11 - 24 October 2013 #677

The first day of Dasain

Jan Møller Hansen

Dasain is a time of generosity, sacrifice, puja, and family gatherings. It is also the time when children enjoy swinging on the ping, celebrations take place in homes and around temples. But not everybody might be in a festive mood.

On Ghatasthapana, the first day of Dasain, 12-year-old Prisanta Thapa Magar spent the entire day working on the garbage recycling site by the banks of the Bagmati in Teku. She cannot remember how many Dasains she has spent there. Elsewhere in Kathmandu’s underbelly, life goes on amidst the rubbish that the city has thrown away.

Below bridges gridlocked with holiday traffic, children play in the smouldering refuse. The carcasses of dead motorcycles litter the metal recycling shop, where everything is dismantled and sold for scrap. Work goes on despite Dasain.

In a nearby shrine, Parbati Tamang celebrates Dasain in her room full of deities in a temple courtyard. Her dream is to help orphaned children who have lived in the temple since the Maoist conflict. She is an orphan herself.


Jan Møller Hansen is a self-taught amd passionate photographer working with social documentary. He lived in Nepal from 1991-1995 and is back in the country working at the Embassy of Denmark in Kathmandu.