The year 2020 began a bleak note, with an obscure virus (SARS-CoV-2) fanning out through countries quickly, carrying the entire world to a stop. We as a whole have somehow figured out a way to live with it, but how will COVID impact our favourite Indian festival? Will it be bright as always or flicker due to the pandemic?
Diyas, earthen lamps, all are lined up along the passage of houses, dispelling all kinds of darkness prevailing in the world. The wind is full of hope, happiness, joy and love as all the folks leave their windows and doors of their houses open so that Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu God of wealth and prosperity, can come into their homes and bless them with loads of happiness and wealth. The sidewalks of the houses are adorned with beautiful rangoli, intricate designs made from colored chalks, sands, and flower petals.
Deepavali also called Diwali, is a millennia-old five-day festival (this year it was celebrated across the world on November 12-16, with the main celebration on Saturday, November 14) symbolizing light over darkness, the victory of good over evil and new beginnings. A typical Diwali celebration is marked by a trip to the temple to offer prayer, light diyas and candles putting around the house, inviting family and friends to eat sweets and light sparklers or fireworks.
However, this Diwali in pandemic has muted all the celebrations not just across India but across the whole world at large in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The meetings and social gatherings with friends, relatives and neighbours to exchange gifts, sweets, bursting of firecrackers- everything which is associated with Diwali will not happen this year.
The government of India has taken out strict norms to be followed this Diwali and urged the citizens of India to follow all COVID-19 guidelines.
Social Distancing in Places: Gone were the days when many haats like the famous Hunar Haat were organized around during Diwali, this year it took place online so that people can explore and purchase items or products without visiting melas/haat. People avoided going to different social gatherings to exchange Diwali greetings and gifts. The new trend of e-gifts has emerged people sending money to their loved ones from Google Pay and Paytm increasing the use of digital and cashless payments. Commerce giants such as Amazon, Flipkart etc, have prepared special customized Diwali gifts so that people can exchange it directly with their loved ones. These services have led to reducing physical contact between people and maintaining the festive vibe/spirit.
Eco-friendly measures: Keeping in mind the current scenario of pandemic and increasing air pollution, most of the Indian states banned the burning of firecrackers. In the National Capital of India- New Delhi blanket banning of firecrackers was done. The decision came as the air quality in the city falls into an extremely severe category with an AQI of more than 700. Neighbouring states such as Haryana were given only a few hours to burn firecrackers.
In addition to this, people were inclined towards celebrating Diwali in an eco–friendly manner by buying earthen pots and diyas. As there was not much to do this festive season, purchasing and decorating of diyas and lighting it up remained an activity that brought cheer and smile among people.
Richa Singh is a student pursuing Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Malaika M Khan
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.