KATHMANDU, March 9: Thousands of people gathered at Basantapur, Patan, Tundikhel and other parts of the valley to welcome the arrival of spring with colors and joy on Monday despite the government request not to participate in the public events including the Holi to contain the possible outbreak of coronavirus.
The festival of colors is celebrated with fanfare in the hilly regions of Nepal today, smearing colors and drenching each other.
However, the participation of people was fewer than the previous years. Those who joined the elaborated celebrations were mostly locals from the ancient towns of the valley.
“I wanted to go to Basantapur with my friends and have a lot of fun. But nobody wants to mix in the gatherings today…so I decided to stay home,” said Krishna Bhandari, a local resident of Bhaktapur.
Majority of people from other parts of the city celebrated the festival with their family members and in small groups while some chose to stay home as a precautionary measure to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Although the virus outbreak has not hit Nepal hard yet, with only one confirmed case so far, the World Health Organization has placed the country under high risk.
A host of events, including Holi, has been hit by the coronavirus fears in the country.
The government has put the Visit Nepal 2020 publicity campaign on hold and canceled flights from and to COVID-19 hit countries to avoid the spread of coronavirus, that has killed nearly 3,792 people and infected more than 109,000 in 99 countries and territories since it was first detected in Wuhan, China in late Dec last year.
Several other events like Everest Premier League, Bhaktapur Festival 2020 have also been affected by virus.
Photos: Mukunda Kalikote