Sunday, 29 November, 2020

Celebrating Festivals Under COVID-19 Shadow


Aditi Koirala


Nepal is a beautiful land with people of various culture, ethnicity, people who practice different religions and share different beliefs. Among many countries in the world, our country also lies on the top list for celebrating several festivals in unique manners. Every festival celebrated here carries its significance.
The two major festivals, Dashain and Tihar, never fail to bring smile among us. These festivals have their mythological importance and it is special and jovial to celebrate. People celebrate festivals in Nepal for a long time. The way it is celebrated not only brings happiness inside everyone but also unites every Nepali with family, relatives and friends.
In Nepal, we get the longest holidays to celebrate these festivals. Everyone gets a break from their regular tedious life and get some quality time to spend with their family. In nuclear families, parents, staying apart for long from their children, have to wait for this time of the year so that they can spend some quality time with their children and vice versa. Everyone from their level tries their best to make this time the happiest. These festivals bring back togetherness between families.
Dashain and Tihar along with Chhath are the major Hindu festivals that come one after another and are celebrated with much fanfare. Dashain is also one of the longest festivals as people celebrate it for 15 days.
Tihar is known as festivals of lights, celebrated for five days. The colourful lights of Tihar don't just brighten the surrounding but also brighten the dim life of people. Chhath is celebrated for 4 days. The Chhath worship is dedicated to the Sun god and Shashthi Devi (Chhathi Maiya) to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. During these festivals, people visit their different relatives and celebrate together.
Besides, people make each festival special in their way. Getting together with friends and families, playing cards, sharing memories, making people feel how strong bond they share with their known ones is the speciality of celebrating festivals together in Nepal. The festive season also reminds us of the special food items prepared and eaten together by family members and relatives. In Tihar, we decorate our houses with flowers and lights. People play deusi bhailo and everybody enjoys it being together. People make Rangoli and thus invite Goddess Laxmi in their house wishing for their prosperity. But this year, things are quite different as we are well aware of the ongoing terrifying situation due to the spread of coronavirus pandemic. The cases of COVID-19 are increasing rapidly every single day. Isolation is the only best way to ward off the deadly virus. The authority has forbidden gatherings while this festival is all about being together and performing all rituals and getting blessings from elders for good health and prosperity. The virus has scared the people so much that they fear going near to anyone these days.
During this difficult situation, the joy and excitement of people seem to have gone down. People are avoiding the crowd and are meeting fewer people. They are taking extra precaution against this deadly virus, which has claimed many lives across the world.
In this season, especially all the streets get super crowded and people seem to be buzzing all around. This season is better known as the shopping season as it is believed that new and clean clothes should be worn during the time of celebrating festivals. This has phenomena has become a trend. But unfortunately, not this year.
The case this year seems to be quite different as the threat of coronavirus is on the rise. With the increasing number of infection, markets have witnessed less movement of the people. The number of people going outdoors has dropped. We used to find many people enjoying this vacation by going on trips but this year many are planning small celebrations just inside houses with limited family members.
After every night, we are blessed with bright days. Similarly, after this difficult phase passes, we will certainly see the glow in people's faces and happiness spreading in the air. But for now, all we have to be concerned about the safety of our health. WHO has already stated, that the danger of virus transmission is maximum in children and old age people. Visiting grandparents or parents for celebration does increase the risk of transmission of this virus to them. So, this year it is beneficial for all of us to be at our respective places and celebrative this festival safely and peacefully.

(Aditi is a college student) 

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