Festive fun (Feature Story)

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People confess that, amidst all the fun and frolick, the five days of festivities feel too short.

With Tihar at our doorstep, the streets of Ason are bustling with people busy with shopping. The usual hustle bustle of Ason is amplified ten folds with stalls selling Tihar related merchandise spread all over the already crowded street.

Malina Shrestha came all the way from Bhaisipati to do her shopping at Ason. She has been coming to Ason for all her shopping needs for as long as she can remember. Whenever any festival rolls around, she immediately comes to Ason and hasn’t really stopped to consider any other place to shop.

Shrestha revealed that Tihar was her favorite holiday as all the lights and the diyos fill her with a sense of calm. Every year on the day of Dhanteras, she sets out to buy new utensils for the house according to the necessities in the kitchen. “There is no point in buying what you already have and won’t end up using. But I make it a point to buy something new every year,” she says.

Although Dhanteras has become associated with wealth and people buy gold or silver jewelery and utensils on this day, there is no actual association of either wealth or gold with Dhanvantari, who is a provider of good health rather than wealth. In fact, Dhanvantari is considered to be the teacher of all physicians and the originator of Ayurveda.

Sangeeta Khadka, a resident of Hattiban, was out buying small photos of Goddess Laxmi. The favorite part of Tihar for her is Laxmi puja because she gets to thank Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth, for all the benefits that were bestowed on her family by lighting oil lamps or candles on doorways and windows to welcome prosperity and well being. It is also a tradition that has been there for a while now and she enjoys the comfort provided to her by the tradition. Every year on Tihar, her family has the tradition of buying silverware. Whether it is just a small diyo or a big karuwa, without fail every year, new silverware is present in the puja kotha for the Laxmi Puja.

Ira Rimal traveled to Ason from Dhapasi with her daughter-in-law in tow so that they could have fun and people watch while they finished their shopping for Laxmi Puja. Tihar is her favorite time of the year, even more so than Dashain for it is the time for merriment. She looks forward to the throngs of people selling flowers and colors everywhere. The buildings around the valley decked in string lights, lighting diyos around the house, and getting lots of shopping done are what she looks forward to all year.

On the day of Laxmi Puja, they make goji, sel and all types of other sweets to offer to the deities. All the people who come to play deusi and bhailo are sent away with a nanglo full of goodies which include rice, sel and money among others. After the Laxmi Puja is complete, she calls her relatives and plays bhailo over the phone. After that, the entire family piles up into the car to go around town and soak up the joyous atmosphere of the festival. They love going around sightseeing and enjoy the festival of lights to the fullest, while it lasts. The five days feel too short, she confesses.

People we spoke to were in high spirits as this is the first Tihar away from the looming shadow of the devastating earthquakes of 2015. They believe that this year the Tihar celebrations will be better than last year with more lights and more people out playing deusi and bhailo, despite the government instructions of ending any deusi/bhailo program by 10 pm.

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