Children celebrated their mother’s Chaurasi Puja at SOS Children’s Villages Gandaki

It was a bright, sunny morning of May, a day of celebration inside the premises of SOS Children’s Village Gandaki. Everyone was busy decorating a place with beautiful fabrics and florals, where retired Mother Om Kumari Thapa celebrated her 84th year of a blessed life, also known as ‘Chaurasi Puja.’

‘Our mother provided us with a nurturing care, a stable home with compassion and acceptance. She was loving, warm and protective, and I can never forget that,’ said Anju, who was raised by Ms. Thapa, at SOS Children’s Village Gandaki. ‘We organized ‘Chaurasi Puja’ to pay homage to our mother, who devoted her life in taking care of us.’

According to a belief of Hindus, a human, after crossing 80 years, is considered a form of God. Thus, Chaurasi Puja or the ceremonial worship is generally conducted at the age of 84, which is one of the unique traditions in the Nepalese society where an elderly person is celebrated and worshipped as a mortal god. Usually, family members, specifically children arrange such Chaurasi Puja with a whole festive mood to celebrate their parent’s life.

Ms. Thapa, who stayed single her whole life, thus, did not have any biological children of her own. However, she worked as a Mother at SOS Children’s Village Gandaki for about 28 years providing a nurturing care to 23 children during her tenure. Since her retirement in 2006, Ms Thapa has been living in a special house for retired Mothers. However, she is still very much involved in the lives of the children she raised and her 26 grandchildren. On the day of her Chaurasi Puja, Ms. Thapa was beaming with joy as she was surrounded by her children and grandchildren. ‘I feel blessed, and, at the same time, I am overwhelmed with happiness,’ said Ms. Thapa.

The ritual was equally very special and memorable for the entire family of SOS Children’s Village Gandaki since it was the first time children arranged ‘Chaurasi Puja’ to honor their Mother. ‘A mother is someone who nurtures and brings forth new life. The love that my mother showed me lives in through the legacy instilled in my values. It is passed on to my son and to those whose lives she has touched. I hope this gesture conveys a positive message in the society,’ said Anju.

Ms.Thapa’s journey with SOS Children’s villages Gandaki began in 1975 when she decided to devote her life as a dedicated Mother. Reflecting on her 28 years of service, Ms. Thapa says she is proud of what she has achieved, especially how her children are doing well in their respective lives.

‘As a Mother, I raised nine daughters and fourteen sons. Even today, they look for me and are protective of one another,’ said Ms. Thapa. ‘I feel proud of them. It gives me a great joy to be their mother. The way motherhood comes to you, it is a blessing.’