still be a bit scary. Continue reading »

Feb 102015
 

The valley which the Paharis had followed

The valley which the Paharis had followed

Once upon a time, some present-day VDCs were kingdoms of their own. In Saathi-ghar in Kavre, a two hour drive outside Kathmandu, the Paharis once ruled. Locals tell how these people of Terai origin had migrated up along the rivers long ago and finally settled in the forests on the ridge. Down below lay the fertile river valley – the one they had followed – and up on the higher ground, the Pahari king built his palace. Next to it, of course, his tribal priests built a temple. Continue reading »

Feb 102015
 

20130911-141102.jpgWe were sitting around the campfire one night in December, ten years ago, just two hours outside Kathmandu. Location: Saathi-ghar. It was a chill evening – there were no clouds – and the sky was glittering with stars. But more that that: a few satellites also crossed over.

Two boys had joined us at the campfire and pointed to one of the moving dots above: “Look, it’s here – a moving star!” The wife of the owner of the guesthouse came out to see it too. It was known that moving stars mostly crossed over before midnight and early in the morning. This one was early. Continue reading »

Feb 032015
 

Deep prayer: spiritual moments from the last Chaath festival.

The prayers at the Chaath festival are full of concentration and spiritual presence. Visit rivers in the Terai in October/November – or more precisely, from the 6th day of the month of Kartik – and you’ll immediately see and feel the ambience. After a short period of fasting and traditional rituals, Hindus travel to their river of worship, just like their forefathers have done for millenia, devoting themselves to full days of prayer. Indeed, no-one knows for sure how long back the Chaath festival goes, but many date it to pre-Vedic ages. Originating in the Janakpur area, it is a tradition of worshipping the Sun – the giver of all life – thanking for health and prosperity and praying for fortune and happiness in the year to come. It’s prayers of deep meaning. Watch it in the video above.

Dec 282014
 

Burning dolls to protect your brothers: Sama Chakeva in a Terai village.

The brother-sister festival at Tihar is only one of several others. In Maithili communities across the Terai, love between brothers and sisters is also celebrated at Sama Chakeva in commemoration of heroic acts of two mythic sieblings. Sama, a young daughter of the god Krishna, was once falsely accused of wrongdoings and punished by being turned into a bird. Her brother took fearless action out of love to his sister which finally brought Sama back to human form. This video captures a night’s rituals from a village outside Janakpur: watch as sisters gather to sing in worship of their brothers, burning clay dolls that symbolise enemies and evil spirits – all to protect their brothers in the year to come. It’s a happy and fun ritual – but also one of respect and love, and centuries old.

Dec 202014
 

Under a full moon in a remote village: women shamans in action.

This video is from a remote village East of Janakpur – at night on the last full moon of November – capturing moments of ancient Shaman rituals. Most of them women, the local Shamans are performing rituals celebrating the slaying of a demon ages ago. The nature of the rituals? Well, they are highly physical, imprinting a mix of fear and awe in the eyes of the locals. Watch the video below and it’ll be clear why: these women shamans are powerful! Also known as Kartik Poornima, the deeper meaning of the rituals is complex. But here’s the video: it’s “Shaman Night” under a full moon.

Mar 262013
 
Bagmati as it once was

Bagmati as it once was

It’s hard to say how it happened and who did it. In a way it’s everybody’s fault and so nobody’s fault in particular. It just turned out that way, didn’t it, as we came to enjoy more and more of what’s good for the country – progress, development, modernisation. You underwent change, Bagmati. Used plastic bags, rusty bicycle wheels, torn magazines, and all the pollutants invisible to the naked eye, are now travelling slowly with your current or taking rest along your tainted river banks. Old folks still remember the time when people from all parts of Kathmandu would long for you during the hot-season and come down to your chill flow for a bath or prayer before Continue reading »

Feb 242013
 

Ladies under the mid-say sun.If warm colours delight the soul, take a ride along Nepal’s local roads. In fact, even better, go for a walk and let it in! The view along many local roads can leave deep impressions, even if you’ve already been there. Go during the low afternoon sun and the colours can stand out golden and sharp. Deep red dresses make women seem ablaze as they stroll by perhaps on their way to the next village; sweaty rickshaw drivers reveal another corner of the road-side colour palette as they pedal along zig-zag’ing to avoid the next hazardous pothole, their relaxed passengers leaning back in their decorated three-wheelers. Or take the occasional long-distance truck which is usually painted too – with symbols and ornamentations holy to the highway men. The Continue reading »

Feb 242013
 

photo3The number of hours spent by Danish children in front of the TV or computer, or playing with the i-Pad or mobile phone, was reported by the news the other day. It was really a lot. To tell the truth, I was not entirely unaware of the substantial amount of time kids in Denmark – my home country – devote to playing with these devices. Last week, I was at a seven-year birthday party, and while the kids did stay at the table for chocolate and birthday cake, they soon afterwards bunkered down in front of the TV where they played x-box games on-line, presumably with Continue reading »

Feb 162013
 
Longing for the pristine.

Longing for the pristine.

Imagine being on a hike along a seemingly pristine mountain trail, feeling light years away from the noise and smog of the city. Why did you go there? Well, not because you had to reach the market in town or the healthpost to see the doctor or buy medicine. No, you went there longing precisely for the pristine and isolated, hoping to connect with the silence of the mountains and feeling back in time to how Nepal once was. Then, unforgivingly, the roar of a truck breaks the silence and you are left in a cloud of warm dust and fumes as the heavy vehicle climbs on to the next bend. So much for pristine and isolated! Well, it’s long-since a fact: the visitor Continue reading »