Pancha Kanya - a group of five girls

Sunita Giri 11:08 PM |

Panchakanya is a group of five virgin girls who have not gone through the phase of monthly period cycle. They are regarded very auspicious to start any ceremony in Hindu tradition. Indeed, this believe comes from the hindu religion, according to which five is very auspicious number. There fore, people do take time to select the most beautiful young girls only, mostly under the age of ten.

The person who are in charge of the panchakanya takes very good care of this project and does every effort to make sure the girls are best looking. Not just good looking but they must have cheerful look also, at least the senior most housemother Kedar Shrestha, who was the in-charge of this picking up girls and then giving them full makeups along with proper dress ups and then preparing them for the big day. She had done this work for more than twenty years during her tenure in Bal Mandir. The five girls were selected for the ceremony not just based on the look only the other quality was also needed like  the winner of little beauty peasant long before the concept of little angel's or the princess pageants took place in my country. If can say so, panchakanya are the early version of such beauty peasants. They have to be well groomed and well dressed with the best of the manners.

For the occasion, they are given the best makeup to look even more prettier for the ceremony and they are dressed equally beautifully and mostly the color of the dress is red or pink to add more charm to the beauty of little girls. No wonder, they look like real angel, so not surprisingly they are most of the time, main attraction of the any big ceremony also. Kedar Shrestha, the housemother, was very careful to pick up young girls for her this small annual projects. She made sure they were well behaved girls with best of the manners not just in front of the royals but also when they were not around the royals or seniors. Oh yes, one of the much needed quality among the girls was, who can hold the pee for couple of hours without crying.  

One time I was also one of the girl in a group of five. It was my first time to be in the group of panchakanya. I never was the choice of house mother to be in this group. You guessed it right, I was not that beautiful child to be in that team of beautiful girls gang.

However, I was really happy that I too was part of a beautiful girl’s gang but the truth only known to the housemother. Did I forget it now, that one of the regular girl was sick or had some wounds in her body which filtered her from that years queen's birthday  ceremony ? Lets not go in that area and let me think and enjoy at this moment that there was a time I too was one of the hand picked girl of this groups. So, after all the makeup and dress up we were taken to the royal palace.

There was queen standing in front of the royal palace, ready to welcome all the visitors who used to come there to wish her on her birthday. We were escorted to her by the housemother, Kedar Shrestha, which she had done may be hundreds of times before and this was one work she could do even in her sleep. There was a small table in front of the queen, which must have been kept there to keep flowers and the gifts she receives from the visiting people. Panchakanya offers her mostly flowers only and it is one of the first thing she gets before she receive anyone on that day.

When a girl on the front row tried to offer her flower to the queen, she could not reach her easily to handover the flowers, so what the girl did was, put her right feet on the front table and then offered her the flower, the next girl copied the first girl. At that time, I was maybe on fourth or in fifth girl in that row of five girls and I too ended up making the same mistake as made by the first girl. When I reach at the front of the queen she had even pulled me slightly and shook me holding my arms not to put my legs on the side of a table. However, all the five girls made the same mistake that day.  

At this very moment the queen Aaishwarya did not say a word, because the mistake was made by a small girls, but as an in-charge of the Bal Mandir, Kedar Shrestha was nervous and she was trying to prevent us the next girl and the next girl not to make the same mistake which the first girl have made innocently. In my vague memory, I think there was a smile on the face of queen and a nervous smile on the face of housemother. I think that nervous smile was the feel of relief also.

When I look back and try to understand now, why she was so nervous about so small mistake - to my small world it was a small mistake. Why she was preventing young and innocent girls not to repeat the mistake again and again what's so big deal about it ? Its bit easy answer indeed, first she was unbelievably polite to us and we were too young to understand why. She was polite because, we were in front of the queen who was in front of the palace. Second, we were not used to of getting the ‘hints’ from such polite form of requesting. In Bal Mandir people just screamed up from the lungs to make us understand, if they wanted us to hear them. It was very rare, people made a point to make us hear them; without raising a voice.

But more than that, what is more important for me to understand now was that we were one of the very first to see queen and its believed when the starting is good the day will be good and when its bad the day will be bad and with the panchakanya some people also tagged the good and bad thing as its also the part from the hindu religion. So, it sure has to be the concept of, start great so that the ending will be great.  Sometimes there are people who believe in small small things rather than big things and that plays a big role in whole matter may be that is the reason the housemother was nervous and was trying her level best to stop us but we were  just too young to understand the superstition that adult hold in their mind and just ended up making the small and innocent mistake that made a huge difference in the mind of adults.
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The Cucumber Thief

Sunita Giri 10:32 PM |

Like most of the boys in their preteen and teen years Gyan Bahadur was also one of them to get the opportunity to have his own small garden in Bal Mandir. When I look back and try to understand the meaning of this one small garden part, which the management took was one of the best; to keep young and overactive boys on their own work and give them something to take responsibility in their life .

Mostly boys used to grow flowers in their garden. The kind of flowers they like and they were the boss where to get those flowers and free to take the decision. But, the small plot also used to provide them enough space to grow some vegetables and some edibles like sugarcane which was one of the choice by boys. Some boys used to grow some instant vegetables which they can eat it once they pluck from the garden most of them used to be salad materials like radish or cucumber. Some boys like growing chilli or garlic also, maybe they wanted to have it with meal and without fearing the scolding from housemothers or nannies blaming them you stole it.

Once Gan Bahadur tried his hand on cucumber, like other boys and that was a good year for growing cucumber. He must have had a ball with his growing and of all that he was saving one to grow it bigger and only he knew, what he had in his head about it growing that big. That juicy cucumber was above our head and we used to see it every time we pass from his garden to go to the school and return from the school so he was quite sure that no one will steal it from that height. It seems that in his youth he forgot that there were plenty of other young child who really wanted to take the challenge, that cucumber posing on them, “come on pick me up, I am juicy and tasty.”

Agreed, not all will take that challenge from cucumber, but it was just way too much for our chirpy and naughty girl, Junkiri and her gang. She made a plan with her friends to pick it up one night as it was not the work of broad daylight work because Gyan Bahadur was her best friend who was in her class and she did not wanted him to know that person who stole his big cucumber is none other than but his best friend.

So one night Junkiri went to the kitchen garden area where that juicy and succulent cucumber was calling her. She was there with her two best friends, Parbati and Ishowary. Parbati took her on her shoulder and then Ishwor handed her the big stick, so that she can aim the cucumber in the dark and hit it to fall from the climer that was hanging over her head. As Junkiri told us later it was not easy to do so, because it was dark and there was nothing to hold hands on to hit it properly. Anyway after some time of hitting and struggle they got their biggest prize and then ran away with it; eat it in a way no one know it; who were in that stealing binge. This story would have ended just like that like so many other stories in Bal Mandir, if Junkiri had not been a  close friends of Gyan Bahadur.

The next day when Gyane - as she used to call him - saw there was no cucumber, he lost his temper and he was really famous for thin patience.  He started calling names to one of the housemother and used all kinds of words, he knew to curse her.

Why he cursed the housemother Sabitri Basnyat, because one day she has remarked that, “Gyane, your cumber is really growing fast and its time to eat it.” She must have meant that, “either you eat it or somebody else will.”  Obviously, Gyan Bahadur took it otherwise and  doubted that its the housemother who stole his cucumber. Coincidently, Junkiri was there when he cursed her heavily, and calling her all kind of names including some long curse like, ‘she must suffer from the severe diarrhoea with indigestion, because she stole it and its my hard work and I must get a chance to hear that she suffered from severe diarrhea.

When we were young and growing up in Bal Mandir we used to face lots of humiliation and insult and as we found ourself helpless to face such condition to let our anger go out from what we felt; all we have to do was to indulge in curse. And the curse used to be really ugly and filthy, having no limits to it; and that was the only thing that pacified or burning hurt emotions. We were not trained to face the people to defend ourselves nor I have got any opportunity to observe anyone who knew how to face such situation with more civilized manner. Honestly speaking, at that age; I was not even acquainted with the word defending ourselves, if we find ourselves in such a condition. But see here Gyan Bahadur was guessing   only who had stole it but at that same time, he was dead sure that his guesswork was right. The only thing is that the real thief was just in front of him to listen and hearing his all ranting to the imaginary thief.

So, hearing all that, the psychology of Junkiri started worsening in strange way. She really felt uneasy with that kind heavy of cruising. As Ishwori and Parvati was watching her, Junkiri really felt pukey and uneasy in her stomach. Suddenly, she started defending Sabitri Dijju - the imaginary thief - and told him softly not to curse her; saying maybe she is not the one.This fueled the anger of Gyan Bahadur, who to my knowledge had one of the worst temper tantrum. Had it been boys or girls he would have fought with them that it sure would have been ugly fight. But because it was housemother and she was on of the most notorious in her behavior and treatment with us so all he could do to calm his anger was by cursing her heavily.

Junkiri is one of the most drama queen in my friend circle and if she can make nice face  when she turns into Gyan Bahadur, she at the same time she time she can give her worst look to Parvati and Ishwori to read her condition. She can do anything to get the attention but when she is in real trouble her friend can read her. So her two face at one time was what amusing and confusing both the girls.  After sometime they left Gyan Bahadur and went to their way where they laugh and  laugh for being able to fool him at the same time not being in the radar of suspect of the cucumber theif.

See Junkiri is my most talkative childhood friend and she loves talking to the extent that she enjoys telling me that so and so friend had visited her and before she could speak she had something else to say to stop her from talking. No doubt she is such a good time pass and I must have told you before in many of my blog post,  I would rather prefer to have my time spent with her than going out for a Hindi movie in a hall. Yeah, sometimes you really have to listen her even though you know she is blowing things way up to get your attention and keep glued to what she is telling you. She will really do everything to like her talk, keep you glued and get the full attention. sometimes all you need to do is to filter a bit or maybe a little more than you really want to filter it, the way she serve us her story. But, every time I tell her you are blowing it way too much she simply ask me do you like boil potato or chili potato with well seasoned ? She knows is before I answer the question, I prefer the second option.

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