Thursday, 6 May, 2021

Celebration And Safety

Dashain, the biggest Hindu festival in Nepal, has been celebrated amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic this year. People have not observed the festival with much fanfare this time around as they would do it in the past in view of a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections and resulting fatalities across the country. Despite being an important festival when people return home for reunion with their families and relatives, this year's Dashain has witnessed a notably decreased mobility of people. This indicates that they have become quite conscious of the possible spread of the coronavirus. Many people seem to have strictly complied with the health safety protocols issued by the government to help prevent and control the virus infections. However, others have been found flouting the crucial health rules thereby posing threat to transmitting the virus disease.
The pandemic has affected people's festive mood, with most of the temples and shrines located across the nation closed and cultural rituals cancelled or reduced. Sacrificing animals such as goats and buffaloes at various temples dedicated to Goddess Durga and other Shakti Piths is one of the main rituals of Dashain. In the past, dozens of goats and buffaloes used to be sacrificed at Mulchowk of Hanumandhoka Durbar Square and several other shrines on the days of Mahaasthami, Mahanawami and Chaturdashi. But this ritual has been cancelled this year not only at Mulchowk of Hanumandhoka but also at Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares considering the increasing public health risk posed by the coronavirus contagion. However, other cultural and religious pujas have been performed as usual to maintain the tradition.
In addition, President Bidya Devi Bhandari did not offer tika to general public on Vijaya Dashami, the tenth day of Dashain, this year owing to the increasing risk of COVID-19. The Head of the State would offer tika and jamara to a large number of people on the premises of her office in the past. She also cancelled her visit to different shrines on the Mahaastami, the eighth day of Dashain, and Kojagrat Purnima, the final day of the festival. It may be for the first time in the history of Nepal's cultural rituals that such age-old practices have been affected.
In his address to people delivered on the occasion of Dashain on October 23, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli extended his warm greetings to all Nepalis living at home and abroad. The Prime Minister urged everyone to remain conscious of the risk of possible virus transmission while receiving tika and jamara from elders and seniors of the family. Our festivals were evolved in the process of the creation of society and organisation and development of civilisations to maintain good social arrangements. These festivals are in practice with gradual enrichment through subsequent experiences. Our ancestors developed festivals and celebrations, with a great degree of wisdom, in order to maintain kinship, affinity and relations as well as their values and importance and people's adherence to them, said the PM. He called one and all not to make extravagant expenses while celebrating festivals. As cautioned by the PM, everyone must abide by necessary safety norms in this difficult time in which health matters the most.