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Raj and Friends    Pashupatinath      Patan & Nagarjun    Bakhtipur    Kathmandu
Rajendra Singh Khadkha at Mike's Breakfast, a popular cafe and art gallery near the Royal Palace in Kathmandu.

Raj recently returned to Kathmandu after many years living in Berkeley, California. A classmate of my brother John's in college, over the years he has became close to all our family, like another brother.


Raj's mother Madhu Singh in the living room of her home in Old Baneshwar.

I had been the guest of the Singhs once before, in 1985. Raj was in the U.S., so Madhu and the late Vishnu Singh graciously showed me around the valley.

When Vishnu and Madhu built their large three-story house in the 1960s, Baneshwar was a suburban village surrounded by rice paddies. The paddies are gone, replaced with the urban sprawl of the growing city.

Ram Tharu in the Singh kitchen, Old Baneshwar.

A young boy from Lumbini, the Singh's ancestral home in southwestern Nepal (and birthplace of Gautama Buddha), Ram has come to Kathmandu to work as a servant and get an education.

Madhu giving me the tikka blessing during the Dasain festival.

Dasain is a week-long celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Some of its many family-oriented traditions are reminiscent of the Western Christmas

After repeatedly exchanging tikka blessings with family members and other intimates during Dasain, many Nepalis walk around with huge clumps of rice and red powder on their foreheads. I wore mine for most of the rest of the day.

Elements Madhu and Raj used to give the tikka blessing to visiting friends and relatives during the Dasain festival.
Raj Karki, a friend of Raj Khadka's from school, hosting close friends and relatives in an evening of gambling, traditional during Dasain.

This game turns on how many cowrie shells dropped on the floor land facing up. Each of the possible combinations of "up" cowries is assigned to one of the four senior men. Younger men and boys bet on one of the four.

The women of the family sometimes watched from the doorway, but mostly busied themselves in the kitchen.

Every morning Madhu, devoutly religious, spends about half an hour praying at her personal shrine, sometimes ringing a small bell.

Raj undergoing a puja in a side building of the Singh family complex. At the urging of his mother and the family guru, he consulted a Hindu astrologer, who discovered a dangerous misalignment of planets influencing his luck.

To combat these noxious influences, the guru and two others visited the house and performed a three-hour ceremony involving continual chanting and the use of various sacred herbs and vessels. Raj himself, somewhat ambivalent about the process, participated for about an hour.

Madhu Singh at the doorway of her house, bidding me goodbye in early November with a gift of fruit and another tikka.
Raj and Friends    Pashupatinath      Patan & Nagarjun    Bakhtipur    Kathmandu

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