Until some years ago, at this time of the year, Prasanna Khatiwada (12) of Biratnagar, along with his sisters, would always go to an open space nearby his house to play linge ping, a traditional swing.
Whenever Dashain came, they used to get excited to play linge ping. They would desperately wait to see the swing in that open space as the swing would only be installed during Dashain. Khatiwada and his friends used to spend their entire day swinging.
But, now, things have changed. Prasanna has not gone to that place to play the swing and it has been three years since the locals last made a linge ping for Dashain.
“After the Covid outbreak, the locals have stopped making the swing. They have either lost interest in it or have gone abroad,” says Kumar Khatiwada, Prasanna’s father.
There are some other people too who blame the pandemic for the disappearance of the key activity during Dashain. But, the pandemic’s impacts are no more strong, yet, where they have gone now is something that fans like Prasanna wonder about.
No purpose now?
There is a reason behind playing swing during Dashain. Traditionally, it is believed that one must leave the ground once a year by playing the swing during the Dashain festival.
According to cultural experts, playing swing just does not offer entertainment but is also beneficial to health and it equally makes the body active and fresh. Similarly, playing swing also helps in improving digestion and mental health.
“Usually, during Dashain, people regularly tend to eat meat and other heavy food items, and playing a swing can help them digest their food,” says Jagaman Gurung, a veteran cultural expert.
Meanwhile, the linge ping venue is also believed to be a place where the boys and girls would meet and try to impress each other. Many have even found their beloved during the time of Dashain while playing swing.
It hence seems the tradition of making linge pings began to fade away as people found other alternatives to address their concerns that this activity had served.
Children moving indoors
Bharat Poudel (25) of Jhapa recalls the time when there used to be a couple of swings near his house. All those swings used to be occupied by locals and everyone used to stand in the queue to get their turn.
But, in recent times, he has not seen any swing in the same area, even during Dashain.
There used to be a time when the charm of playing the swing during Dashain would be at the next level. In every neighbourhood, there used to be at least a couple of swings. But, now, it is hard to find a single swing in many places.
He has even not seen the excitement of playing the linge ping among children as he used to have when he was a child. He believes it is due to the advancement of technology. Unlike earlier, children these days prefer to stay indoors and spend entire days using electronic devices.
Gurung also dubs Poudel regarding the declining charm of playing the swing. He adds that these days there are many alternatives for entertainment, due to which playing swing has not become the priority.
Due to their active engagement in electronic devices, people have forgotten their traditional activities, he adds.
Youth moving abroad
Meanwhile, Poudel also observes that most of the youth who used to set up linge pings have moved abroad either for study or employment. “That’s why the number of swings in recent times has decreased.”
Meanwhile, Gurung adds, “The shrinking space in both urban and rural areas is also one of the root causes for the decrease in the tradition of constructing swings.”
Gurung believes if this trend keeps up at the same pace, the tradition of playing linge pings will face a more challenging situation in the coming days.
There must be something done to preserve this beautiful tradition, he says.
“From a community level, we should work on building mechanisms or ideas that would promote the tradition of playing swings during Dashain,” says Gurung.