I come from the small southeastern town of Dharan. The place is quiet, peaceful, clean, and the atmosphere is relaxing. People seem at ease with their surroundings as well as one another, and there’s a certain Old World charm in the way things are.
Kathmandu, in comparison, seems to be bustling with nervous energy. When I first came to this city, it overwhelmed me with its enthusiasm and exuberance as well as the maddening rush and the noisy hum of busy life.
After last year’s electoral debacle and recent defections by key figures, the Federal Socialist Party (FSP), once viewed as an alternative force for identity-based federalism in New Nepal, is gearing up for what is probably its toughest political test ever.
Detractors say the FSP has crashed before taking off. They argue that the FSP has no future whatsoever as its political agenda was rejected by people in the Second Constituent Assembly (CA) elections. But the FSP leaders say it is not time yet to write them off.
Written almost a century ago, these verses depict the exact sentiments of that era when Dashain was considered to be one of the greatest and most widely celebrated festivals in the country. It was a like a fresh breath of respite, socially and psychologically, for people belonging to all ages and social strata. However, the hands of the clock have turned for good now and such sentiments are becoming a thing of history. Dashain no longer contains the flavor that this poem portrays and particularly for the younger generation, Dashain is far from being the annual fiesta of joy and togetherness that their preceding generation carries such fond memories of.
Dashain, especially in the villages, used to be the much awaited event of the year when the entire community got together to celebrate. That was the only time when people wore new clothes and shoes. Goats, chicken and ducks were slaughtered in every household and linge ping (swings) were set up with a belief that it was auspicious to let one’s feet leave the ground during this festival.
Offices have closed down, the markets are flooded with crowds, and people are heading to their homes in flocks. But while most of us are geared up for Dashain and all excited about the foods, fun, laughter, and family time Dashain is going to bring for us, there are people who plan to spend Dashain as a vacation time by traveling to new and faraway places.
Subin Bhattarai, the author of novel “Summer Love” and its sequel “Saya”, for instance, is going on a weeklong trek to Pokhara and Ghandruk during this Dashain.
If Anita Bindu has a morning shift on the day of Dashain and she has not had time to get the Tika at home, she puts on the Tika by herself at her office. A Nepali newsreader at Nepal Television, she gets no days off, even on Dashain. And hence, to look their part on screen, sometimes you can find her and her colleagues putting on Tika by themselves before they go live. The irony is that she must look like she has celebrated Dashain the traditional way, even when she gets no time to do so.
For twelve years, Anita has had to coordinate the celebrations of festivals with work timings. Other TV programs can be recorded, but news has to be delivered fresh every time. Anita has regular shifts on all public holidays, though she can get another day off in its stead. But for her work on Dashain, she gets no extra holidays. And even though she is paid extra for it, it does have its drawbacks.
“Is everything expensive, or am I just poor?” read the Facebook status of a girl who, because of her usually late salary and extreme pre-festival expenses, had to scrap together change from the depths of her bag to buy a bar of soap. The number of likes and comments on that status was proof that she wasn’t alone, and that Dashain had started to show its effects in one of its many ways.
While it’s not unusual for young people to be broke often, the scenario seems to get worse during Dashain which is probably that time of the year when the entire country seems to be on one big shopping spree. And the fiesta continues till everything shuts down for the actual festival ceremonies. The fact is while many people make a decent living and get by just fine otherwise, money, however, is a constant worry during Dashain because everything is expensive.
For anyone past the age of eighteen, Dashain is a drag. It means work, and being polite to people you have never seen before and who are unashamedly rude to you, and then a whole lot more cooking than the poor back can take.
The only Dashain, as we so nostalgically say, is the Dashain of yore.
Youths in Kaiveer Fedi are setting up a swing in Chauri Bazaar during this Dashain. Youngsters of Shanti Danda are also organizing a football match. A lot of other sports tournaments are taking place in Fikkal. Even the prison is not far from Dashain delights and it is organizing a lot of sports activities for inmates inside there.
Every year, villages in the eastern hills come alive during Dashain. Everybody who is away from home returns home during Dashain. Married daughters happily visit their parents, and children are much excited about seeing their grandparents. All this creates a lively and vibrant environment in villages during Dashain.
Since the past few years, Dashain in Janakpur has had lost its charms due to the Madhesi rebellion and the consequent tension. However, this year’s Dashain is looking different in the sense that the original flavors are returning to the festivities.
In comparison to the previous years, there’s a larger crowd of shoppers in the market two weeks prior to the festival. And according to Shiva Shankar Shah, President of Janakpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, this tide of change is the chief indicator of the transformation in Janakpur’s Dashain this time.