Despite efforts to preserve the cultural significance of Dashain, it has become evident that the festival failed to bring the same level of joy and enthusiasm as it did in the past. The prevailing factors contributing to this subdued atmosphere are a severe economic recession and the significant migration of young people from the country, resulting in a Dashain that falls short of its former grandeur.
In the weeks leading up to Dashain, business owners found themselves grappling with constant calls from banks, and even employees participated in the festivities with a palpable sense of disappointment. Businessmen observed that, compared to previous years when Dashain was celebrated with lavish grandeur, this year’s financial constraints have forced them to tone down their traditional celebrations.
Both private sector owners and their laborers encountered difficulties with reduced salaries and allowances. Even the police force faced challenges in securing funds, especially with the notable absence of gamblers with substantial sums of money.
While the police made efforts to control gambling activities, no gamblers with significant amounts were found this year. One officer mentioned, “Even when we apprehended 15 people, there was no chance of prosecuting the case if they didn’t possess Rs 30,000.” This further underscores the financial strains affecting the community.
In comparison to previous years, there was a notable decrease in business activity and smaller markets, leading to a less vibrant atmosphere during Dashain. The expectations of a bustling market during the festival did not materialize, and there was also a significant decline in the movement of people throughout the city.
Rishi Paudel, a poultry businessman, attributed the lack of enthusiasm during Dashain to the economic recession and the departure of young manpower. He explained, “The lack of excitement during Dashain can be attributed to the economic recession and the migration of young manpower.” This phenomenon was evident in the reduced sales of goats and chickens during Dashain, as common citizens faced financial constraints.
It is apparent that many families celebrated Dashain this year primarily to uphold cultural traditions, as the widespread impact of economic difficulties has left many unable to fully enjoy the festival. The combination of economic challenges and the outflow of young talent has undeniably cast a shadow over this year’s Dashain celebrations in Kathmandu.