MIDWAY : Dashain and dakshina

What’s a body without a soul and a Dashain without dakshina? Last Dashain, my brother pocketed Rs. 900; he plans to hit the 1000 mark this time around. Even the elders are not immune from the expectation of Dashain largess to cover their reckless spending during the festive season.

Recently, I heard one of my relatives whisper to his wife: “It costs me Rs.150 to reach the uncle’s house but he gives me only Rs. 50 in dakshina. He’s out of my visit list this year.”

Both were totally engrossed in calculating how much they would make during the tika.

This festival is all about money, it seems. People can be seen queuing outside banks for new notes to pass around, not only among their “marriage” playing mates, but also among the relatives pulling a long face in the absence of crackling new notes along with tika and jamara. And when the school reopens after Dashain, the kids tend to talk more about how much each has received than about what they did during the festivities.

Many can be heard calculating the profitability of receiving tika in their mama ghar, as opposed to their homes, where the elders tend to tighten up the belt. After all, one can always brand one’s mama or maternal grandpa a modern day Midas if they feel short-changed.

I have little idea how the tradition of dakshina got started. It’s a widely-held belief that dakshina is given so that no one is left empty-handed during the festive season. But now, it’s become more of a fashion than a ritual.

The young folks do not seem to care about blessings unless a handsome dakshina is doled out.

I find it amazing how this festival has, particularly among young generation, come to be equated with a money-spinning opportunity. I also cannot understand the parents who tighten up the supply to their wards at other times but give with open hands during Dashain.

While we cannot expect the trend of dakshina to end anytime soon, why not, for the moment, indulge ourselves in celebrating the great festival with pomp and gaiety. Education can always wait. After all, schools don’t reopen till the Dashain din is drowned!