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The Advent of Navratri marks the beginning of the biggest festival of the Nepali community in Sikkim and across the world - Dasain.
Known also as Vijaya Dashami, people celebrate the festival by visiting relatives and elders - usually from cities to villages.
However, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Dasain celebrations will be a subtle affair as families will have no choice but to not go out on their visits.
Many from the state capital will not be travelling this festive season.
For Sumitra Subba, an entrepreneur in the hospitality sector, going to her native village in West Sikkim during Dasain festival is a yearly routine. This year, however, she will be in Gangtok.
“I have ailing parents, and we are in contact with so many tourists. I fear they may come in contact with the virus,” she said.
Experts have also urged people to take the utmost precautions while travelling.
Meanwhile, state health secretary Pempa Bhutia said that because of the present pandemic, it is advisable to celebrate the festival indoors.
He has also said that there is no point in opting for quarantine within the state.
“There are no restrictions now as people are travelling. I urge people to maintain social distancing and all COVID protocols,” he said.
While wishing people, he said that the responsibility lies with the individual to keep one’s family safe because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ongoing situation has, however, not dampened the festive spirit with people doing some brisk shopping marking the festive atmosphere.
In Nepal and the Nepali speaking belt of India, including Sikkim and Darjeeling hills, the ten-day long festival of Dasain also marks Durga Puja.
On the tenth day, people visit each other to seek blessings from elders in the form of applying ‘Tika’ as a sign of divine blessings.
Devotees worship the nine forms of Goddess Durga for nine days and is called Navratri.
The auspicious occasion of Vijaya Dashami falls on the tenth day.