Sunday, 29 November, 2020

Pandemic draws technology closer during Tihar


By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Nov. 20 :Tina (name changed on request) chose not to go to her brothers’ house this year for Bhai Tika. Having recently recovered from COVID-19, she did not feel well enough to travel and was also not comfortable being around with family members.
But that doesn’t mean she did not celebrate Bhai Tika. “Thank God for Zoom!” she exclaimed. “We had a group video chat wherein I gave them my blessings and we exchanged love and best wishes.”
But what about the Dakshina? “How could I forget about Dakshina? That is the main motive behind Bhai Tika,” Tina joked. Her brothers sent the money to her eSewa account. “Technology has added a whole new dimension to our festivals,” she said, happy that she didn’t have to miss the fun of the festival with her siblings on account of her illness.
Technology also enabled individuals and groups to partake in Deusi and Bhailo celebrations, despite the authorities’ ban on such programmes.
Rotaract Club of Kantipur was one of the organisations that embraced the online medium this year for Deusi-Bhailo. “We decided to go digital for our Deusi-Bhailo so that we could stay safe and also enjoy Tihar,” informed Anusha Ghimire Nepal, the club’s president.
Nepal admitted it was a different experience and that some club members were initially skeptical. “Nevertheless, everyone had fun and we were able to maintain our tradition,” she said.
Staying on the theme of fun, even family recreations took a new form this Deepawali. Unable to gather in one place, people could not engage in the usual merrymaking. So, they had to get creative with technology, once again, coming to their aid.
“We played online cards,” shared Pradeep Rayamajhi, talking about his Tihar with his brothers and uncles. “All of us have smartphones and wifi connection. So, we held a few rounds of cards online.” According to Rayamajhi, they transferred the winnings into each other’s bank accounts. He also added that the family played online ludo and carrom, in addition to some of the games offered by Facebook Messenger.
“Nothing can replace the physical presence of your near and dear ones but virtual technology has at least allowed us to see their faces and hear their voices,” Rayamajhi said.
But not everyone has access to technology. Suyog Karki’s parents live in Dolakha and they neither own smartphones nor do they have an internet connection. So, he was unable to video call them or connect them through social media. This made last month a very difficult time for him.
“I wasn’t able to go home because of the pandemic and I wasn’t able to see my parents’ faces. I could not receive Tika from my parents in Dashain and I could not eat Selroti prepared by my mother in Tihar,” Karki lamented. “I hope things will get better by next Dashain.”

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