For the elderly at the old-age home in Pashupati, Dashain is among themselvesThe old-age home celebrates the festival in small ways—by providing the senior citizens with a tika ceremony, a small cash gift and new clothes to wear.
Dashain is a time when a lot of people leave the Capital for their homes to celebrate the festival with their families. But for the senior citizens who live in the old-age home in Pashupati, the festivities are just a sore reminder of just how alone they are.
Lila Bahadur Raut of Dakshinkali has been living in the old-age home for the last 25 years. Raut, 76, is visually impaired. For a family, he has two sons: his elder son lives and works in Kathmandu while his younger son is in Australia.
“My sons visit, but rarely. I had asked them to take me along with them but they refused, saying that they didn’t have space in the rented room they were living in,” said Raut. “They say they will take me with them if they are able to build their own home, but I have no hope now.”
But in an effort to keep the air cheery for the festive season, authorities at Pashupati Briddhashram celebrate the festival in small ways. Raut himself has been celebrating Dashain for the last 25 years with others at the home.
“Although our families don’t support us, the government does, by providing us with shelter, food and medical facilities. We recently received new clothes to wear during Dashain too,” Raut shared with the Post.
The old-age home at Pashupati is the only home run by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Council, and shelters 150 elderly people. It houses elderly people who have either been kicked out of their homes by their offspring or feel neglected at home.
Purna Bahadur Thapa, 86, of Nuwakot, has been living in the old-age home for the last 10 years. Thapa has three daughters living in Kathmandu but none visit him regularly.
“During Dashain, they take me with them to put tika on their foreheads. After that, they leave me back here,” Thapa told the Post. “I want to live with my family, but there is nothing I can do about it.”
To make the elderly feel at home during the festival season, authorities at the old-age home make sure that everyone celebrates Dashain together by observing all the rituals. “We exchange tika and the office provides delicious food with some money as a gift for Dashain,” said Krishna Prasad Kandel, an official at the elderly home.
According to authorities, at the old-age home, they only take in people who are above 60 years of age, have Nepali citizenship, and a recommendation letter from the local government stating that the person has no one to take care of them and has no property. However, they have been accommodating people who do not meet these requirements as well.
“There are so many elderly people at the home who have family, and according to policy they shouldn’t be here, but we let them stay because they have no one else to take care of them,” said Kandel, temporary office chief at the elderly home. “They have no place to go.”