In throes of Covid, Nepal marks Tihar

All photos: Monika Deupala

After Dasain, locals in Kathmandu are once again back on the streets for Tihar shopping, and although more people are wearing masks, there is no way to avoid crowds.

Traders kept their shops open on Saturday in Asan, Bhotahity, Patan and Bhaktapur, in preparation for prayers and illumination in the evening. However, the celebrations have been muted with fewer homes and office lit up, and much reduced fireworks.

Nepalis mark the four-day festival of Tihar that includes Laxmi Puja on Saturday which also includes the worship of cows and dogs. Sunday is Bhai Tika, and then there is the Mha Puja of the New community of Kathmandu Valley and the Newa New Year. The festival started on Friday with the worship of crows, regarded as the messengers of the god Yamaraj.

Nepal has been reporting an average of 2,000 new cases on a daily basis across the country for the past month.  The total confirmed cases in Nepal surpassed 200,000 this week, with nearly half of them just in Kathmandu Valley. The total deaths crossed 1,202 on 13 November, with 456 of them in Kathmandu. For the past weeks, the Valley is recording an average of 60% of the daily cases detected nationwide. On Friday,a total of 2,111 people tested positive for coronaviruss. 1,207 of them were in Kathmandu Valley. There were additional 13 deaths in the last 24 hours as well as 3,537 recoveries.

Public health experts have predicted another surge in cases even as coronavirus cases continue to increase daily and hospitals in Kathmandu are reaching capacity, some having to turn away even serious cases due to a lack of beds and other resources. Post-Dasain, there has been a surge of new cases in kaski district and Pokhara where the positivy rate is more than 33%. In Kathmandu an average of 23% of those tested daily are positive.

Despite the crisis, the festival also presents an opportunity for people to forget their health worries and their economic woes for a few days and mark the festivities with family and friends.

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