Spring Festival resonates in Nepal
By Sushil K. Lamsal  ·  2021-02-08  ·   Source: NO.6 FEBRUARY 11, 2021

This will be my fourth Spring Festival on the Chinese mainland since I arrived in Beijing in 2017. Spring Festivals have always been exciting times and fascinating occasions. This festival connects the modern with the ancient, and teaches so much about the Chinese—their hopes and aspirations, culture and history, and the common bonds that bind them together.

Every Chinese seeks to go back to his/her ancestral home, laojia, which is very much like in Nepal, where every Nepali goes back home during the Dashain Festival, which falls in October/November. Occasions like Spring Festival and Dashain provide an opportunity for introspection, for connecting with family and relatives and our ancestral places.

They remind us of where we come from, reflecting our common humanity and our common roots. They are as much a moment for enjoying life as spiritual refreshment and reawakening.

My first experience of Spring Festival was in 2008 in Hong Kong, the Year of the Rat. It was my first encounter with the Chinese world and culture, and also the year China would be hosting the Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 for the first time. So there was naturally much excitement and fanfare.

Since 2008, China has come a long way, and achieved great success in all aspects of national development. It has been fascinating to be in China witnessing all these changes over the past several years.

This year, we are bidding farewell to the Year of the Rat, and welcoming the Year of the Ox. I hear people saying "Niu nian da ji"—lots of good luck for the Year of the Ox! The Spring Festival last year was special, as will be this year's too, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the spirit that Spring Festival brings is very much there.

In some ways, it will also be an occasion to mark the success the Chinese have achieved in epidemic control and management. The Year of the Rat in 2020 taught humanity many important lessons, chief among which is that we are all faced with many unpredictable challenges lurking in the dark. It is absolutely essential that countries large and small, rich and poor, and developed and developing cooperate with each other in ensuring the survival and welfare of the human race. There is no alternative to joining hands together to fight the common enemy that we all face. This is the central message that we must all internalize.

I fervently hope that this year will free us from the pandemic and that the normal course of activities will resume again. I look forward to the day when we may again travel as conveniently as we used to before 2020. I am sure the Chinese will begin their foreign travels again, and Nepal will be one of their important destinations in the post-pandemic world.

There is already a basis of hope as many countries around the world, including Nepal and China, have begun to vaccinate their people against the novel coronavirus disease. I hope that by the next few months, the virus will begin to subside and our lives will eventually become normal.

Nepal is a mosaic of cultures and traditions—it is a land of 126 ethnic groups and 123 different languages. The zodiac systems of many of these ethnic groups have close similarities with the traditions of China. The Lhosar Festival, the celebration of the new year among many ethnic groups in the northern part of Nepal, has close resemblances to Spring Festival. The new year of the Tamang ethnic community, known as Sonam Lhosar, will be celebrated this year on February 12, the same day as the Spring Festival. It is a pointer to our shared heritage and past, as well as of the richness of mutual exchanges and interactions between our peoples in the past.

Despite the differences in calendrical systems or cultural practices, all Nepalis celebrate their new year festivals with families and friends as an occasion of renewal and hope, and look forward to the future with new aspirations and optimism.

I plan to spend this Spring Festival connecting with my Chinese friends to wish them all a happy and prosperous year ahead. 

The author is the deputy chief of mission at the Nepali Embassy in China

(Print Edition Title: A Reminder of Our Roots)

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

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