The festival of lights, known as Tihar, has officially begun, with the celebrations of Kaag and Kukur Tihar taking place on Wednesday. Due to the large number of people who are purchasing items for the celebrations, there is an increase in the sale of electric decorative lights throughout the country. During the festival of Tihar, it is said that Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, pays a visit to the houses of those who maintain their homes well-lit and clean. People decorate their homes with electric lights and butter lamps in order to entice the goddess into their abodes as a result of this tradition.
Electric festive lights worth more than Rs 350 million have been imported into the nation this year. It is a significant reduction in comparison with figures from the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. Nepal received ornamental lights worth more than Rs 600 million in 2018, according to official figures.
According to Komal Pokhrel, General Secretary of the Federation of Electrical Entrepreneurs of Nepal (FEEN), the influence of the pandemic was visible in the import of electrical appliances as well as decorative lighting. “As a result of the pandemic, the price of raw materials and petroleum has increased all across the world,” he explained. This had a negative impact on Nepal as well, since retailers brought in less decorative lights as a result of the COVID-19 ban as compared to the period prior to the ban.” He also stated that the pandemic made it difficult for vendors to go to China, which resulted in a decrease in the amount of electric lights imported into China.
Chinese decorative electrical lights account for 80 percent of overall imports, followed by Indian decorative electrical lights accounting for 15 percent and other countries accounting for the remaining five percent. Sesh Narayan Sapkota, the proprietor of Sapkota Lighting, stated that when it comes to these lights, Nepal is primarily reliant on Chinese suppliers.
He also provided some insight into how the cost of electrical lights has escalated in recent years when compared to earlier years. This is mostly because the government has increased the customs charge on electrical lighting, which is one of the primary causes for this. Earlier in the day, Sumin Man Shakya, a local resident of Kathmandu, was out purchasing ornamental lights for his just opened laptop business. “During Tihar, there is a significant demand for electrical lights,” he explained. However, when compared to previous years, the cost of these lights is significantly higher.”
According to Sapkota, the firm is experiencing a period of stagnation this year. ‘Even after the initial wave, the business continued to run smoothly.’ When it comes to lighting these decorative lights, however, individuals don’t appear to be as enthusiastic as they were before to the second wave of the coronavirus, according to him. “The use of these ornamental lights used to expand by five to ten percent every year,” says the author. It has, however, reduced to 17 percent this year.”
Tihar is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Hindu community in Nepal. As the tradition of lighting oil-fed lamps in a clay diyo is being phased out, decorative electrical lights have become an increasingly essential component of the event. There are a variety of other instances in which different sorts of lights are employed, such as disco lights, electric candles, and colorful tube lights, amongst others. According to Sapkota, while Nepal is fully reliant on China and India for such lights, it is difficult for Nepal to generate these lights on its own. “If we try to manufacture these lights on our own, the cost per foot may go as high as Rs 400-500,” says the author. When we import, however, the cost is only Rs 100-200,” he explained.
Furthermore, although these lights are only intended for use during the holiday season, this enterprise demands billions of rupees in capital expenditure. Considering that India is also struggling in this business, it is difficult to imagine Nepal becoming self-sufficient in this area given the current political uncertainty,” he continued.
However, according to Komal Pokhrel, General Secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Entrepreneurs (FEEN), Nepal has the capacity to be self-sufficient in terms of electric lighting. “Despite the fact that we do not manufacture our own decorative lights, the process of assembling the various pieces of the lights takes place in Nepal,” he explained. Who knows, maybe one day Nepal will be able to export its products to other nations if our government provides incentives for such industries and lowers the tax on the import of the raw materials required.
On the other hand, according to Suresh Bahadur Bhattarai, director of System Operation at the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), people will have enough electricity to last them through Tihar due to a lower demand and a higher supply of electricity. “The usage of electricity during Tihar can range between 500 and 1220 megawatts.” Even if it reaches 1500-1600 MW, the National Electricity Authority (NEA) will have enough electricity to meet the demand. According to him, one of the reasons for this is the closure of enterprises and factories during Tihar, which makes it easier to control electricity supplies during this time period,” he explained. The governor also encouraged everyone to use electrical appliances and decorate their homes with electric lights without reservation throughout the holiday season.