Mineral School Artist Residency

Mineral School Artist Residency
Daydreamer's Journal – installation at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Newari New Year

Saturday was a wonderful day of celebrating Newari New Year and Deepawaly, festivals of Nepal. We are exceptionally lucky to have Shweta and Pratistha so close to us and so inviting to share their festival time. Here they are with Shannon, a close friend of Pam's who was able to celebrate with us.

This is our second time to celebrate Newari New Year with Pratistha, and our first time with Shweta. This is a very festive time in Nepal, celebrated over many days, but we generally just celebrate on one day, though this year we started cooking the night before.

The party was held at Pam Didi's house in Seattle. Pam is my friend who has water development projects in Nepal through The Living Earth Institute (LEI). She was in the Peace Corps in Nepal and it is because if her that I know Pratistha and her family. Lucky Bill and I.

In Nepal, in Newari culture, each family has their own mandala design, or sometimes maybe the same design, but a different way of placing things in the mandala for prayers.

Two of our designs are traditional and specific, one for Shweta and one for Pratistha. They were drawn by Bill from photos their family's sent from Nepal and then cut out into a stencil. Bill used our geometry skills and tools to cut them out, very precisely.

Ground limestone is used in Nepal, but here we use ground rice dyed with tumeric, or last year we used powdered sugar.

Pratistha's mandala after stenciling.

We had a third design for us westerners, using the orbiting pattern of Venus as seen from Earth. It was appropriate to our geometry studies of late, so we thought it would be fun to put it in there.

Because this day is also for prayers to Lakshmi, Goddess of good fortune, it is the eldest woman of the house who does the prayers and blessing for all of us, mandalas God/Goddesses included. This falls to Pam, and a good thing, because she is so well versed in Nepali tradition and language and does a beautiful honoring of everyone.

Shweta was an elegant and beautiful overseer of the evening. Not only did she supervise much of the food, she helped make sure the prayers went as smoothly and properly as possible for a bunch of non-Nepalis. She also translated Pam's Nepali prayers into English so we all could follow along.

The food was amazing, and everyone had a really good time. Thank you everyone for your contributions of food, prayers, and presence.

We wish you all a very happy Newari New Year! Bill and I always feel so very fortunate to cross cultures and meet new friends. Thank you Pam for hosting this beautiful event!