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Virus dampens hopes of prospective Holi revelers



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By Sampada Anuranjanee Khatiwada


Kathmandu, Mar : 6 Holi (Fagu Purnima), the festival of colours, is set to be affected by COVID-19.
The festival, which is popular especially among the youths, is celebrated by organising various concerts and gatherings.
But this year, the Kathmandu District Administration Office (DAO) has directed the public to not organise and be a part of such gatherings and celebrations, including Holi.
Issuing a press release on Thursday, the DAO has called the denizens to not get out of their houses, with urgency being the exception.
Janak Raj Dahal, Chief District Officer of Kathmandu, said that considering the threat of possible outbreak of COVID-19 in Nepal, the Security Committee’s meeting held on Thursday decided to request people to not organise or participate in Holi and other fairs, festivals and gatherings.
Dahal said that the DAO took the step to minimise the risk of epidemic outbreak.
Although the DAO had given permission to organise over a dozen events in Kathmandu to celebrate Holi, many of the organisers have started cancelling the events, considering the risk to public health ahead of the celebration.
The Arbitrary Group, for instance, had scheduled an event called ‘Mad Wolf’ on March 9 to celebrate Holi at The Malla Hotel, but cancelled the event on March 4.
“Mad Wolf has been cancelled due to health concerns amid growing fears of the coronavirus,” the group informed through their official Facebook page.
Likewise, the group was organising another event at Heritage Garden Sanepa, which has also been cancelled due to the threat of COVID-19.
The group said that the event was cancelled considering the best interest of the people.
Despite Holi being one of the most liked and most celebrated festivals amongst the youth, they seem to be supporting the government’s request of halting gatherings this year.
“Health is much more important than celebration in any sense,” said Nikita Neupane, 23. “No risk can be taken when ‘public health’ concerns are associated with it.”
Being the most informed group, the youths should focus on spreading awareness amongst people about risk of such celebrations and gatherings, she added.
The tourists’ in-flow during Holi festival has also been affected due to the threat of coronavirus.
Damodar Dhakal, Secretary of Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN), said, “Around 400,000 tourists visit Nepal during the season of Fagu, but the number is likely to decrease this year due to the global epidemic.”
“Holi is all about festival and colours. Since the threat of outbreak of the virus is rising in Nepal, the tourists’ in-flow will be bearish,” he added.
Meanwhile, the seasonal business during Holi festival has also been affected by the fallout of the virus. Business of all the Holi-utilities such as colours, water balloons, water guns and customised Holi attires has gone down because of COVID-19.
“Last year, we had made some profit by selling more than 300 Holi T-shirts in a week’s time,” said Sabin Maharjan, a salesperson at Gongabu-based retail store. “This year, we have not been able to sell even 50 of them.”
Maharjan said that the seasonal business had declined due to the danger of virus.
“However, health should always be given the first priority,” he added. “It would be like skating on thin ice if the virus breaks out in Nepal.”
As prevention is better than cure, everyone should focus on helping the government by adopting preventive measures against COVID-19.
Along with Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Rupandehi, Chitwan, Kaski and other districts throughout the nation have requested the citizens to not organise and be a part of gatherings and celebrations of Holi festival.

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