Shubha Bala

Shubha Bala (Collective Campaign for Peace - COCAP): Shubha was born and brought up in Toronto, Canada. She completed her undergraduate studies in computer and electrical engineering at the University of Toronto. After graduation, she worked for three years as a business consultant in a software firm. At the time of her fellowship she was studying for her Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a focus on economic and political development, and media. After her fellowship, Shubha wrote: "In the development sector, I reminded myself of the practical limitations in achieving ones desired outcomes, and the need to work within the environment presented to you. I also re-observed that each country has unique limitations to be addressed. I gained huge insight into transitional justice issues, as well as the overall political climate in Nepal. I questioned the impact of donors and free labour from the West in developing countries that have traditionally been extremely donation and volunteer dependent."

Priest in goat’s clothing

28 Jun

Today’s unexpected adventure was a local Hindu temple. Just a 10
minute walk, it’s supposed to be the most beautiful Hindu temple in
the Baglung district (the capital of which has only about three roads
but possibly an ATM). Many things, we learn, can be deceiving in
Baglung. For example breakfast at my hotel:
Me: Do you have breakfast here?
Guy: Yes ma’am (hands me the menu)
Me after perusing my options: Porridge and milk please
Guy: Oh we don’t have that today
Me: Oh hm…how about the Indian breakfast?
Guy: Oh no. Not that either.
Me: Oh. Um. Well what do you have?
Guy: Simple breakfast (eggs and toast)
Me: Oh. I don’t eat eggs. Ok toast and chia (chai) then.
This repeated for a couple of days until I realized the menu was for
display purposes only. He still does hand me the menu every morning,
but I’m smart enough just to ask for toast. Similarly my bathroom has
a “hot” and “cold” knob for the showers, where the hot one is
apparently also for display purposes only.

So when I agreed to go for a nice walk to the Hindu temple and look at
some Gods for a few minutes, I should have realized my already
not-so-positive expectations of a Hindu temple would also be
shattered. On the gorgeous forest path just inside the temple
grounds, we passed a family with two small children and a goat.
Yogendra said “ah they are cutting that”. “Cutting…what?”.
“Goat…cutting, yes?” “You mean sacrificing?” “Yes sacrificing. You
want to see?” “Um…no not really.” Proceeded by a short discussion of
my astonishment that they still sacrifice animals sometimes in

Finally, we show up at the temple grounds and take a little turn of
them. This watery red line, which I foolishly told myself must be the
stuff we put on our forehead, makes a perfect square around the Kali
pagoda in the centre. We return to the front of the temple and there
are two sectioned off squares specifically for goat AND PIGEON
sacrifices. Let me interrupt by saying this is not a big temple
grounds. It’s about the size of a two-bedroom apartment in New York.
You cannot NOT see the sacrifices. They’re averaging about one goat
every couple of minutes, and I think some of the younger people were
in charge of pigeons so they were even faster.

I shied my eyes away as we walked to the donation table, but there on
my path, immediately in front of me, lay a dark brown body with a big
dark red oval where the neck was. I walk calmly to the table and
start talking to another friend of mine, when glancing back at the
dark brown goat body I notice there is now a headless beige one added
to the mix, with its legs still twitching!! A boy walks by carrying a
goat head and two decapitated pigeons.

Posted By Shubha Bala

Posted Jun 28th, 2008


  • Reema

    July 1, 2008


    I enjoyed reading your post.I find that the way you both went on with the “things for display purposes only” rather interesting.It’s nice to dream,it’s even nicer to allow people to dream with you.

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