By Binu Shrestha Kathmandu, Oct. 22: Ganga Khanal, a resident of Kusunti, Lalitpur has asked all her relatives to not visit her home for ‘Tika’ this year. In the current unfavourable situation, health and safety are more important than celebrations. There is an ubiquitous fear of the pandemic. “Staying home and celebrating Dashain with family members is safer than visiting relatives,” Khanal, who lives with her husband and a young son, said. “I love to invite relatives and have gatherings at every big and small festival. I am over 60 years old but I still enjoy cooking in every function. But this year, we have decided not to visit each other’s home,” she added. Dashain is the biggest festival for Nepalis and has always been an opportunity to forget worries and get refreshed. However, this year, the festival has been overshadowed by COVID-19. The festivity is noticeably subdued and people are making efforts to limit celebrations and minimise the risk of infection to themselves and their dear ones. “I am not going to my father’s place to receive blessings and ‘Tika’ from him. My father is over 70 years old and he is at high risk of contracting the virus,” said Kopila Shrestha, a local of Swoyambhu. “I do not own a car or a bike so I will have to use a public vehicle to travel there. And using public transportation is like openly inviting the coronavirus,” Shrestha said, adding, “We have to understand the situation. Pandemic is more pressing right now than the festivals.” Shrestha did not have to face much resistance to her decision to subdue Dashain because her relations are themselves aware and had already asked her to avoid coming to their homes. The fear of COVID-19 has not only kept people away from their relatives’ homes but also from their own. Rajeev Kunwar, a temporary resident of Sokhel, Dakshinkali, shared that he had decided not to go home to Dhading this year because he does not want to travel by public buses. “If I go home then I risk infecting myself and my family members. Then how will we celebrate Dashain in case we have to stay in quarantine for 14 days. Staying where we are is safer than going home.” “I can visit home some other time if I remain healthy. So following health protocol is more important right now,” he said.