Low-Key Holi Celebrations Amid Rise In COVID Cases

Low-Key Holi Celebrations Amid Rise In COVID Cases

The festival of Colours – Holi is widely celebrated across the country. The festival that marks the onset of spring and the harvest season will begin with Holika Dahan or Choti Holi on March 28 followed by Rangwali Holi on March 29. However, this year, with the spike in cases of coronavirus across the country, the festival will be a low-key affair.

Holi is celebrated during the Phalguna month and begins on the Purnima Tithi or last full moon day of the month whereby Holika Dahan is observed. A Holi bonfire is celebrated by burning the pyre of Holika to commemorate the victory of good over evil.  Followed by Rangwali Holi the next day, friends and families smear colours on to one another and enjoy savouries and sweets.

However, in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, on Wednesday, the Centre asked states and union territories to consider imposing local restrictions due to the festivals and limit or do away with mass gatherings for effective control of the pandemic.

"…in view of upcoming festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Bihu, Easter and Eid-ul-Fitr, etc., it is strongly advised that states may consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of these festivals and limit/do away with mass gatherings in the exercise of the powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005," Additional Secretary in the Health Ministry Arti Ahuja's letter to the states read.

Delhi, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, Telengana, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Haryana have imposed a ban on public gatherings during the festivals.

Although Assam government has not imposed any such ban amid the electioneering in the state, neighbouring northeastern state – Meghalaya on Thursday issued a new Standard operating procedure (SOP) for Holi celebrations amid the recent spike in COVID-19 cases wherein it banned public celebrations of the festival.

"SOP for Holi celebrations issued by the Home (Political) Department, Government of Meghalaya. 25th March 2021," the Department of Information and Public Relations of the state tweeted.

"Public celebrations and gatherings/congregations are not permitted in public places/ public grounds/public parks/markets/religious places. Playing with colours should be restricted to family members only and within people's homes. Playing of colours and/or congregations shall not be allowed on the public road or roadside and there shall be no obstruction on any path/roads/thoroughfare. In case of private celebrations, the number of persons inside the venue/private premises shall be restricted in accordance with the order issued by Home (Political) Department dated February 2, wherein the maximum number of persons in any private gathering is restricted to 75 per cent of the seating capacity," the order read.

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