For Deepa Shree Niraula, it is always pleasant to remember her childhood and youthful days during the festivals. Remembering even the smallest of things of that time brings her joy.
The Chhakka Panja director shares how she always longs for the festival to spend time with her three sisters. During every Tihar festival, they used to be happy. The house used to be lit with ample lights as they would go play Deusi-Bhailo with friends.
In fact, for Deepa Shree Niraula, every moment of Tihar would be interesting and fun to remember today. Why? She shares with you here.
Longing for a brother
But, the four sisters would always yearn for a brother during the festival thinking how much fun it would be and would always pester their mother for a brother. And finally, they got a brother and were very happy.
Before they got a brother though, they used to celebrate Bhaitika with some other relatives. But, not having their own brother always felt very bad.
When Deepa Shree Niraula and her sisters got their brother, they would take turns holding their young brother in their laps whilst putting tika on his forehead. “We would put a garland of cloves and dubo (Bermuda grass) so that like the two, our brother would never perish and be immortal.”
During childhood, they used to celebrate Tihar with great fun. But when their only brother went abroad for studies, for seven years, their festivals turned a bit dull, in comparison. “We missed him very much that time.”
Everything about her childhood feels special to her; Deepa Shree Niraula especially remembers playing Deusi-Bhailo with friends. “Since I was young, my sisters would not take me along with them to play Deusi-Bhailo. So I used to gather friends of their age group and go for it. Today, I really miss those friends though I do talk to them sometimes.”
“But, that has not been possible.”
Talking more about her childhood days, she adds, “At that time, Deusi could be played even late at night. If it was too late and parents scolded us, we used to convince them by telling them that we can earn money so they should let us go.”
Though it was customary for girls to go to play Bhailo only on the night of Gai Tihar or the third day of Tihar, Deepa Shree Niraula shares that she enjoyed going for Deusi on the next day as well. She remembers how her male peers would say they should not go to play Deusi. “But, we used to protest and point out how they play more than one day and earn more money than us.”
For Bhailo, their mother used to adorn them in chaubandi cholo, sari, lipstick, and tika. And they would fight over who would take the lead as that person would get more money. While playing Deusi-Bhailo, they used to get sel roti and anarsa (a kind of sweet) so they would eat them and play till late.
And for anything they got, it was customary for them to divide the collected goods. Sometimes, the friends would offer to take either rice, or sel roti and others would take fruits.
Memories of the mischief
Deepa Shree Niraula shares that the preparations for Deusi-Bhailo started a week before Tihar. “My mother used to chant Deusi-Bhailo phrases well and we used to ask her to teach us, so we followed her carrying a pen and a piece of paper to teach her. And, we used to practise our dancing too.”
Being the second largest city after Kathmandu, there were many neighbourhoods in Biratnagar already then. She shares, “After playing Deusi in our own neighbourhood, we used to go to other places to play. We used to say that the bigger houses paid more money so we used to go there.”
With the money they collected from Deusi-Bhailo, Deepa Shree Niraula would go to watch films with her friends, by rickshaws.
But, she remembers that some houses would not give them money at all. At that time, they used to get very angry and hence curse them and leave.
“If they did not give us money, we used to say ‘chhanamathi ghiraula, yo gharko manchhe sabai esai barsha maraunlaa’ (gourd on the roof, this year, wish all people of this house would die). And when we went to a house and people did not come out, we would turn off the burning diyos (butter lamps) and walk away from there.”
“Or we would mess up the bamboo poles on which they had put banana leaves and decorated the surroundings,” Deepa Shree Niraula shares.
“And if they were late in giving the money, we would peek through the door to see what they were doing. I laugh at all that when I remember those days now.”
A nostalgic Niraula also adds, “We used to run out from some houses because they would leave their dog loose.”
But, when she used to dance a lot, many houses even gave them money after seeing them dance. “At that time, I felt thrilled and joyful,” shares Deepa Shree Niraula.
This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.