Perhaps the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) leaders who had gone to meet Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Oct 8 were well aware that little gets done during the over a month-long holiday season that starts with Dashain and ends with Chhath. That is why when Prime Minister Oli assured the RJPN leaders that their demands would be fulfilled by the end of Dashain the Madhesi leaders said they were happy to give him until the end of Chhath. Who knows, they too might have been in a festive spirit not to make a hard push. Dashain remains the most widely celebrated festival in Nepal, even though not everyone celebrating it is religious. They will go to different Shakti Peeths during the Navaratri, the ‘nine nights’ and 10 days of Dashain (See Sabhyata Jha’s story, Page 8-9), to imbibe the festive spirit if nothing else. There is also a growing trend of people leaving Nepal to visit other countries during Dashain, as they are unlikely to get another holiday nearly as long. This also signals the dwindling religious importance of Dashain even as its cultural and socio-economic significance remains high.
For meat-eaters, this is the time to gorge on goat, a Dashain delicacy. But interestingly the trend of people becoming vegetarians, nay, even vegans, is rocketing as well, partly because of the violence associated with animal killings (See Main story, Page 7). Another popular pastime this Dashain, at least for those who remain in the country, will be playing cards, often with the involvement of huge sums, never mind that the government has banned any kind of gambling.
Many bemoan the days when the whole extended family used to get together to celebrate, often by visiting their ancestral homes. Now half the family is invariably abroad during Dashain, working there or on vacation. But it would be unrealistic to expect the country’s biggest festival to remain static in a society that has been in a state of constant flux since the 1990 political change.
Rather than resist the inevitable change perhaps it is a better idea to gracefully accept it. Let us celebrate today and look forward to a better tomorrow. Happy Dashain, everyone.