|Subdued Dashain fest in Sikkim this year|
GANGTOK, Oct 20 - The advent of Navratri marks the beginning of the biggest festival of the Nepali community in Sikkim – Dashain. Also known as Vijaya Dashami, the festival is marked by people visiting relatives and elders – usually those living in the cities go to their respective native villages.
A traditional Linge Ping erected during the Dashain Festival. – Photo: A Correspondent
In Nepal and Nepali-speaking belt of India, including the Sikkim-Darjeeling Hills, the Durga Puja is celebrated as Dashain, a 10-day festival. On the 10th day, people seek the blessings of elders in the form of applying tikka that denotes divinity.
Nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped for nine days during Navratri. On the 10th day falls the auspicious occasion of Vijaya Dashami. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dashain Festival will be celebrated on a subdued note as families are likely to refrain from visiting their respective native places.
Many from the State capital will give travelling a miss this festive season. For Sumitra Subba, an entrepreneur in the hospitality sector, going to her native village in West Sikkim during the Dashain festival has been a yearly routine. However, she will stay put here this year.
“I have ailing parents back at home. In our profession, we are constantly in contact with tourists. I fear that if I go home, my parents might come in contact with the virus,” she said.
Meanwhile, experts have urged people to take the utmost precautions while travelling to different places. State Heath Secretary Pempa Bhutia has said that in view of the present pandemic, it is advisable to celebrate the Dashain Festival with the family indoors. He pointed out that there is no point in going for quarantine within the State.
“There are no restrictions now as people are travelling. However, I urge the public to maintain social distancing and follow the COVID-19 protocols,” Bhutia said.
Wishing people on the occasion of the Dashain Festival, he said that the responsibility lies with the individual to keep oneself and one’s loved ones safe from the viral infection.
However, the ongoing situation has not dampened the festive spirit with people going for brisk shopping to mark the traditional revelry.