Splat! I felt something burst against my shoulder followed by giggling and the pounding of little footsteps against the pavement. A water balloon hit me within the first ten minutes of entering Bhaktapur. It was the day of the Navadurga Festival and all the children were running on the street. Being a white tourist makes me an automatic target of theirs.
I laughed and waved at the children, but realized that in order not to get soaked I was going to have to keep my eye out for traps.
Nick, Savannah, and I headed for Durbar Square where the main festivities were taking place. We turned down a small alleyway where we saw around fifteen boys, all under the age of twelve, sitting on the top of a wall eyeing us and giggling.
As we got closer we realized that we were about to head into a war zone of water balloons so we looked at each other and Nick said, “Run!” The three of us turned and began to run in the opposite direction. The boys jumped off the wall and began to chase us down the street yelling after us. Luckily, they eventually gave up. Smiling and laughing, the three of us stopped to catch our breath. There were no casualties and we managed to make it out unharmed and dry.
At Durbar Square, kids were running around, eating popsicles, and break-dancing in small circles. We got popsicles and snacks in the square when we heard the sound of tons of little kids screaming and running down the street.
We went to investigate and saw what the Navadurga festival is known for: a parade of people following around a masked man while all the young children yelled and ran away only to run back and repeat the cycle. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the masked man because he is the representation of a Hindu God so it is not respectful.
As we watched the festival many children walked over to me, asking me my name and where I was from followed by the inevitable question: “Candy? Chocolate? Biscuit? Money?” I did not come to the festival prepared with any of these things so I had to improvise, “No, but I have a camera.”
I repeatedly took out my camera, shot a couple of photos of the children, and then showed them the pictures. Many of them have never seen a photo of themselves so they love seeing the pictures. Once the sun began to set, I walked back to the Bhaktapur Guesthouse. As I headed out of Bhaktapur, it seemed that the whole town was in good spirits and the feeling was contagious. I couldn’t stop smiling.