Thursday, 3 December, 2020
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OPINION

Lockdown Offers Time To Refurbish Heritages



Shaphalya Amatya 

Due to Corona virus pandemic almost the whole world is under lockdown. People in different countries took it in different ways. In Kathmandu valley though a great majority of the population prefers to stay home for safety as advised by the government, but some health enthusiasts, medical personnel, sportsmen, and daily wage laborers, who were compelled to come out and work for their daily needs did not stay home ideally and they continued their daily routine as usual. The health workers such as doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, and people belonging to essential services were all doing their daily courses. Bravo to all of them.
The world has never experienced such a situation in this century and almost all the countries in the world are in lockdown condition. Though this pandemic has not threatened our country specially the Kathmandu valley seriously it is an opportunity for us to build up and continue our economic activities.
In Nepal this lockdown situation could be a great boon for building infra-structures, such as roads, canals, drainage etc, because during this period the workers can work peacefully without any disturbances. I think this is the right moment to complete the long awaited Melamchi Water Supply Project. In the same manner Nepal Government should try to complete many such heritage restoration projects, like restoration of Ranipokhari, completion of Dharahara project, Kasthamandap project and so on.
Recently, the news of resuming reconstruction works at Ranipokhari and Darahara has certainly encouraged the heritage conservators and builders to restart other heritage restoration project throughout the country. The concerned authorities and stakeholders should not be late in continuing these projects because after this crisis is over we have to reopen our touristic sites both for internal and international visitors.
For these heritages restoration projects we do not need hordes of people, but only a few dozen people or skilled craftsmen, laborers and some technicians will be sufficient. This is the right time when they can work efficiently by giving attention to their works. Most of our heritages are in the world heritage site list. In the valley these areas are always crowded and disturbed by motorbikes and other vehicles. This is also a right moment for the researchers and photographers to study and study the history and architecture of the concerning monuments. If we could revive our activities of heritage restoration it will certainly help our economically poor skilled artists, labouyrers, and other persons who will be involved in these activities.
Since long our monuments have not been cleaned and numerous of them are in need of repainting and repairing. In this period of lockdown the lovers of the monuments and other heritage enthusiasts should come out and clean them and give them a new attractive look. We hope very soon this lockdown period will end and once again tourism will bloom. When we will come out from lockdown situation we should try to present our heritages in intact form and with their full glories.
Let us imagine Ranipokhari with clean blue water, lotus flowers, colorful fishes and nice gardens all around. Similarly we are waiting for a beautiful park, nice restaurants, a view tower and shopping Mall at Dharahara. Revival of Kasthamandap, Maju Dewal, Trailokya Narayan temple and so on around Hanumandhokha Durbar Square will not only enhance the pride of the Kathmanduties but also provide a new boost to their religious and moral values.
This lockdown situation for nearly two months has left tremendous impacts on cultural, religious and social activities especially in the valley. The prominent festivals like Seto Machindranath and Rato Machindranath chariot festivals, the khat yatras or chariot festivals of Bisket, Mother's Day festival at Matatirtha pond and numerous other local and regional cultural events have been forced disrupted. The most important religious centres like Pasupatinath temple, Swayambhu Stupa, and numerous other Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas and shrines have been left desolated.
This precarious situation has also left some psychological problems among the people particularly among the religious minded people. It will certainly take some time for them to regain or bring back their state of mind to normalcy as before. Once the threat of pandemic decreases the administration should not open the places of worships and other entertainment sectors to everyone. They should regulate activities and control the crowd.
There are rumors in the cities that the government authorities particularly Guthi Undertakings and other stakeholders are thinking to celebrate these important national festivals particularly Seto and Rato Machindranath chariot festivals and Bisket Jatra in the coming months after the threat of coronavirus subsides. I think it will be a mistake to celebrate such important national festivals at any time at whim because these festivals are celebrated according to their auspicious calendar. Again in celebrating such festivals we should be very careful about weather and annual agricultural cycle.
Last but not the least, we should try to contact friendly countries particularly China and India to know how they have treated their monuments, especially world heritage monuments, during this period of pandemic. If we could share their experiences that will certainly be helpful to us to revive the lost glories of our heritages.

(The author writes on cultural issues.) 

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