Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday roadblock

This morning there were activities at school we were going to attend and Jeremiah went ahead while I got ready.  He sent me a text not long after saying "bring a bunch of 5 rupee notes to pay the road stop string kids".  Some friends warned us that soon this would happen.  I found all the 5 notes we had, shoved them in my pocket and off I went thinking I'd only have to pay a few kids off.  I turned up our shortcut to school and found 10 kids with 4 sets of ropes in succession with big smiles on their faces.  I handed out money and they let me pass.  A little further up on the road there was another rope, and again I paid them.  The last block I had to talk my way out of since I'd run out of small bills.

I googled why they do this and found today is Shivaratri, a Hindu festival of the god Shiva - there is a good description of the festival over at The Longest Way Home.  I read here that:
“It used to be very cold during Shivaratri before and people, who fasted and awoke all night worshipping Shiva, blocked roads asking for firewood to keep themselves warm through the night with bonfire (samidha). With time, kids started blocking roads asking for money,” shared Madan Kumar Rijal, Associate Professor of Culture at Tribhuvan University.

I've only got a few small bills left and have to go back to school later, I'm hoping the kids will have gotten tired of standing outside and given up for the day!

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