Kathmandu, Oct. 29: Every year, one narrative seems to gain much traction during the festival season; the narrative that the Dashains of yore were better than the Dashain now.
While this argument is certainly not without merit, it would be unfair to dismiss modern Dashain as unspirited as present-time festivals offer their own unique joys and benefits, many told The Rising Nepal.
For starters, social media has enabled people to share the occasion with their loved ones despite being separated by great physical distances, Darpan Lama shared.
The 63-year-old resident of Kapan, Kathmandu remembered a time when there were very few ways of reach-out to relatives living in a different city or country. “When I worked in India in my 30s and 40s, the only way of contacting my wife and parents, who used to live in Surkhet, was through letters or international phone calls,” Lama recalled. “It was inefficient, impractical and expensive. So I would hardly call once or twice during the whole Dashain.”
“Now though, my son lives in the United Kingdom and he is able to call me thrice daily on Messenger.”
Lama believed that today’s Dashain and other festivals were better than those of the past because technology allowed families to experience the joyful presence of their dear ones no matter where they are in the world.
Similarly, Dashain these days is less conservative than it used to be and restrictions around menstruation are beginning to loosen, felt Kunjana Bhandari of Nepaltar, Kathmandu. “Many young women are starting to rebel against the pointless menstrual customs and families are starting to accept, albeit begrudgingly,” the 27-year-old shared her observation.
Bhandari understood that many still held on to archaic beliefs but her family, and the families of her friends and contacts had started to evolve, which made her happy. “Be it Dashain or Tihar or whatever, if our mothers or grandmothers had their periods during festivals, they would either have to hide it or be deprived of celebration. Now, we at least have a voice.”
But the best thing about modern Dashain is that it does not bring about a total closure of public services, Digya Rajopadhyaya, a local of Kharibot, Lalitpur, said. “Save for hospitals, all offices, banks, stores, transportation and almost everything else used to shut down for Dashain, causing quite a headache,” recounted the 70-year-old.
“It was impossible to buy something in a hurry or withdraw money for urgencies. Now though, we have facilities like the ATMs and supermarkets that opened even during the day of the Bijaya Dashami,” she added, saying that services like Pathao had also made commuting during Dashain easier. “Life no longer comes to a standstill.”
Rajopadhyaya said that she did not know if Dashain of the present was better than that of the past, but it is definitely more convenient.