The days that are no more: Covid-19 restriction on linge ping sparks reminisce of past Dashains

Can one imagine Dashain without linge pings (traditional swings set up with a rope and bamboo poles)?

Well, the answer of the majority would be ‘No’ as linge pings stand synonymous with Dashain to many who observe this festival. During every Dashain in the past, each locality or village built at least one linge ping. However, due to the lack of open space (in cities) and human resources (in the villages), this practice is gradually fading.

Adding to this, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the urge of the government to not make a linge ping this year (so as to combat the spread of this virus), a very few linge pings are being made in the cities as well as the villages this year. Consequently, they have to celebrate this Dashain without swinging. They might feel betrayed as elders in their society always believed detaching themselves from the earth for a moment after the Dashain Tika would give them virtues.

As the value of the linge pings for generations is irreplaceable, many who cannot swing this year say this is the need of the situation. They say they have to understand this and enjoy in the safest way possible making the use of their past memories with the linge pings and waiting for the next year to somehow compensate this loss.

Here, we share with you memories of some people who reminisce their beautiful old Dashain memories with linge pings although they cannot enjoy the facility this year.

‘Besides swinging, the making of a ping was also fun’

Sanup Shrestha (M), 40, Nuwakot

I vividly remember those jolly Dashain days when I used to accompany my father and other elders of my locality in the making of the linge ping. I think I was different. Mostly, children used to enjoy swinging in the ping, but, in contrast, I was there, smiling and watching those people making swing with my curious eyes, admiring their efforts. My father and other seven/eight seniors used to gather and discuss the making of the ping 10/11 days prior to Dashain. As per the discussion, each group were provided respective jobs of collecting ideal bamboo or sal wood for the base of the ping and getting babiyo (grass) so as to make a rope. It indeed was fun in swinging, but I used to find a different kind of enjoyment and solace witnessing this overall swing-making process.

As of now, things have changed. I also have changed. Also, this pandemic has created such a circumstance that I cannot even leave the land after the Tika this year, which used to be a must for my elders.

‘When adults acted like children…’

Kalpana Sapkota (F), 42, Dhading

With the arrival of Dashain, I could feel the enjoyment and serenity of togetherness spread in every breeze. I used to enjoy this festival to the fullest with my siblings. Amid all the fun regarding different pujas, playing cards, and various house chores, the thing for which I would be excited the most was ping (swing). It used to be so much fun with my siblings, going to the open playground nearby, waiting for our turn for hours and then finally getting a chance to release our body freely in the air, swinging. Our elders used to say it is a must to leave the land for a moment after the Dashain Tika. It was so fun seeing all people, mostly those adults and old people, with carefree and childlike demeanour returning to them, making themselves free from their stressful and chaotic life though just for a moment.

But now, a lot has changed. I am no longer a kid; I have my own kids now, I am an adult with a lot of responsibilities on and of course locked up due to the pandemic. The same enjoyment is not possible today and it is for our good. But, I missed them dearly and I hope the condition would get better and normal so we could compensate for this emptiness next year.

‘Memories matter when you don’t have it for real’

Sudarshan Budhathoki (M), Kathmandu

During our times, we, the young lads, were vested the responsibility to make a ping (swing) a nearby ground. It was a big task to accomplish. We were a group of seven to eight people, all my friends, and I used to lead them. We had to first get the babiyo (grass), dry them in sun and soak in water to make a rope. Braiding them into the rope was fun, although tiring. Completing the braid, we used to head for cutting bamboos for the base. And, finally, with all these, we used to get the ping (swing) finally ready. Within a few minutes, people used to gather to play swing there. Seeing them having fun, laughing, playing and having the happiest time, I used to heave a sigh of breath full of contentment. It used to be so overwhelming.

And yeah, of course, in today’s pandemic and difficult situation, these things are not possible (for our own sake). But, I’ll be fine with these memories. Otherwise, what is the use of these memories?

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Budhathoki was a correspondent at Onlinekhabar from February 2020 to February 2022.

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