Sabita Panta says she makes it a point to buy new clothes during Dashain because that’s what her parents always did. And that’s what they have conditioned her to do as well. Thus she was recently at Civil Mall in Sundhara, Kathmandu, shopping for clothes with her husband and two sons.
But because our tradition calls for new clothes doesn’t seem to be the only reason why people go shopping during Dashain. Quite a few people this scribe spoke to cited sales and offers that go on during this time as the main reason why they chose to buy new clothes.
Rakshya Rana, data analyst, says this is when she stocks up on some new clothes for the upcoming winter season. Rana says that many stores offer up to 70% discounts on old stock that they want to clear before restocking for the winter season. This year, she has bought two heavy-duty jackets and three sweaters. And, what’s more, she spent only Rs 4700 on them.
“The same things would have cost me over Rs 10,000 if I had bought them later on,” she says.
However, this culture of buying new clothes seems to be a common one among many families in Nepal. Prasamsha Parajuli, who is currently studying in grade 10 at Little Angels’ School, was also out buying clothes with her parents and brother. But it’s only Prasamsha and her brother who buy new clothes in Dashain. Her parents say that wearing new clothing doesn’t excite them anymore.
However, her family does shop for food and beverages. Prasamsha says that her family finishes their entire Dashain shopping in a single day because they list out everything they have to buy beforehand and stick to the list.
For Sadhana Dhakal, Dashain takes on a literal meaning of the phrase ‘Shop till you drop’. She mentions that ever since she started working, her family members expect her to give money during the Dashain tika. So she’s decided to turn this custom that she previously found unnecessary and annoying into an activity she enjoys – she gifts everyone clothes instead of giving them money.
Dhakal explains that clothes feel more personal than money and because she spends some time asking people about their preferences before buying anything, her family members usually like and wear what she gets for them.
“There are also a lot of sales going on around this time so buying clothes is lighter on the wallet than putting money in envelopes,” she says adding that, unlike Rana, she actually buys lots of summer clothing for herself as stores put them out for stock clearance at amazingly low prices. “I only buy basic pieces as trendy clothing will go out of style by the time summer rolls around,” she says.
Like Dhakal, 19-year-old Rupak Shah, takes full advantage of the Dashain discounts offered at various shops. He mentions that he has been making all of his big electronic purchases during Dashain for the last two years now. He actually starts saving up to buy the next gadget on his bucket list as soon as the Tihar festivities die down. This year he’s looking to buy a new camera. He has already picked out a few models he is interested in and will spend the next few days visiting different stores to compare their prices and check out the discounts before deciding on the best offer.
Likewise, beautician Jamuna Ghale mentions that her family makes most of their big purchases during Dashain. This year, her husband bought a new motorcycle and although he had been talking about upgrading his ride for more than three months, he actually held off his plans till Dashain. Besides that, all her family members bought a new set of clothes for tika.
Besides taking advantage of the ongoing discounts and schemes, another commonality in Dashain shopping among families is how people make it a task for the entire family. Most shoppers this scribe spoke to were accompanied by at least one other individual from their family.
“It makes shopping more fun,” says Runal Manandhar who was out shopping with her mother and sisters. Usually their shopping squad also includes all of their (Manandhar and her sisters’) children and they buy clothes and all the items they need for various pujas during Dashain. After all of that is done, Manandhar goes on a final shopping trip with her husband to buy clothes for the two of them and pick up other little things they might have forgotten to buy for the house earlier on.
Similarly, 23-year-old Jamuna Darai, who works as a receptionist at a media agency, says that she and her cousins go shopping together. She mentions that because the market and shops – especially clothing stores which are the kind of shops she visits with her cousins the most – are incredibly crowded during Dashain, she is a little intimidated to go shopping alone. For this Dashain, she has bought a new set of clothes to wear on tika and mentions that since they celebrate Dashain at her father’s family home – in Damauli – the elders in her family buy everything they need for the puja and the feast.
Sanjay Vaidya, an engineer, says his family loves shopping during Dashain because it’s fun. “Everyone is out shopping and you just love the vibe of it,” he says adding that though they don’t necessarily buy clothes, each member of his family buys something new. “My wife bought a bag and shoes, I think. My son got new sneakers and a really cool jacket. But he also made me buy him a watch citing Dashain as the reason,” says Vaidya.
A few youngsters – all +2 and college students – this scribe spoke to confessed that Dashain is when they buy things they don’t really need, because they can – they have the money for it. Apparently, it isn’t necessity but the thrill of shopping that makes them visit malls and markets during this time of the year. The youngsters spent anywhere between Rs 5000 to Rs 15000 each during Dashain.
“My parents give me money to buy something for myself. And I spend it on shoes, jeans, and recharge cards,” says Samridh Giri who is currently applying to colleges in the US and Australia. His friend, Akriti Rai, also says that she spends the money her parents give her on clothes, new books, and accessories like purses and earrings.
“I spent around Rs 2500 buying a pretty neckpiece and two pairs of huge earrings to wear with traditional clothes during tika,” says Rai adding that her parents give her money to buy whatever she wants during Dashain without her having to ask for it.
For many, Dashain thus seems to be a time to buy something – anything – new. The fact that it’s a season of sales also entices many people. “When the whole city seems to be shopping, you just feel like joining in on the fun. And because it’s a custom of sorts, you can actually justify spending money unnecessarily,” concludes Giri.