Recently, we celebrated Biswakarma, an annual festival where all the Hindus in Nepal do puja for anything mechanical. Nepalis are incredible at getting broken down things going again but there are occasional problems with things breaking down. Encouraging divine protection may not be a bad thing!
For days, men have been roaming the streets selling garlands of tinsel or flowers or ribbon so that owners of any vehicles – taxis, bikes, tempos, rickshaws, trucks, carts, chaat wagons or anything with wheels, can decorate them.
Vibrant pink fabric arches were erected in most towns (certainly nearly all the places between Dharan and Birtamod). Fantastic appliquéd tents housing the appropriate deities were set up in front of any business selling mechanical things. People were invited for chiya and sweets and to do puja in the tents.
In our office, Sharmila had transformed our chiya tray into a puja tray and was doing puja for all our mechanical things – the generator, the sewing machines, the oven and the water pump outside. Water, red colour, flowers and other offerings were placed before a holy image and clouds of incense filled the rooms which made a pleasant change from the petrol smell that wafts from the generator. She did take care to keep the burning incense away from the generator!
Everyone hoped this would ensure a year of ongoing mechanical efficiency. At the very least, it ensured a day of even more colour than usual.