Festivals in the time of a Global Pandemic

From the processions and idol immersions of Ganesh Chaturthi to the roaring festivities of Navratri, along with the celebrations of Diwali, Eid, Christmas, and many more, India is known for being a very culturally and ethnically diverse country. Every season gives us a reason to celebrate, which is why India is known as the land of festivals and fairs. Be it the first harvest, the first monsoon, celebrating the bond of siblings on Raksha Bandhan, playing with colours on Holi, lighting up the surroundings with ‘diya’s’ and fireworks on Diwali, are some of the many reasons why festivals bring happiness to all.

Festivals are an integral part of Indian culture and are always celebrated with joie de vivre along with the utmost respect to people of all faiths. No matter how big or small the event, it is always a good occasion to spend time with near and dear ones. Shopping for new clothes and jewellery, cleaning every inch of the house, helping in the preparation of sweets and going around meeting friends and relatives and distributing gifts and sweets are the highlights of every festival.

Unfortunately, with the pandemic still running rampant, it will change the way we celebrate our festivals now. Living in the age of the internet has given us a new way to celebrate our festivals while practising social distancing. Video conferencing platforms like ‘Zoom’, has been a major helping hand during these tough times. It has brought us closer together to celebrate special occasions despite being far away from each other.

Neeta Kumar’s home is filled with warmth and the smell of freshly made ‘laddoos’ and sweets, every year on Diwali. She says that “With my daughter living abroad, Diwali is usually the only time she comes home, and then I at least have someone who helps me make the sweets instead of eating them!” Knowing that the current situation will not permit her whole family to be together this year, she plans on making it all feel the same despite being miles apart.

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar also celebrated the festivities of Ganesh Chaturthi with his family, domestic helpers and relatives who joined through the Zoom app.

The time has come for all social gatherings to move to virtual platforms. There will no more be large crowds of people in public places of worship and no greeting people in the street as you pass by.

Celebrating Easter this year was not what anyone expected. The services were held with the help of YouTube live for people to watch from the comfort of their homes. “Going for the midnight masses held on Christmas and Easter with friends and family and the greetings and merriment after mass is what we always looked forward to”, says Melanie D’Souza. She further adds, “I know things won’t be the same this year and I’ll definitely miss the whole family coming for a get-together but, staying safe is more important right now and we must adhere to the rules given.”

A big salute to the police officers who have been doing their best to keep people from gathering in large numbers even for small celebrations and made sure that the necessary distance was maintained.

With the current situation of the country and the increasing number of cases every day, having any type of social gathering is dangerous for people’s health especially when there are so many who still insist on not abiding by the social distancing rules and not wearing their masks properly or not wearing one at all.

To be able to have any sort of celebration or festivities in the future, we need to keep following the rules given to us now.