Curtailing of Deusi-Bhailo hours draws criticismKathmandu CDO cites law and order problem. Experts suggest authorities should instead close liquor shops and bars early and prohibit use of loudspeakers at night.
For Biraj Bhattarai, Tihar used to be his favourite festival during his childhood. He and his friends used to play Deusi till midnight in their neighbourhood at Kuleshwar. It was the only time of the year their parents would allow them to be out till so late at night.
Bhattarai is 35 now, and for over half a decade, he has seen authorities in Kathmandu limiting the Deusi-Bhailo hours. In doing so, Bhattarai believes that the authorities are denying the children and youths of today the experience of Deusi-Bhailo, an integral part of the Tihar festival.
This year also the District Administration Offices of Kathmandu Valley has banned Deusi Bhailo after 9pm, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“But the authorities have been banning late night Deusi Bhailo since before the pandemic. They always make excuses,” said Bhattarai.
Rmesh Karki, 42, a resident of Satdobato, Lalitpur feels the same way as Bhattarai.
“The government is simply overreacting. If it is concerned about security, it should mobilise police to patrol the neighbourhoods. It can also enforce health and safety measures against Covid-19,” said Karki. “The government is instead curtailing culture.”
Karki also questioned the authorities for not taking the same stern position when it comes to Christmas parties and New Year celebrations.
The government’s decision to ban Deusi-Bhailo after 9pm has also drawn criticism on social media platforms.
Film director Dipendra Kumar Khanal expressed his annoyance through a Facebook post where he took a swipe at the authorities for allowing clubs and discotheques to operate till midnight and curtailing the Deusi-Bhailo hours.
Khanal’s Facebook post thread is replete with criticism of the government.
Some cultural experts have also shown their concerns.
“I am not convinced this restriction is due to Covid-19. If the authorities were really concerned about the pandemic, then they would have curtailed other festivals and gatherings as well,” said Om Dhaubhadel, a culture expert.
“Instead of preserving the culture, the authorities are trying to destroy it. If this practice continues the new generation will forget the essence of Deusi-Bhailo.”
If the government is concerned about law and order, Dhaubhadel suggested that the authorities fix the issues that need fixing, like closing liquor shops and bars early and prohibiting the use of loudspeakers.
When the Post contacted Kathmandu Chief District Officer Govinda Prasad Rijal and asked the reason for limiting the Deusi-Bhailo hours, he said the decision was made after considering both sides of the issue.
“Police can’t manage crowds if we allow the public to play Deusi-Bhailo throughout the night. The revellers will obviously get drunk and misbehave,” said Rijal.
“Besides that people create unwanted noise at night, and it’s hard to prevent,” he added.