Tag Archives: Jamara

Vijaya Dashami, Now Go Fly a Kite!

Today is the first day of the fifteen day holiday Dashain, one of the largest festivals of the year. It’s the day that jamara is planted, and when kids take fragile paper kites to the roof.

After Mamu’s morning puja in the prayer room at the top of the house she planted the family jamara seeds. She had explained last night that one of their neighbor’s used to work at the palace and would bring jamara back from the king, so for many years the family didn’t grow any, but they started again last year.

It has been busy in the house, with many people coming and going. Daddy has been busy handing out packets of invitations for visitors to take back to their section of the city and distribute out to people P’s family knows. Although the household is buzzing with activity, P and I have felt relatively lazy. We have been sitting around, chatting with visitors, sitting on the roof and watching all the activity in the neighborhood, and helping Daddy call and contact guests. This morning I helped Mamu chop onions, mushrooms and tomatoes for the noon time meal.

There has been a lot of rain, at least for a little while each day, but this morning was sunny and warm, while looking out the window P spotted several kites flying, and with a boyish enthusiasm declared that he wanted to fly kites as well. He started searching the house for spools of string and thin paper kites to take to the roof.

I remember a few years ago someone left a copy of The Kite Runner at our house, and P picked it up. He’s not usually a reader, I’ve teased him that he’s been reading the same Jarrod Diamond book for five years, but this book he quickly got into, putting it down every now and then to reminisce about flying kites in his own youth, fighting kites with neighborhood children from the roofs of other houses. Once the book transitioned from the main character living as a boy in Afghanistan and making and flying kites with his friend, to a young man living in America, P quickly lost interest and tossed it aside. He never did finished it.

So P dug through the cupboards until he found a spool of thick string and grinned, “this is very good string, from Lucknow.”  He was about to yell out to the man cutting the grass (by hand with a curved sickle knife) to ask if he could run to the market to buy some kites, but Daddy said there were some stacked above the suitcases in the bedroom. P reached up to grab them, and pulled them down, lifting a cloud of dust.

We went up to the roof, and found a spot between the drying laundry. P tied the string to the nicest looking kite and thrust it up into the air. There really wasn’t any wind, but P started pulling and twisting, sticking out his tongue and biting his lip with concentration. When the kite caught some air and lifted, P’s smile spread across his whole face, “I’ve still got it.”

P got the kite fairly high into the sky, and explained we could potentially fight with other kites that we saw floating above several other houses. He asked if I would like to try, and I took hold of the spool. I didn’t have it for more than thirty seconds before the kite started dropping and spinning out of control.

“What did I do wrong?” I asked, as P grabbed the kite back and tried to rescue it from its death spiral. “I tugged and pulled on the string like you did.”

“I guess it takes skill and practice.” P answered, a bit of pride shinning through his voice.

It took him a few moments to wind in the kite and get it under control, just as huge rain drops started to splatter on the roof indicating another shower was on its way.

P pulled in the kite, and I grabbed the others, and we helped to take the laundry in off the line before it was soaked.

Maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow.

Jamara Status…

So Dashain tikka is tomorrow. I think we will start the day by getting our household tikka from P (he’s the oldest), and then we will be having our regular tikka and party at S-di and M-dai’s place tomorrow afternoon.

and… I’m happy to report that our jamara planting was successful!

I have to admit, during my first post “planting the jamara,” I was a bit worried that nothing was going to grow and I’d have to admit defeat to the internet community. On day three I was quite encouraged to see the jamara seedlings peeking up into the air. However on day 9 (today!), it is amazing to see how fast it has grown!


Top view



Side view


So it is ready to be used for tikka tomorrow! Hurray!

P’s brother U is coming up from Philadelphia, and we chatted online with family earlier today. Good times for Dashain! Best wishes to all…

The Jamara is Growing!

When I checked out my jamara this evening I was excited to see the little yellow shoots popping up! I was so excited I ran in to the room with my jamara planter while P was talking to his parents on skype, and I showed them the progress on the webcam. His mom and dad were impressed with their growth (“Wow, your jamara is beating ours!”) but then they started scolding, (“Don’t carry the jamara around the house! Leave it growing until the last day of Dashain! Put it back!”)

So I wanted to share the progress… :)


Planting the Jamara (in pictures)

So, little did I know that traditionally men are in charge of the jamara planting ritual, but I took charge of our planting tonight, since I seemed to be most excited. Hopefully I didn’t commit some terrible taboo. First I took a shower to “purify” myself and then started the planting.

So what did I do?

Step one: Soaked the jamara seeds. You are supposed to soak them overnight, but I only soaked then for about 20 mins. My housemates said that was okay, hopefully it won’t disturb my jamara growing process…

Step two: Gathered materials… jamara seeds, container for the plants, and sand.

Step three: Filled the bottom of the container with sand

Step four: sprinkled jamara seeds in a single layer on top

Step five: covered with a thin layer of sand

Step six: Watered generously

Step seven: covered and stored in a dark place (the seeds grow better when moist and dark)

Step eight: water when necessary. Jamara should be moist but not swamped.

The plants are supposed to look yellowish green not green-green… so hopefully I start to see shoots soon.

I hope my little seeds grow. I’ll let you know what they look like in ten days!

Ghatasthapana and Jamara

Friday is Ghatasthapana, the first day of the ten day festival of Dashain. One of the activities on Ghatasthapana (as I just learned last year) is planting jamara or barley grass.

Having just learned about this custom last year, while watching S’s father plant the jamara seeds on the first day of Dashain, I made a mental note to look for jamara and try it out myself.

So a few days ago P and I went to the local Indian grocery store where packets of jamara seeds were on sale.

Last night we were video chatting with P’s family, and his mom and dad were giving him some tips on growing jamara. Later P found a nice article in the Nepali online journal Republica which gives step by step instructions.

Check out the 5 easy steps HERE.

I think we will do it tonight since I go to work early in the morning and the seeds are supposed to be planted in the morning. I’ll let you know how the jamara planting goes…


Jamara grown and ready for the Dashain tikka ceremony