Dashain and its discontents
Oct 5, 2018-
Last year for Dashain, my parents hosted a big feast, inviting relatives and friends. We were delighted to see happy faces around us and we had a lot of fun. But the next day, I noticed that so much food had gone to waste. Our guests too suffered from loose motion after the feast, thanks to all the oily food.
This is a common trend that follows every Dashain, but we don’t seem to take much note of it, as our society only celebrates the positive sides of Dashain. On one hand, Dashain affirms good relations with people in the community. Relatives and neighbours gather together and share their moments of happiness and sorrow. Parents working away from home return for the festival and finally get an opportunity to spend time with their children and spouses. Dashain is a time for celebration, happiness and togetherness, at least for a short while.
On the other hand, the festival invites frustration and disorder in the lives of many. Dashain brings cheer to the faces of people but it also takes the lives of thousands of animals. In the name of Dashain, many animals are sacrificed. Animals are killed in such brutal ways that any animal lover feels guilty. We scatter the blood of animals but we do not seem to know that this can beget epidemics which can in turn cost the lives of many.
Dashain also impresses upon the poor their poverty more acutely. For instance, my younger brother forces our parents to buy him new things for Dashain. He turns Dashain into an occasion to fulfill all his desires. It is not entirely his fault; society has taught him that such demands are permissible. During Dashain, there is seemingly a competition on who can hold the biggest feast. If they cannot afford a lavish feast, there are instances of people taking loans out to host extravagant parties. Our society had made a social compulsion on spending on food and clothes during Dashain. If one doesn’t wear new clothes and doesn’t eat delicious foods, they could face social discrimination.
To compound all of these problems, many traders take Dashain as an opportunity to gain profit. The prices of goods are greatly marked up so as to earn maximum profits. The crowds of people shopping at the market encourage traders to adopt dishonest means by hiking prices and also selling low quality goods. This phenomenon can also be observed in the public transport section. Millions of Nepalis travel during the holiday season, prompting transport entrepreneurs to raise prices. There are also many road accidents during this period as drivers tend to speed and also overload their vehicles.
All of these issues affect the health and well-being of those who celebrate Dashain. The foods that are consumed during the festival are often adulterated and of poor quality. Furthermore, oily and seasoned foods, along with alcohol, are greatly consumed in the name of good taste but we are clueless about the serious affects these foods can have on our health. Most clinics and hospitals also remain closed during Dashain but the rate of sick people increases tremendously, which can cost the life of many an individual. Other anti-social activities like robbery, gambling, alcoholism and quarreling can also be perceived during Dashain. They also constitute the negative parts of Dashain, which are devaluing this festival.
Dashain is not a bad custom or tradition in itself, but it is made so by society. We should consume limited amounts of oily and seasoned food and avoid unhygienic ones. Furthermore, we could all change our violent behaviours toward animals. Gambling and alcohol consumption should be socially banned. Vehicle owners should limit the number of passengers. Also, if we become responsible customers, sellers cannot do any black marketing with us. In the end, we should all learn to cut our coat according to the cloth.
Shree Golden Sunrise School, Jhapa
Published: 05-10-2018 07:40