Every Nepali loves a good festival – that’s why we have so many each year. Just a day or two ago the Nepali calendar reached the special date of the 15th day of the month Ashad – this year the day fell on 30th of June, 2015. For Nepali people this means it is time for the Ropai Jatra festival – or National Rice Paddy Day.
Farming, and rice farming in particular, is vitally important to the nation of Nepal and the millions of rural households who depend upon the success of their annual rice crop. When the monsoon rains arrive over the terraced farms of Nepal it is time for farming families to get extremely busy preparing their fields and planting many millions of young rice seedlings. This is a period of very hard work, but as the planting campaign draws to its end it is the perfect time for farming families to relax, have some fun and wish the new crop well – and so the Ropai Jatra was born.
This year the festival has added significance for many people. The hardships created for many rural families by the April earthquake made preparing for rice planting season even more challenging and demanding. So a fun festival to celebrate the end of the rice planting season is just what everyone in rural Nepal needed.
Ropai Jatra 2015 has proven to be an even bigger celebration than in previous years. Our Langtang Ri team joined the celebration along with very many other people from cities, towns and villages across Nepal. It was a huge day and so much fun for everyone.
At our festival location there was a local Nepali band playing traditional music and folk songs. Everyone joined in singing songs as we waded through the squishy paddy field mud to plant our seedlings. Plus there were lots of traditional foods and festivities on the terrace sides.
Rice grows in mud, so you have to expect what will happen. During the annual Holi festival participants often get covered from head to foot in bright colourful paint powders. But in Ropai Jatra there is just one colour every participant goes home in – mud, mud, mud. Some of us are still extracting it from our ears two days later! But it is all part of the fun and celebration.
Ropai Jatra 2015 proved to be a fantastic festival and help lift the spirits of everyone from city or village alike. We hope to see you in Nepal for Ropai Jatra 2016. But even better, there are still dozens of other great Nepali festivals left to celebrate in 2015. We hope to see you there.