Dashain is the main festival of the Nepalis, and it symbolises the victory of good over evil. The festival takes place in September or October, beginning with Shukla Paksha (bright lunar night) and ending with Purnima (the full moon).

Preparations for the Dashain celebrations have begun with crowds of people shopping at Ason and Indrachowk. However, the charm and merriment have somewhat become subdued in recent times, largely because many of us have lost someone dear or well-wishers to theCOVID-19 pandemic and also due to modernisation.

Dashain is an eagerly-awaited festival as it is the only time we tend to return to our villages to be with our family members and relatives for a sort of reunion.

Dashain is a time for rejoicing when we gather to spend a wonderful time, says Juliyana Shah of Koteshwor.

"However, I don't feel the same kind of excitement these days. There would be kites flying in the sky, swings on the ground, and Dashain had a different kind of vibe 10-15 years ago, but the situation is different now," says Shah.

"Rather than being a festival to receive blessings from our elders, Dashain has become an occasion for showing off and has lost its essence."

When I was in school, the level of happiness and excitement used to be different. Plans to purchase new clothing are long gone. Kids nowadays aren't as enthusiastic as we used to be about new clothes. Maybe it's because people go shopping and travelling as and when they feel like it.

And I think all the kids of the 90's remember this. We used to give out greeting cards to our friends in school by borrowing money from our parents. Many of us have a collection of them even today.

In the villages, people would be busy plastering their houses with red mud, preparing beaten rice, exchanging new bank notes, erecting swings in the fields, and playing langur burja, a game of dice.

My grandmother says so much effort went into getting ready for the Dashain festival as it required money and preparing food for the guests, which were scarce in the villages then.

Today, when I recall those moments, I feel nostalgic. There is no excitement, no planning. I celebrate Dashain for the sake of celebrating.

Seeing how the festival's celebratory pattern has changed over the years makes me tense at times. People should, thus, be thinking about how we ought to be celebrating Dashain and other festivals in the changed context, and how we can pass on the tradition and cultural values to our children and grandchildren. Dashain is our ancestors' gift to us, and we should celebrate it in our own unique way.

A version of this article appears in the print on October 5, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.