Mob of children in Janakpur

2012-01 Saraswati: The Goddess Of Letters, Strings (And More) & New arrivals?

Following a week of strikes we have shipped upon a festival period with a holidays on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (today). I’m not sure about the celebration on Sunday but today’s celebration reveres Martrys who died during the establishment of democracy in Nepal in the recent past…. But really the main focus of this weekend is to celebrate the Goddess of education which happened on Saturday… Huge investment has been made by the citizens of Janakpur in creating multiple small shrines across the city many of which had been blaring out ridiculously large amounts of Bollywood music at maximum decibel level throughout the day and night. Only now are people beginning to recover from this holiday hangover.

I’ve got a few recordings which I will upload in time which really articulate the hideous nature of some of this noise. Coupled with the almost nightly inter-street-dog savagery – listening from my window it literally sounds as if they are tearing each other apart – this is made for a series of disturbing nights for me these past few days. The merciless regimen of hourly outbreaks has really disturbed me and I’d imagine everyone else in the city. Nonetheless I have been getting more sleep than London so I cannot complain (although it may be argued that I am working harder? – Not sure – either way despite the chaos it is 1/5 is stressful as being back in the Big Smoke). I dont have to put up with Sawmill snoring or supermax TV volume back in the UK however.

Delan and I were discussing cultural aspects of noise pollution. As far as we can determine there doesn’t seem to be the same level of concern for others when it comes to music. Suzanne chipped in as a warden in student halls she always had trouble with loud music complaints from students from the subcontinent. Culturally It is entirely acceptable to play loud music in the company of other people who have not expressed any desire to share in your experience. Herkening back – A classic example of this was in from Pachmari, India where my friend Adam Byrne and I had taken a hike to escape the chaos of the town which for two days of the year (the two days we were staying) becomes a Festival (which mean Landrover) Hub and the local population doubles in size. We reached the top of Pachmari hill and began gazing on the incredible panorama before us… and suddenly out of nowhere a young boy turned up with his phone and started playing loud music to his phone – completely spoiling the atmosphere and the magic of the view we were experiencing.

Noisy Boy - Pachmari
You can’t escape the noise – even if you try in Indai
Pachmari HIll Viewpoint
When the boy left Adam and I were able to enjoy the Epic view we’d climbed for!

START RANT Festival side I don’t see the value in such indiscriminate use of volume upper on your oversized Sound system when really the only person you are seemingly entertaining is yourself stop when it’s also 4 AM and I’m having to visit the bathroom once every 5 min because I’ve got gastroenteritis from violent and malicious local bacteria or viruses which I have only come into possession of a result of poor hygiene of everyone (effectively including myself as well as frequently there is no running water when it comes time to do it have a wash of les mains END RANT. I think it’s just a bit much sometimes to be constantly assaulted by noise. On the flip side Jonathan’s very much enthused by the music… I guess having a short duration’s fine to sample but living here…

Mob of children in Janakpur
Walking into the bedecked schools I was mobbed each time. Thankfully my companion Sophiya kept the best of them at bay.

Anyway back the the matter in hand: On the day itself (Saturday) everyone rolled out their finest garb – as it was celebration of education children were everywhere abound on the streets, dressed to the nines. Each school had something of an open day, revolving around its shrine of the Goddess Saraswati. It turns out that nearly office there are something like 10 to 15 local schools so I went with Sophiya – a new recruit here, posted from Kathmandu who explained the local customs and helped stave off the insane mobbings that would occur anytime we entered a school. Together we transited all these different schools. Was quite interesting to see how some of them are put together for example the Einstein Public School, an impressively fronted establishment which really on the backside is just one single classroom and a large space in which to accommodate children outside within a retaining wall. Apparently the classes rotate from early in the morning sessions to mid morning to late morning sessions, meaning that the school is run in two batches. We paid our respects to the Goddess and each of the schools and were offered by attendees a small gift of sweet things to take away. I got daubed with red on my forehead which mustered bemused Jonathan when he met me off of his flight from Kathmandu.

Saraswati: Goddess of Education

The positivity of the day extended into the night with many people partying onwards. Sunday was deadly quiet in comparison – with no music overnight and a sense of “bank holiday” in the morning as we were rolling out to prepare for the study day.

Suzanne recently discovered that the shrine which I have been observing being steadily built on “Barhabigha”, the vast open public ground which serves many functions including religious prayer site, back gardens of the hospital, cricket ground, volleyball pitch and local bus parking stand, is due to culminate in attendance of approximately 1,000,000 people in the city on 7 February….this seems rather insane and I must admit that I’m somewhat acceptable about this number… But even a 10% representation of this group means a hell of a lot of new arrivals in the city. I better clean off my memory cards and make sure that I spent some time down on the ground that this is indeed the case … the thing is that I would I genuinely not be surprised if it did happen . I guess I will be reporting soon on this!

1 million expected for Festival in Janakpur
There are supposed to be around 1.000.000 people coming to Janakpur to celebrate a large festival on Barhabigha

2 thoughts on “2012-01 Saraswati: The Goddess Of Letters, Strings (And More) & New arrivals?”

  1. Not certain if my source was entirely accurate with the 0’s for the audience estimate, but it certainly looks set to be quite an occasion! The festival will be promoting world peace and is organised by the devout group who have their permanent camp in Barhabigha. The group broadcast haunting atonal music – best enjoyed when the mist is settled over the camp at dawn.

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    1. I would be quite surprised if over 3 times the population of the city turns up on the day! Still if they’re coming mainly from India it is at least entirely possible…
      We will see.

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