Hindu women have been celebrating Haritalika Teej festival with much enthusiasm and fervour across the country. The occasion has witnessed the organisation of various Teej programmes, either cultural or musical, even a month before wherein participating women dance and sing and feast on delicacies.
However, the women sheltering in an old age home in Devghat, are untouched by such excitements stemming from Teej festival. They feel depressed and sad every year when the festival comes. What they are forced to do is to recall their youth when they were traditionally called by their parents and offered various delicacies in the festival. Nowadays, gone are those days for the elderly women as they are abandoned or are less cared for by their children.
Shuvadra Pudasaini, 88, of Bhimphedi in Makawanpur district is emotional when festivals like Teej come. She is taking a shelter in an old age home (Devghat Social Welfare Centre) run by the Devghat Area Development Committee.
“For me, there are not any relatives when I am in pain and when festivals come. What I can do is just to recall my past events,” she wailed, recalling the events wherein she called her daughter and friends and relatives and offered them dar (various delicacies) eaten by observing women on just the previous day of the festival day.
“Now, I feel dejected when the festival is around the corner.” She has lost her eyesight due to age problem and has got her hearing retained. “My children should not bear what I am going through,” she wished.
She is cast aside after her husband died much earlier. Her only daughter, son-in-law and grandsons and granddaughters do not visit her. Neither have they inquired about her.
Laxmi Maya Shrestha, 72, has been living in the same old age home since 10 years. “Our community do not celebrate Teej. But we used to enjoy others observing the festival,” she said. Recalling the events wherein she would enjoy sweet delicacies, she said, “Our days are somehow passed on normal days. But, it pains when festivals arrive.”
Shrestha who had arrived the old age home with the passing away of her spouse at an early age said the Teej revived her childhood memories at her maternal home. As she claimed, she hoped to get the support of her brothers to run the life after the death her husband, but her expectation ruined and finding herself alone at all, she decided to take a refuge at the Ashram. “Now this is my life and it is not changeable. I must to be happy here as I am,” she said.
Shanti Ghimire, 71, from Lamjung is living here with her spouse. The childless couple found the Ashram as the suitable place for them to spend their old life. According to her, they memorize the name of good in the festival. “We have no relatives and we realise our day are over to celebrate and enjoy the festival.”
The Ashram dwellers said they are here as none is there in the family circle to take care of them. They share past with each other for self-consolation.
Durga Lamichhane, 73, is unmarried and has been staying her for the past eight year. She found her helpless and totally alone with the demise of her parents.
She was about to burst into tears while recalling days with her mother. The recollection of joy gives her pain in an old age” Now health also does not permit to indulge in delicacies and sometimes I feel would be comfortable for me if I remain unaware of the festivals arrivals.”
Thirty-three people are living as a single family in the Ashram. Though it is the government-run facility, it frequently gets donations on various occasions.
Devghat Area Development Committee executive director, Dhiran Babu Ghimire said they are conscious of preparing and offering special treats on occasions of various festivals to the Ashram residents so that they would not be home sick.