Thousands disregard lockdown to observe festival in Bajhang

DHANGADI: Thousands of people gathered to celebrate Banni Ki Chaitali in Chhabis Pathibhera Rural Municipality-3 of Bajhang district, defying the nationwide lockdown enforced by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19, on Monday.

Locals disregarded the government's announcement to stay indoors and not leave their homes unless in case of an emergency. They came together in huge numbers at Kandel and celebrated the annual Chaitali festival.

The festival in which people worship Masta deity is famous throughout the far-western province.

The district administration decided to not observe the festival this year and had even deployed security personnel in various locations, however, locals did not heed the notice and participated in the festival, informed Chief District Officer of Bajhang, Ashok Pandey.

According to Radhika Ratala, deputy chair of the rural municipality, the local level had made a decision to not go ahead with the festival on March 30, however, locals did not comply and attended in thousands. Ratala claimed that lakhs of people participated in the festival in the previous years.

It has been reported that among the migrant workers who entered Nepal from India, many are in Chhabis Pathibhera with 279 persons returning from India in Kandel alone. The whole rural municipality has 459 people returning from India and two from Qatar after the global outbreak of coronavirus.