Preparing for a muted Tihar
This year's Dasain was a subdued affair as it coincided with Covid-19 spreading like wildfire across Nepal, and especially in Kathmandu Valley. It now looks like Tihar, which this year falls on 13-16 November will also be the same.
These annual five-day celebrations will kick off from 13 November with Kag Tihar when crows are worshipped as the vehicle for Yamaraj, the god of death. On the other days, it will be the turn of the dogs to be revered, then the cow. The Newa community then marks its new year and the worship of self, Mha Puja.
With the coronavirus still spreading, the daily death toll now hitting 30 per day, most families are in a dilemma about the rituals, which requires brothers and sisters, for instance to pay their respects to each other on Bhai Tika. Most will be doing it wearing masks, keeping distance in well-ventilated rooms or outdoors.
In Gundu, Bhaktapur, 40-year-old Saraswati Bista is all set for Tihar and has cultivated the makhmali flowers that are much in demand for Bhai Tika, on the last day of the festival.
The 40-year-old has been farming the flowers for the past six years and used to make Rs100,000 by selling the garlands. However, even Bista is not expecting good sales this season.
“I have gone ahead with the plantation despite the unprecedented economic crisis but many of us farmers have been forced to plant makhmali in much smaller scale this year due to the pandemic,” she says.
Earlier this year during April-May wedding season, farmers across the country were forced to throw away the flowers they cultivated for sale, or feed it to livestock as weddings and big receptions got cancelled due to the coronavirus scare.