23 October 2020
Bada Dashain, the big festival of Nepalis, has started. On this great occasion, I wish to extend warm greetings to all Nepali brothers and sisters in the country and abroad for their well-being, progress and prosperity.
Our festivals including Bada Dashain are not in practice without any reason. Our festivals came into practice on the basis of various historical backgrounds. Such festivals were evolved in the process of the creation of society and organization and development of civilizations. Created to maintain good social arrangements, these festivals are in practice with gradual enrichment through subsequent experiences. Our ancestors developed festivals and celebrations, with a great degree of wisdom, in order to maintain kinship, affinity and relations as well as their values and importance and people’s adherence to them.
These festivals are not only pageants and celebrations but also the foundation of good social arrangements. Our civilization, our culture and our values were developed on the basis of the same social arrangements. In fact, festivals are magnets that unite and bind society. Also, these are lubricants that enable smooth functioning of society. It is therefore necessary to espouse and promote the positive essence of these festivals that are great and lively. Therefore, deeming these festivals only as conservative practices and reject them is sure to render the whole society meaningless, distasteful and unworkable.
Nonetheless, it is necessary to discard the negative aspects that are there in the name of festivals. It is not appropriate by any measures to indulge in extravagant expenses incurred without thinking of one’s capacity and without consideration of need and rationality. We all have to be conscious and careful to make our celebrations economic by correcting extravagance. It is rightly said, protecting plants does not mean protecting unwanted tissues.
We have been celebrating Bada Dashain each year sometimes with adversities of different nature. Dashain came to our doorstep even in the year of the devastating earthquake. Many of us were homeless, but still maintained our tradition under the tents.
A great, jubilant festival of family union, once a year, we celebrated this time again amidst the anguish of not seeing at home family members in foreign land.
This year we are welcoming Bada Dashain amidst COVID 19 pandemic. This worldwide pandemic has badly affected Nepal as well. At this hour, many of us in family are compelled to maintain distance. In the past we used to be disheartened for not getting a leave and not being able to go home. This time, however, we are not able to return home and get united with family even if we get leave. On the face of it, it seems that we all are healthy. But still we are not sure when we will get bed ridden and get separated from others. We are in the middle of doubt and uncertainties.
In this adverse situation, we are celebrating the festival this time in a different way. Distinctly different this time, we need to be cautious about health discipline even when receiving the blessings from the elders and the venerated of the family.
We need to be conscious about the risk of possible virus-transmission while receiving tika and jamara from elders and seniors of family whose health condition is weak . Since the possibility of infection is higher in senior citizens, children and individuals with weak health, I would like to request you all to remain cautious about this while celebrating Dashain.
On the eve of Dashain, the infection rate is at its highest now. The Kathmandu valley has been an epicenter of the infection. It may take still a while to slow down the speed of the spread. So, the Government has focused all its efforts on prevention and control of the virus as well as on the treatment of those who are infected.
Protecting citizens during any disaster is the unconditional responsibility of the Government. Now the Government’s first job and supreme duty during the pandemic is to protect the life of the people. The Government elected by your vote will not abstain from fulfilling this responsibility under any pretext. I request all sisters and brothers to rest reassured that the Government will make proper arrangements for testing and treatment of all citizens infected by COVID-19. Not only in tracing, testing and treatment, the Government will also remain active in making the vaccine against the disease easily accessible to all Nepali people.
Rumors surface during such national disaster. Many rumors of the type that make people petrified and helpless have been spread since the first lockdown started on 24 April 2020. The nature of rumors is almost the same, be it at the time when the first active case was identified or now when the cases rose up to 5,700 in a single day. However, with the help of fellow citizens, such layers of rumors have been cleared one after another. Due to the same spirit of constructive support of the people, the death rate during the pandemic has not gone above 0.6 per cent. The recovery rate is also gradually going up.
I have been stressing that each one of us is a soldier in this battle against the pandemic. In this battle, we should make contributions to our own safety as well as to the safety of family, community and the entire population. As I speak, rumors are spread that the Government has allegedly said those who can manage can survive but don’t care about others, let them be on their own. At the times of pandemic or mega disasters, it is natural for the State to expect reasonable solidarity of its people. Helping the poor is not only a humanitarian aspect, but also the tradition of the Nepalis. The Government has been making provisions for equal access of everyone to contact tracing of infection, testing and treatment. The provision of free treatment of the infected patients continues, as long as the concerned person, his or her family or Hospital Development Committee declares that they cannot afford. Management of dead bodies also continues as usual without any change in earlier procedures. Arrangements have also been made to allow performing last rites by families according to their local traditions. A number of sisters and brothers have been receiving medical treatment in private hospitals at their own expenses on a voluntary basis. This act, which is a support to the state but not a burden, is in itself commendable.
Support from family, relatives, neighbors and people’s representatives is more important during difficult times. Mutual support and the sense of unity can heal the pain. News of infection, whether to oneself or his or her family members, leaves deep psychological effect. A situation should not be created where the infected patient faces stigma or is deprived of medical treatment. Cooperative behavior with utmost care and cordiality helps boost the morale of patients and in early recovery.
Our fight against the pandemic has nothing to do with the political or other conflict of interest. And it should not be either. Corona virus is an invisible common enemy. It is, therefore, absolutely unfair to use the fight against the pandemic to serve the interests of contending parties or as an instrument of intrigue or maneuvering. I would like to reiterate that, at this difficult hour, the Government cannot shy away from its obligations with regard to the protection of people’s life and their treatment. And it hasn’t done either. Therefore, for protection of people’s health and life, I request everyone to strictly follow the guidelines published by the Government. In this period, it is advisable to practice proper methods of all kinds of medical systems. In doing so, concerned experts and physicians should be consulted to follow appropriate guidelines or to take medicines. It is important to pay utmost attention to matters such as compulsory use of mask, social distancing, additional attention to hygiene, consumption of fresh food, drinking hot water, and the use of domestic goods with medicinal values as prescribed by physicians of the concerned fields.
For the protection of people from COVID-19, doctors, nurses and other health workers, security personnel, civil servants, social workers, people’s representatives, philanthropic organizations and individuals have been constantly active on their respective fronts. With the spirit of humanitarian service, they have withstood each danger and difficulty. I appreciate with high esteem all individuals and institutions for their contributions and round-the-clock dedication.
As we celebrate Bada Dashain this year, I express sorrow on the loss of lives due to COVID-19 infection and convey my deep condolences to the bereaved family members. I wish speedy recovery of all sisters and brothers who have fallen sick due to infection.
To stay oneself protected and protect the relatives is the priority now.
I, therefore, humbly request all of you to celebrate Bada Dashain at your respective places wherever you are.
Taking into consideration the possible risk of infection, I have instructed not to make arrangements this year for the ‘Bada Dashain Public Tika Program’ in the Prime Minister’s residence.
We, the Nepalis, have been facing every difficulty courageously and with ease. This pandemic is also putting us on the test. I am confident that, with discipline, high morale, alertness and mutual cooperation, we can defeat it.
I extend best wishes of the Bada Dashain 2020!