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Pandemic Festivities

January 2, 2021

Festivities during the pandemic have been one of the most confusing subjects in recent times. To pray or not to pray in Eid, to dance or not to dance in Garba, to go out pandal hopping or not during Durga Puja?

As we enter the festive season in India, this will be the first amidst the pandemic and thus creating the biggest dilemma in most of our Indian minds - “ebar pujo hobe na?” (will there be no Durga Puja this time?) / “Navratri mein garba nahi karne waale hai kya is baar?” (are we not going to dance to the tunes of Garba during this Navratri?).

We have entered October when different parts of the country starts with local festivals which are one of the most vivid parts of our culture. There are communities that look forward to these festivals for the entire year, alongside which there is a huge parallel economy which is built around this as well.

Is this the time for fear or is it the time for hope? The fear of getting infected or infecting others; can that supersede the hope of immeasurable joys for a visitor, profits for a business owner or simply means to make ends meet for millions of artisans that are associated with the industries related to festivities.

Let us look at this from different perspectives to understand this, taking an example of upcoming Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata.

I was recently forwarded a message from my sister in Kolkata which showed huge crowds of people shopping in one of the busiest markets in the city - New Market, Esplanade area.

This image said a lot about the spirit of festivals in India in general. On a superficial glance, it does seem like why are these people out in the streets, why are they risking their lives, is shopping a necessity, why cannot they do it online?

Okay all the above points are valid but alongside risking lives can we also see the lives they are saving. Most of the people are looking at the consumers in this image but the ones who are invisible in the crowd are the countless number of shop owners, street vendors and many more whose families are being saved by these very consumers who are out in the street. So now as we enter the festivities, we all will have this question in our heart, are we risking us to enjoy ourselves and alongside helping others, or should we still stay at home?

Pritam Saha, Assistant Professor, School of Fashion Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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