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All Around This World South and Central Asia (Nepal)
Most Westerners think of Nepal as a Himalayan paradise, home to Sagarmatha (okay, we know it as Mt. Everest) and sure-footed Sherpas. Do we consider the country a refuge of freaky hippies or a haven for budget-travelers? How about as place to go to cleanse the soul? Nepal is all of those things, but it's also a linguistically and ethnically complicated nation, undergoing historic political change while facing the challenge of substantial poverty. It's also a deeply spiritual land -- both the birthplace of Buddha and the only officially Hindu nation in the least until 2006 when, facing political pressure, the country formally became secular. In 2008 after more than a decade of Maoist rebellion and massive popular protests, King Gyanendra abdicated, ending 240 years of Nepalese monarchy. Despite this turmoil, mountain climbers, hippies and the spiritual travelers from all over the world still come. Many -- Western visitors and Nepalese alike, no matter what its earthly problems, will continue to consider Nepal as paradise on earth

In class this week we sing:

We start every All Around This World class by singing "We Are Happy," a welcome song from Uganda. This week we greet each other by singing, Nepali, "Namaskaar." 

"Diwali Aayee" is a song about Diwali, the Hindu "Festival of Lights," which is awesome holiday full of food, fireworks and fun. Everyone loves it, hence the chorus: "Diwali aayee, Diwali aayee, everybody loves Diwali...." (More.)

"Naanu Bathene" is an Indian folk song in the language Kannada about a boy who goes to the fair with his friends and his animals. (More.)    

"Pahan Chunariya" is an Indian "rag"a celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, found on the Smithsonian Folkways "Ragas: Songs of India," performed by The Balakrishna of Travancor. (More.)

"Basant" is a Nepali wedding song that celebrates basant, a South Asian festival celebrating spring, which is a popular time to get married. (More.)


This week we sing the song “Basant,” which celebrates the wedding of our friend Fedima. The celebration takes place during the holiday “Vasant Panchami,” a Hindu springtime festival of knowledge, renewal and joy. Whether during Basant your family celebrates Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning and the arts, or Kama, the Hindu god of love, you should definitely mark the holiday by wearing yellow, the color of nature and the joy of life, offering yellow flowers to the gods and goddesses. As on every holiday, everywhere, you should also take advantage of the festival to EAT.  What's on the table? Ruchiskitchen's Basant recipe page suggests Angoori Rasgulla – “soft and spongy cottage cheese dumplings cooked in sugar syrup,” Urad Dal Ki Pinni – “a decadent Punjabi sweet,” and Karah Prasad – “a rich and delicious dessert (prasad) prepared with wheat flour, sugar and ghee.”   


Have a great week,