If it wasn’t for the outbreak of COVID-19, the family of Mira Adhikari, a housewife who had lost her work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, would have gone to their ancestral home to celebrate Dashain.
With Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli-led administration urging people to celebrate the festival in their homes, Mira Adhikari’s family has abandoned plans to visit Tanahun, their ancestral home about 150 kilometers from the capital of Kathmandu.
“Every year during Dashain, we used to gather in our ancestral home where all our relatives would come and meet. We celebrated it in our own home this year. We didn’t go to our village,” Mira told ANI.
On the tenth day of Dashain, also known as Bijaya Dashami, one of the most important days of the fortnightly festival of Hindus in Nepal, the elders, along with Jamara, placed Tika on the foreheads of the young.
With a growing number of COVID-19 infections in the Himalayan nation, the chances of further spread of contagion remain high at the annual festival witnessed by millions across the world.
Over the months, the government has given a range of alerts to people about the potential rise in cases where there is an increase in movement across the country. While the number of people rushing to their homes this year has remained low relative to previous years, the fear of coronavirus spread remains strong.
In his address to the country, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli last week urged people to celebrate Dashain at their residence in order to preserve social distance.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari, on the occasion of Bijaya Dashami, asked people to celebrate it with caution and sensitivity.
Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun, President of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and President of the Nepalese Congress (NC) Sher Bahadur Deuba also called for the confinement of Dashain family members in the house following health safety protocols this year.