Saturday, September 13, 2014

Teej; Or, the Women's Men's Festival

Teej is also known as the women's festival: a day where, after gorging themselves on delicious food the night before, women fast and pray for the health and well-being of their husbands (or future husbands). It's an interesting day.

A few days into my time at my placement, my aamaa brought me to get fitted for a sari. I was shown many fabrics, but it was eventually decided (not by me) that I should get a fancy one. It was fairly expensive by Nepali terms, but still half the cost of a low-end prom dress. But after that, I still needed bangles--I had to settle for plastic, because my huge hands would shatter the traditional glass churra. And then shoes... After 8 pairs, we finally found a style in "massive American" size. I put my foot down on gaudy hairclips or beaded necklaces, but did purchase a bedazzled bindi (the dot that Hindu women wear between their eyebrows). 

I apologize to my male readers. There is a point to all this, I swear.

On Thursday morning, August 28, my aamaa requested that I get all dolled up, which meant putting on make-up for the first time in a month. Then, she locked me into my sari. A sari has three pieces: a boring petticoat, a more exciting belly-baring blouse, and about 5 or 6 meters of embroidered, heavy fabric. That is not an elaboration. 

It was a day of many firsts. My first rides in Nepali buses, minibuses, and electric tuk-tuks, for example. And my first chance to flash my embassy badge to gain free access for my first visit to Patan's Durbar Square.

My aamaa and her sister took me to a Nepali film starring Shree Krishna Shrestha, who tragically passed away around the time of the film's release. The movie was 3 hours long, and had an honest-to-God intermission. It was entirely in Nepali, but I appreciated the song/dance breaks. I also appreciated the fact that we got three large popcorns, sodas, and a water bottle for less than the cost of one American film ticket.

The day was not without its oddities. My sari had to be readjusted every hour. And I was stared at by almost every single person I passed--especially by men, who shouted comments that my bai (little brother) refused to translate. For a large part of the day, I ignored then. 

But then I realized staring them down was much more fun.

At the end of the day, I had lost most of the sequins from my shoes, but I gained two things: a pote (glass bead) necklace from my aamaa, meant to be worn by married women, and a lovely set of blisters.

That's what I get for walking through Kathmandu in 600 rupee shoes.

My aamaa and I in Patan's Durbar Square.

Some elephant statues that are really, really old.

Everyone in their Teej finery.

People gathered for a dance performance.

My glamour shot.

Notice the significant height difference? There's a reason I can't find shoes in my size.

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