Friends, relatives of victim mark end of 49-day mourning period

  • Everest avalanche
- Weena Pun, Kathmandu

Jun 6, 2014-It is the 49th day since the Everest avalanche killed 16 Nepalis on April 18. For the Sherpa community, which lost 14 of its men on the mountain, the day also marks the end of official mourning period.

It is a Thursday morning and the prayer room on the fourth floor of Walung monastery in Bouddha is reserved for after death rituals of Dorje Khatri, one of the avalanche victims. A framed picture of Khatri is propped up on a table underneath the statues of three Buddhas. A column of Lamas on either side beat drums, blow trumpets and recite chants in Tibetan language.

Relatives and friends, including Khatri’s companions who survived the disaster, trickle into the prayer room, kneel and bow down in front of the Buddhas, and lay a khada shawl in front of Khatri’s picture.

On the terrace next to the prayer room, Khatri’s wife and their daughters serve glasses of cold drinks to the visitors. The eldest daughter is only 21 years old; the one after her is 18 and the youngest, a son, is only 14.

Forty-six-year old Khatri was the sole bread earner in the family. He had been guiding Everest expeditions since 2004.  None of the survivors in his family know how they will pay their house rent or education fees, but they have been postponing worrying about their future until after the 49th day.  The family has not even bothered to claim the insurance.

“I won’t let my mom work. I will maybe find myself a job as a receptionist at Nepal Mountaineering Association or a job abroad,” says Doma Khatri, the eldest daughter.

“What about your education?” her mother, Phuputhakchhe Sherpa, asks. “We’ll see,”the daughter replies.

For the meantime, the family has the support of those gathered in the monastery. Apart from words of condolence, some offer financial support by slipping an envelope into the mother’s hands. Dorje’s cousin and teammate, Nyamgal Sherpa, 39, did the same, passing her a cheque of Rs 100,000.  Together with a long-time friend, British national Judith Fairey, Nyamgal raised

Rs 300,000 for his three fallen teammates: Dorje, Phurtemba Sherpa  and Then Dorje Sherpa, all associated with Himalayan Guides Nepal, a tour and trekking company. Nyamgal was with his friends at Everest when the avalanche struck. He survived and feels that this is the least he can do for the friends he lost.

After lunch, the visitors say their goodbyes. No more commemorative ceremonies until next April 18. Lives shattered by the disaster are now expected to move on.

Published: 07-06-2014 09:21

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