Dashain: A sad affair for Bhutanese refugeesThere are several other refugee families in the camp who share a similar view on Dashain, or any other festivals for that matter. Festivals are not quite like it when one is not in their homeland.
Bhutanese refugee Padmalal Pokhrel has stayed at Beldangi camp in Jhapa for the past 25 years. Every year when Dashain arrives, he said the entire camp is pervaded by a sense of gloom. “It may very well be the greatest Hindu festival, but not for us refugees,” said Pokharel. “How could we be merry when we are away from our country?”
There are several other refugee families in the camp who share a similar view on Dashain, or any other festivals for that matter. Festivals are not quite like it when one is not in their homeland.
“We get lonely here, don’t quite feel like celebrating,” said Dail Mahat. “This place is not our home. And whenever the festival season arrives that feeling hits us more than ever.”
The reason for many refugee families to become sad during festivals has got stronger as many of their friends and relatives are no longer with them in the camp. Many refugees have left for other countries as part of the third country resettlement programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“The UNHCR has separated our family. We cannot
celebrate the festivals even if we wanted to,” said Abhinarayan Dhakal.
According to him, most members of his family have left Nepal under the third country resettlement programme.
Sixty-three-year-old Dhanman Khadka said he gets sad whenever he hears Dashain music playing on radios and TV stations.
“It is depressing because most of my close relatives and friends are no longer here.”