We are in the midst of Dashain, the biggest festival of the Hindus. The entire nation is in abuzz with excitement and everyone is in the mood of celebration. Tens of thousands of people in Kathmandu have left for their native villages or hometowns to celebrate the festival with their family and relatives. They reach home with new clothes and other gifts for their kith and kin who eagerly wait for their arrival. Dashain holds a special significance in the Nepali society as it serves as an occasion for the reunion of several generations of family members and relatives. The festival is observed to commemorate the victory of good over evil, so it generates positive vibes among the people. On the 10th day of the festival, seniors offer tika and jamara to juniors as the prasad of Goddess Durga, who is supposed to have killed Mahisasur. Dashain is also celebrated in memory of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
However, for many elderly citizens in the Kathmandu Valley and other parts of the country, Dashain is not a happy occasion though everyone in their community is having a great time. According to a news report in this daily, many elderly couples in the capital valley are deprived of the joys and happiness the festival is supposed to bring. This is because all of their sons and daughters have settled abroad in pursuit of lucrative careers and other opportunities and can’t come home to celebrate the festival with their parents. In some cases, these elderly people are single, so their degree of loneliness must be unimaginable. These elderly citizens may be rich materially, but what they need most is the love of their children. Ironically, they have set other priorities. So, the parents are left in disregard for years, some in the care of nurses but most are left to fend for themselves.
Migration of young people to advanced countries in search of better opportunities has emerged as a serious problem in Nepal. Many leave the country for higher education in the United States, Europe or Australia. But very few return home after they complete their education. This has hampered the country doubly; on the one hand the nation loses qualified human resource that could be otherwise mobilised for its development, and on the other parents are left without any support when they need it the most. And the problem seems to be growing over the years demanding everyone’s attention so that the suffering of the elderly citizens can be minimised. The best solution would be one or another son or daughter staying back to take care of the ailing parents. That is, however, an ideal proposition; human beings are always on the move in search of better life and the parents have no option but to face the reality. Here is where the society and the state can play their role; they should make arrangements to bring these senior citizens together where they can share their feelings with each other and celebrate the festival collectively.