Covid versus festivals...to be or not to be?

Religious establishments across the country have been shut for five months now

Needless to say, the pandemic has unleashed an unprecedented situation across the globe concerning all aspects of human life. Never in the history of civilization did the human race come across a situation where all religious establishments and places of worship (world over) were closed indefinitely at the same time. For a country like India, which celebrates a number of religious festivals in splendour and scale the ramifications are bound to be a little more complex. In the preceding days, there has been some controversy and speculation regarding the rites that were undertaken at the Ram Mandir site in Ayodhya before embarking on the construction work. People irrespective of religious identity had only one apprehension - gatherings like these can result in greater transmission of the virus. The Rath Yatra of Puri too (though it was downsized this year) faced similar apprehensions from a section of people. Closer home, the Kamakhya Temple of Guwahati cancelled their iconic annual Ambubachi Mela this year.
In this context a bigger question is now looming- a question that is bound to be pronounced soon by almost everybody with the onset of the Hindu festival calendar-can pand alsobe erected in honour of Ganesh Chaturthi, Vishwakarma Puja and Durga Puja this year?
Upcoming festivals like Ganesh Puja, Biswakarma Puja and Durga Puja might not happen.
The obvious reactions from the people of the north eastern region that has witnessed more than a lakh of cases was an emphatic No. Infact Team Fit Northeasthad also asked the respondents if they support the public celebration of the upcoming festivals with stringent COVID prevention protocols. "The pujas should not happen, as prioritising life over any religious occasion is the need of the hour," said Avilash Gogoi.
Representative image
Image: Representative image
"These festivals need to be observed privately at an individual level," says Risha Duttagupta from Shillong. "There are several age-old customs associated with all festivals that have unfortunately been forgotten with the passage of time. These customs can be observed quietly at home or within close family and friend circles. Today festivals are all about glitz and commercialization. So maybe this is a good time to refresh many forgotten and beautiful traditions."
"There should not be any public gathering during the upcoming puja season. However, the rituals can be performed by the pundits," said Rajarshi Chowdhary.



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