Tihar, also known as Yamapanchak, is the festival of light, hope, faith and prosperity which strengthens the bond between brothers and sisters. This celebration of bond between the siblings is unique and exemplary, which depicts the richness of our culture. In Tihar crow and dog are worshipped as the envoy of Yama, the god of death, and a spirit within us is celebrated in Mha Puja. In this festival, Laxmi puja holds a special significance. We decorate our homes with flowers and observe illumination with oil lamps and make decorative patterns and symbols in our house fronts and worship Laxmi with a belief that the goddess will bless us with prosperity and happiness.
This year the festive mood is not the same as in the previous years because an earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale that jolted Jajarkot and Rukum West killed 153 individuals and hundreds of others sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment and surgeries. Hundreds of buildings in these hill districts were damaged or destroyed. The 5.8 magnitude aftershock of November 6 has added the sufferings and casualties and people are in panic because aftershocks of varying intensity are continuing. This year Tihar is not the same for the residents of the earthquake-hit districts as the survivors have lost their homes, and near and dear ones. As biting cold season is setting in, the affected people are living in sorry conditions and run the risk of falling ill.
At this time of trouble and trauma, it is the obligation of all, including the government and the fellow citizens, to provide relief in cash and kind to help lessen the miseries of the affected residents. There is the always the risk of the spread of infectious disease after the natural calamity of this magnitude. Earthquake victims in Jajarkot and Rukum West are at high risk of being infected by waterborne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery and people are also likely to catch cold-related ailments such as pneumonia. In addition to this, unfathomable pain of losing the loved ones and disaster shock, can develop anxiety and depression among the victims. The health of pregnant women and postpartum mothers is at high risk too. The victims badly need food, warm shelter, clean drinking water, medical treatment as well as psychological counseling.
Striving to create a world filled with light, love and harmony is the true essence of Tihar and it’s the time for every Nepali to translate the feeling of universal brotherhood and sharing into action and assist the quake victims with every means we can. The government has been doing its best for rescue relief and rehabilitation of quake victims, and it has ensured their free treatment. The government machinery has been distributing relief materials and the army and police personnel are deployed for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the victims, but still there might be the victims who are in dire need of help. It is the time Nepal needs assistance of the international community and its own citizens for the relief and rehabilitation of the quake victims.
This year’s Tihar celebration will only be meaningful if we can provide assistance to quake victims with whatever means we have and bring smiles on their faces. Tihar is the celebration that further strengthens the unbreakable tie between brothers and sisters and this year every Nepali needs to show compassion and the feeling of brotherhood to help lessen the pains of fellow citizens in distress caused by the natural disaster.