Ongoing protests, blockade subdue Deepawali, Chhath fervourThe ongoing protests in the Tarai have subdued the fervour and excitement with which Deepawali and Chhath are celebrated in the plains.
The ongoing protests in the Tarai have subdued the fervour and excitement with which Deepawali and Chhath are celebrated in the plains. People of Aadarshanagar, Maisthan, Ghantaghar in Birgunj, the flash point of ongoing Madhes protests, are planning to celebrate the festivals in the simplest way possible.
Deepawali and Chhath festivals in which glittering lights are the major attractions will be celebrated this year with sombre hues, say Birgunj locals. “The city has ground to a halt; seven people have lost their lives in the past three months. There is hardly any excitement about celebrating the festivals,” they say. Marketplaces opened five days ago in Birgunj but businessmen pointed at lack of business in the area, with hardly anyone in the mood to shop.
Pradip Kediya of the Birgunj chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry said people do not have money to spend as they could barely earn due to the protests.
On the day of Kaag Tihar, the first day of Yamapanchak, Dhanteras festival used to celebrated in a grand way, but this time the bazaar area wore a deserted look, with no or minimal movement of people. Bikki Sarraf, a shopkeeper at Maisthan, said there was no business at all on Dhanteras when people buy utensils, gold, silver and other stuff. In addition, prices of daily essentials have gone up due to the protest and Indian blockade, making it even harder for people to buy things.
The month-long curfew is still haunting Birgunj locals, said Kediya, adding that there is no mood for celebrations among locals this time. People have been hit hard due to the shortage of cooking gas and fuel, he said.
Meanwhile, local traders in Raxaul, India, that borders Birgunj, said their business activities too have been hugely affected due to the prolonged banda. Around 80 per cent of the market in Raxaul depends on Nepali customers. We have suffered huge losses, said Raxaul businessmen.