Dashain for exiled Bhutanese
Sitting within the four walls of our bamboo sheds in the refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang districts of eastern Nepal, we could see the vast expanse of the Tarai region preparing itself to welcome the most celebrated Nepali Hindu festivals Dashain and Tihar. The lush green paddy fields swaying against the soothing autumn breeze seemed to tell us to join them on this occasion. The localities seemed busy to procure and meet the demands of their children on these auspicious occasions with a sad story of financial constraint written on their faces. The adopted businessmen seemed satisfied to have pocketed handsomely from their sale proceedings and the indigenous lots looked desperate. The semi-naked trees shedding leaves to welcome the spring to let it nurture their young buds are the only solace to the down-trodden desperadoes from Bhutan.
We scanned further and saw the sun setting towards the western horizon leaving behind a pall of gloom for the next day to the Dragon victims. The setting sun indicated to us that it was going down under to spring back into normalcy the slumbering westerners to the much awaited pomp and show. The tired framers returning from their monotones work merged with the engulfing darkness, the flying and chirping birds heading towards their nesting’s dotted the orange sky and the herdsmen guiding their herds of cattle to their sheds reminded us that we too have a place to go but—where?
Our grey matter guided us to survey the camps. A glance into their hideout told us the genesis of their strange adventure. A sad mother at the kitchen site with tears on her eyes, the malnourished children around their mother demanding for their share and the father acting as an empire shows the preparations to welcome Lord Rama in the forbidden foreign land. The torn plastic roof tops, the drenched clothes and the condition of their scanty belongings tell us their state of affairs. Brushing the tears aside, the mother offered us tea-a gesture of serene love and respect of our ethnic civilization. A look in the cup of tea pictured Bhutan of the by-gone days. Everyday looked cheerfully engaged in out doing others for the preparation of the festive celebration. Happy to lucky children danced in unison and their parents tuned the music. Everybody thronged together to await the Tika ceremony by the King. The show sparked with a bang. Would you like to have some tea please? The subtle tone drifted us back to the tea cups.
The semi-clad children ask for any higher privileges other than a kilogram of meat during Dashain. A deeper insight in the camp reveals the fact.
Children are our most precious possessions and their satisfaction is our prime concern. A strong base at an early age to them is a strong foundation for a nation. To satisfy their demand is a gateway to their progressive development. Children are after all children. They observe their surroundings and learn a lot about it. A family, a society, a nation and the world of today depends upon these children as what they learn and adopt at their young and fertile brain. Dashain has a special significance to children and they love to enjoy it. Our children realize the sufferings of their parents and hence they do not bargain a heavy prize from them during Dashain. After all where is Dashain for them?
Our heart melts and runnels of tears trickle down our chiseled features to realize that we are incapacitated to satisfy the happiness of our children. They walk bare-footed for a balloon to the market-and return back disappointed as the balloon had burst. Only a true sufferer will realize the true meaning of the agony of love for one’s babus-when their demands are failed to be met.
The Dashain in the camps bring back the memories of lord Rama’s sacrifices for the good of mankind against the tyranny of the evil-doer and the Dashain in the camps saddens our heart to realize the sacrifice of our children to please the wrong-doers in the distant Dragon Kingdom Bhutan. The Dashain in the camps flood us with the remembrance of our children and parents in Bhutan and the Dashain too brings happiness and sadness.
The poor refugee children unaware of their whereabouts with reflection of existing history of a sad domestic plight on their innocent faces hop into nearby shop for a choice of their liking with a one rupee coin but the shopkeeper refuses to meet their requirement. They return back to their parents only to get a slap on their consistent demand for extra few bucks. With tears in their eyes, they survey other children amusing themselves with the items of their choice. The cracking sounds of the crackers in the neighboring areas and within the camps present a battle scenario to chase away the defeated and demoralized troops.
The multi-colored new dresses worn by the sufferers reflect a case of the survival of the fitters and of ‘haves’ versus the ‘haves not’. The lucky ones from Bhutan who had managed to escape with cash, bags and baggage’s are the fortunate lots and lie in wait for Dashain and their children rejoice the festival in merry state of mind whereas the poor victims are the real losers.
The world in which the men are the masters with supernatural brain software has become a very difficult place to ones’ survival. The crux of these problems is man himself. Animosity, jealousy, material greed and a feeling of superiority have tried to dominate the sphere of human activity. Hatred and ones’ prosperity are others’ jealousy. Denial of rights of livelihood by one race to the other race is a test of the time.
Mental prosperity has little or no value and it has been replaced by material prosperity with increasing greed for power. Every human being is born equal and has the right to exercise his concept of survival. Why have the same rights been denied to the Bhutanese Refugees? Haven’t they have right to celebrate Dashain in a short period of one’s life?
Refugee is a very simple word to pronounce but it is very difficult to live as a refugee. The true sufferings of the refugee life can be experimented by experience in the camps only and not by simple scanning their problems from a posh apartment building. This is the irony of fate of the human tragedy. God in haste could have made them suffer under the screen of human pathos. The fate of the Bhutanese children is unwritten. Let Rama and the Pashupati devotees of Nepal shower blessings to the handicapped Bhutanese Refugees on the eve of Dashain. Let The Lord Jesus Christ deliver these children from the sufferings of the refugee camps like the children of Israel were delivered from the oppressor Pharaoh of the Egypt (Bible, Exodus 3: 7-8) and were given good and large land to live.
After a long wait God has heard our prayers as thousands of these refugee children are resettled in third countries with the blessings of rebuilding homes and inspiring happiness at the new place. Let this resettlement bring lifelike result for all the acquaintances. We hope our identity and happiness with our most loved festivals Dashain is kept flourishing and the children rejoice at their new place and grow-up cultured with the vision to rewrite the destiny of troubled world.
Let the feelings of sympathy for these children emanate from the inner core of their heart and let the candle-lit Tihar radiate a spark of enlightenment to seek their identity wherever they are living. Let the wishes of the Bhutanese Refugees from the refugee camps in Eastern Nepal and from the resettled countries reach your eardrum for a happy Dashain and Tihar. With tears in our eyes we return back to our respective sheds to face the challenges ahead.