One of the popular ancient Hindu festivals Holi, a festival of love, colours and joy has faded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The celebration is dedicated to the eternal love of Radha and Krishna. It also signifies the triumph of good over malevolence. With the festive season around the corner and many places in India seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, many states and cities have banned Holi celebrations to prevent crowds and increased risk of transmission.
While some places have banned public gatherings for the festival, which falls on March 29, others have also banned private and community celebrations. Municipal Corporations have also banned celebrations in resorts, hotels, open spaces and housing societies within the city limits. Strict action will be taken against violators of the order under relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it was stated.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has also directed that public celebration and gathering, congregation during upcoming festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Navratri etc. will not be allowed in public places, including parks, markets, religious places. An order in this regard has been issued by Delhi Chief Secretary.
The decision has come hours after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who is also chairperson of DDMA, held a review meeting on increasing Covid-19 cases in the national capital. The Haryana government has also banned public celebrations of the upcoming Holi festival in the wake of the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks. During the past few days, Haryana has been reporting over 800 new cases daily.
Chandigarh will also not see Holi celebrations as authorities have banned public gatherings for the festival even at clubs and hotels. In Gujarat, while Holi celebrations have been banned, Holika Dahan will be allowed with restriction on crowds.
In Uttar Pradesh, the state government has banned processions or gatherings in public spaces without prior permission. Those above 60 years of age, as well as those below 10 years, will not be allowed to attend these gatherings. Further, the Union government also asked states and union territories to consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of the upcoming festivals and limit or do away with mass gatherings for effective control of the pandemic.
Holi celebrates the arrival of spring, the end of winter, the blossoming of love and for many it is a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. The festival also celebrates the beginning of a good spring harvest season.
It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna, which falls around the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan (burning of demon Holika) or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dol Purnima, Dhuleti, Dhulandi.
Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival that has become popular among non-Hindus as well in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia. In addition to India and Nepal, the festival is celebrated by Indian subcontinent diasporas in countries such as Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The frolic and fight with colours occur in the open streets, parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes come together to throw coloured powders on each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. In the evening, people dress up and visit friends and family
Holi was always my favourite festival. I used to play with as many people as possible and with as many dark colours as possible. I never discriminate whether a person, whom I am playing Holi, is my family member or outsider, friend or just acquaintance, Male or Female. But this year has forced me to keep distance, a good social distance for their protection and my safety.
Wishing you all dear readers a Happy Holi. Stay safe, and stay protected.