As the Covid horrors fade, Indian festival crowds return.
For the first time in two years, India’s largest religious holiday season is back in full gear, with huge crowds thronging markets and fairs, barely six months after a disastrous Covid-19 spike.
The coronavirus is still killing over 200 people every day in the 1.3 billion-strong country, but this is down dramatically from the 4,000 deaths in April and May.
The majority of activities have resumed, and India has provided about a billion vaccine doses, with approximately 75% of the population receiving at least one shot.
Durga Puja, Dussehra, and Diwali are significant Hindu festivals celebrated across India with a lot of noise, color, and excitement during the peak vacation season.
It’s also the season for people to indulge on clothes, candies, vehicles, and other consumer items, all of which help to bolster the country’s battered economy, which is the world’s sixth-largest.
Crowds went to colorful “pandals” in Kolkata on Thursday, which are temporary buildings where idols of the Hindu goddess Durga are erected during the festivities.
Spectators crowded around a 145-foot (44-metre) high pandal that was built to look like Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper and featured a brilliant laser show.
Although many individuals wore masks, traffic cops in the state capital of West Bengal utilized loudspeakers to remind people about physical distance.
“People will come and enjoy themselves because it is festival season. Now there are no limits; the government has given us permission to (celebrate), so we’re having a good time out here “AFP spoke with Aradhana Gupta.
Riya Tai, another festival goer, lamented the fact that she was unable to attend last year because to tight virus restrictions.
“Despite the large throng, I am in a good mood (this time). I’m sweating profusely, but I’m still having fun “Among the drumming and Bollywood music blasting from speakers, she remarked.
The neighboring states of Bihar and Assam, as well as the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, have seen large festival crowds.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government launched a “Mission 100 Days” campaign on Monday, fearing a comeback of Covid-19 during the extended festive season.
The Hindustan Times newspaper quoted a government official as saying, “We are asking states to be particularly cautious during the next 100 days, and ensure that Covid-appropriate behavior is observed.”
“Only then will we be able to save the country from an impending wave of instances.”
According to Rajib Dasgupta, a community health expert, the high coverage of the first vaccine doses is likely to protect. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.