Unlike last year, this year people are celebrating Dashain festival with great enthusiasm. The previous year, people were destined to confine themselves within the compound of their homes due to the surge of COVID-19 globally and nationally. This year, the situation is turning to normalcy as virus spread is almost under control or its impacts — infection, illness and fatalities — are decreasing. Crowds are seen in shopping complexes, bus terminals and air ticketing counters, and devotees are thronging the power shrines for performing worships.
Hindus worship nine different incarnations of Durga, collectively known as Naba Durga which culminates on the tenth day of Bijaya Dashami or Dashain Tika. The Naba Ratra or the nine nights dedicated to worship the power goddess started from the day of Ghatasthapana on the new moon day. Bijaya Dashami is the main day of the festival on which tika and jamara along with blessings are received from senior relatives.
People await the arrival of Dashain for the whole year. This annual occasion connects people with their relatives and the society itself because it provides people with an opportunity to get reunited with relatives and friends living apart during the year.
This is the time when people get into travel rush to return home from far away places within the country or abroad. People from any walk of life take this opportunity to renew their family get-together and participate in cultural activities. It this sense, Dashain is a festival with important social and cultural significance. This is a time to take break from routine works and refresh the bond with the family and the society.
The festival has its financial side too. The market sees a festive surge as people get engaged in festive shopping. Shopping spree involves the purchases of food, meat, spices and new clothes. But can the poor celebrate it as expected? The state should think about it and give a thought to make sure no citizen is left out from celebration due to financial or other reasons.
People should also be careful about healthy eating during the festival. Overeating and overdrinking may invite multiple health hazards. It is the time to enjoy eating but thought should be given to consume balanced diet.
Consumption of meat items should accompany plenty of vegetables, salads and fruits and nobody should indulge in overdrinking. Binge drinking and gambling are major anomalies of festive occasion which needs to be totally avoided. Safe travel is another precaution that people should follow during the festival time.
As a large number of people are returning home for the festival, over crowding, associated accident risks, theft of valuables, pickpocketing, cheating and fraud are common.
The police administration needs to get active to ensure safe travel of the festive travellers. We often see overcrowded vehicles plying in a narrow road, posing great risks to travellers. Avoiding crowd in the marketplace and during travel is equally important during the festival period because the risk of COVID-19 is not fully over yet.
As health experts have rightly suggested, avoiding crowd is the main precaution to be taken to check transmission of coronavirus. Everyone should be aware of this advice. Celebrations of the Dashain will be soon followed by the Tihar and Chhath festivals. Health safety rules should be strictly followed during all these occasions. We wish everybody happy and healthy celebrations!