COVID-19 scare keeps most revelers indoors

Kathmandu, March 9

A large number of Nepalis, especially youths who would otherwise enthusiastically indulge in celebrating Holi, the festival colours, refrained from smearing colourful powders and throwing water balloons at each other in the capital making this year’s Holi celebrations less lively.

Most of the people chose not to celebrate Holi in the public and limited themselves to a small group of family members, relatives and friends. As a result, places such as Basantapur and Thamel, which used to draw hordes of revellers in the previous years, were not so crowded although many did turn up for the festivities.

Earlier, the government had also urged the public to avoid public gatherings, mass meetings, public ceremonies and festivities such as Holi with a bid to control the possible coronavirus outbreak.

More than 3,800 people across 104 countries have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the past two months.

The government had told the public not organise public events after the World Health Organisation included Nepal in the list of countries vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreak.

Holi, also called Fagu Purnima or Fagu is a festival of colours and merry making, where people smear colours on the faces of their loved ones, family members and friends. People also throw water-filled balloons at each other.

This year, due to fear of the virus, people refrained from throwing water-filled balloons commonly known as lola. Many see this as a positive change. In the past, the tendency of hurling balloons filled with dirty water from rooftops and windows of houses used to cause inconvenience pedestrians, sometimes even leading to accidents.

Today, in Basantapur and Thamel areas, people were seen celebrating the festival wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “We were hoping to see at least some crowd and musical events in Basantapur. But there was hardly any crowd let alone the musical events,” said Sabina Karki, 29, of Kaushalter.

A vendor, who was selling Holi colours at Baneshwor, said the number of people were almost ten times fewer than the previous years. “I used to earn Rs 40,000 to 50,000 selling colour powders during Holi, but this year I have hardly been able to sell colour powder worth even