A country of colors. A country of cultures. A country of festivals – India!
…and we Indians take our festivals very seriously. Festivals are not just a single day celebration affair for us. They are about preparing for weeks or sometimes for more than a month. Unlike festivals of the west, dates of most of our festivals are not fixed. They vary, depending on the planetary and lunar positions. Hence, no points for guessing that the first thing that interests us in every new year’s calendar is the date of our favorite festivals. After all, as already said –‘we take our festivals very seriously’.
All our festivals have significance and story of their own, which each generation passes on to the next along with these rituals and celebrations. Also, in India family bonding and relations hold great importance, and these festivals mean a chance to meet and connect with everyone. The excitement of any festival here isn’t confined to a particular religion or region, the wave of happiness runs countrywide.
It’s priceless to see those happy faces, the gleaming smiles of kids when they hold their much-awaited gifts, the moist eyes of elders when they finally get to see their grown-ups who live in far off cities. These are the times for connecting with friends whom all year long one thinks of calling but procrastinates due to busy schedules, of eating favorite foods with family, gossiping with cousins, dressing up in one’s traditional best and not to forget of joining hands in prayer together.
However, 2020 hasn’t been kind to the world and the testing times even banished the charm out of our festivals. From Holi in March to Eid al-Adha yesterday and Raksha Bandhan tomorrow. This year even the festivals seem to be wearing a mask, revealing only part of their glorious face.
“During Eid al-Fitr we were hopeful that things would return to normalcy soon and we will be able to celebrate Bakrid in the usual style. But this Eid too we are keeping at home. Sharing wishes and blessings through phone calls only.” Says Md. Adil from Hauz Khas, Delhi.
“Every year I used to visit market and handpick the best Rakhi for my brother, but this time I have sent it through a shopping website. I hope it is like what it looks in the picture and he likes it.” Says Rashi from Agra, whose elder brother works in Bangalore.
Festival celebrations have seen a major change during the corona pandemic. Authorities, and people themselves are concerned for their health and safety. Therefore, there are no festival markets, no gatherings, no family feasts.
It’s not just the festival spirit that has been harshly affected, but several small and medium businesses too which used to flourish during these festivals have been badly hit. A handful of these sellers though have shifted their business online but majority still wait for the normal times to return. As for the celebrations, like rest other sectors this year even they have stepped onto the virtual platforms.
From sharing wishes and organizing group prayers online to performing basic rituals, like that of ‘rakhi tilak,’ everything is being conducted on video calls.
With 1/3 of 2020 and its share of festivals, including Guru Nanak Jayanti, Ganesh utsav, Durga puja, Diwali and Christmas still remaining, we sincerely hope that the cure for the novel virus arrives soon and the usual glitter and joy of our festivals resumes. As these are the precious bright rainbows in our monochromes.