Kathmandu always sounded more like a made-up land from a fairy tale to me than a real place. While touched and transformed by modern life, the old kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley still retain a mystical quality from once-upon-a-time. Most of the cities and towns in the valley are graced with centuries- old Newari architecture. There are temple cities, old town squares, and family houses that are filled with residents who go about their daily lives much as their ancestors did- walking to the local temple for prayers, buying vegetables from the humble stands along the street, and gathering to chat in small groups.
In the small hilltop town of Kirtipur, a celebration for the town’s temple deities brings people out in traditional Newari dress celebrating with processions of food, dance, and music. The women and girls carry colorful trays of food with both sweet and savory delicacies to be offered to the deities while the men take charge of the entertainment and heavy lifting. The narrow, winding streets of Kirtipur swell with crowds who walk along with the procession which snakes through the town and dissipates close to dusk. Most of Kathmandu and its surrounding municipalities are subject to scheduled blackouts to conserve electricity. After the celebration, the residents will go back to their homes without heat or light unless they might be lucky to be patched into a generator.