Streets of Kathmandu that would have otherwise been brimming with women in red singing at intersections were deserted on Friday during this year’s Tij festival. Forty of Nepal’s 77 districts are under strict or partial lockdown amid a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Nepal registered 838 new Covid-19 cases on Friday taking the total to over 30,000. There were 11 more fatalities, with 137 deaths so far.
Pashupati, where fasting women used to line up the whole day at the Shiva temple, was completely empty on Friday. The only people there were mourners who were waiting to cremate relatives by the banks of the Bagmati, swollen by monsoon rain. Kathmandu Valley has become a Covid-19 hotspot in the past two weeks.
Most Nepali women regard Tij as ‘their day’, it is when married women traditionally travel to their parents’ homes to feast and fast, it is a time to make merry and for just one day forget their troubles and hardships. Tij is about getting together and congregating, but that is not possible during the lockdown, so women across Nepal have found innovative ways to mark the festival this year.
And like with everything else in the era of physical distancing, women have taken to the internet. Sisters Apara and Ajapa Sharma have turned to SoundCloud, an online audio platform, to create a podcast about Tij.
“We grew up listening and dancing to Tij songs,” says Apara, “making a podcast was basically us reflecting on our heritage and tradition that we grew up with. It was our way of celebrating Tij.”