Virtual Dashain Tika (Image for Representation
KATHMANDU: COVID-19 pandemic terror has overshadowed most of the festivals since April this year. From Bisket Jatra of Bhaktapur to Rato Machhindranath’s Chariot procession of Lalitpur and Indra Jatra of Kathmandu, all got confined to mere religious formalities, putting the jovial part of the feasts and festivals aside.
All Hindu temples remained closed on Janai Purnima, Teej and Krishna Janmashtami. The mosques remained closed during Eid, another major festival of the Muslim community.
Major Hindu festivals are in a queue now. Dashain, which is also regarded as the festival of family reunion, as thousands of family members away from home return during this festival. Tihar and Chhath are following Dashain.
A large number of people leave the Kathmandu Valley during these festivals. These festivals bring commotion in the valley life in many ways. Firstly, people crowd around the shops to buy special gifts, new clothes and various spices; then they leave the valley deserting their temporary settlement. Again, the people crowd onto the vehicles to rejoin the city life immediately after these major festivals.
However, this year’s travel and visit is uncertain owing to the widespreading coronavirus pandemic. Some people are coming more daringly and saying, irrespective of the pandemic fear, one should join the elders and members at home in the hometowns whereas others are more cautious and put their health first. Latter ones opine that travel puts the life of both the elders and the travelers at risk of coronavirus pandemic.
Cultural and religious importance of festivals
According to Culture Expert Prof. Veena Paudel, the ancient holy scriptures of Hindus, the Vedas talk about the mental health and security. They say that these festivals help in the protection of body and help in prolonging the healthy life.
“Our holy scripts are meant to guide us a noble, holy and healthy life,” Paudel says, “ “balanced diet and positive attitude are a most to live a healthy life.”
She regards the occasion as the means of nurturing the mental and social health.
“We express gratitude to the savior and caretaker deities during these festivals,” she said, adding, “Another most important factor of the celebration is the family reunion and the reunion with friends and relatives.”
Dashain is celebrated with offerings and prayers to Goddess Durga, the deity to help get victory of virtues over the vices.
Professor Veena urges one and all not to visit different places as the visits can make the elderly more vulnerable to the pandemic attack.
“All the people who have elders at home can get blessings and Tika from them, if not, they can get the blessings virtually from their elders (living far away) to reduce the vulnerability,” she advises.
The cultures and festivals survive with the people
There was a misunderstanding and a clash during Machindranath’s chariot pulling ceremony in Lalitpur on September 3. The police and the participants of the ceremony got injured. Finally, the riot was resolved on the condition that they could carry out the traditional rituals adopting health safety precautions against pandemic.
“The COVID-19 has panicked the entire world, let alone Nepal. In such a situation, we should take care of our health and then the health of our culture and tradition,” Professor Veena says, adding, “The importance of the festivals and their essence also depend on the health, happiness and prosperity of the people, so we should worship the deities accordingly.”
Virtual blessings this time
“We should not say that we have our father and mother in their eighties, so I should go there to receive Tika and blessings,” Professor Veena advises, “ this time receive the blessings online, so that both the elders and their lovely wards remain safe.”
She regards the virtual offerings and blessings the best way of adhering to cultures and keeping oneself safe at the same time.