Holi, Gudi Padwa, Navratras: Coronavirus pandemic dampens the festive spirit

Amid the Covid-19 scare which started to spread across India in early March, several celebrations including major festivals faced the brunt.
Festivals like Holi, Gudi Padwa and Navratras didn’t see any major celebration this year.
Festivals like Holi, Gudi Padwa and Navratras didn’t see any major celebration this year.
Updated on Apr 02, 2020 12:11 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRishabh Suri, New Delhi

To say things aren’t the same as before, would be an understatement. Amid national lockdown, even the fervour with which people celebrate festivals isn’t the same. It started around the time of Holi earlier this month, with people being scared to play it in a crowd. Many celebs had even shared they won’t be celebrating the festival of colours. As the situation intensified, the entire industry was shutdown, and ultimately the nation. Gudi Padwa came and went without much of a buzz, and now the ongoing Navratras, but celebrations are extremely and evidently low-key.

TV actor Sharad Malhotra, who’d always go to the temples, invite friends over during Navratras, couldn’t do anything this time around. “I celebrate it with pomp and joy always, but obviously because of the lockdown, the celebrations will continue — in our hearts. Though we’re confined to our houses, I’m am definitely doing pooja at home,” says the 37-year-old calling the current situation “unexpected that has taken everyone by surprise not just in Indian, but world over”.


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Today marks the 8th day of the Chaitra Navratri, which is known as Durga Ashtami… I always prepare the Prasad personally. So tried the Makhana and Gur ki Barfi as an offering this time. Specially prayed for strength for all of humanity to get through these times and emerge victorious as one community in the face of adversity. ~ Happy to share details of the recipe, if you’d like to make this sweet at home too. Also, can be had during the fast: ~ Ingredients: • 1 1/2cups Roasted makhana (Fox Nuts) • 1/2 cup Roasted chopped cashews • 1/2 cup Roasted chopped almonds • 2 tbsp Roasted pistachios • 3 tbsp crushed Flaxseeds • 1 tsp crushed saunf (fennel seeds) • 4 crushed elaichi (green cardamom) • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut ~ Sweet syrup: • 1 cup water • 1 cup jaggery (gur) • 4 tbsp sugar • 4 green crushed elaichi • Grease a plate with ghee ~ Instructions: 1. Remove the outer skin of the cardamoms and grind them in the mortar. 2. Grease the tray, plate or a small thali with ghee. Keep aside. 3. Heat a wok, dry roast the makhana for about two-three minutes on medium heat. Then, crush them roughly. This can be done in a grinder. 4. Dry roast the nuts & seeds on medium heat for about a minute. Then, grind the nuts & seeds coarsely in the grinder. 5. Now, add the desiccated coconut in grounded nuts & seeds and puffed makhana. 6. Boil the jaggery, sugar, elaichi, and water in a wok/pan. After the first boil, reduce the heat and boil the sweet syrup till it thickens and makes two string syrup. (Two string syrup means that you take a drop of syrup between your two fingers and then stretch the fingers - if the syrup that sticks between the two fingers is making two threads (or strings) then the thickness of syrup is appropriate. Takes about 7-8 mins.) 7. Now, add the roasted nuts & seeds, makhane, coconut powder, and cardamom, mix well, cook till the mixture absorbs the sweet syrup. Takes about 2 minutes on medium-low heat. 8. Now, turn off the heat and set the mixture on the greased tray. Let the mixture cool down, takes about 8-10 minutes. Now, cut the burfi in required shape. . . . . . #ChaitraNavratri #20DaysofGratefulness #Day7 #stayindoors #staysafe #stayhome

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Gudi Padwa, celebrated by Marathis and Konkani Hindus, fell on March 25 this year. Shreyas Talpade, who sticks to all rituals, says things were different. ”People would’ve been stupid to go out and celebrate, because this year is not the same. Somewhere, mentally, we’re not really there. What’s playing on our mind is we need to survive, there’s a lot of fear around, uncertainty, which has been the trademark of our film industry. Usually, friends and family would come over, we’d get ready and go out to the temple, and erect what we call ‘gudi’. This time, we were not in the mood to do anything since we were pre-occupied with this news.”


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For both Shashank Vyas and Rashami Desai, the celebration of Navratras and Holi hasn’t been the same with less excitement as before. Shashank says while the way of celebrating had changed for him after he shifted to Mumbai and got busy with acting, the current situation overshadows everything.

“I didn’t celebrate Holi, even if there was no lockdown, but yes, the scare absolutely. One has to take precautions,” he says, while Rashami adds, “I follow everything at home though, including my mother and Bhabhi, as we are Brahmins. Bhagwaan dil mein hota hai, he knows what we are going through. So many people are dependent on their daily wages, you can do a lot of things for them, we shouldn’t neglect them. So it isn’t necessary that you go big (in celebrating).”

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Love in the times of Corona. #LoveInTheTimesOfCorona

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Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya, who celebrates all festivals with equal fervour, believes that the togetherness which marks such occasions, is of course missing this year since we can’t meet everyone. “The Indian festive spirit is ignited by togetherness. From Ganpati, Lohri to Eid, all have been festivals of meeting people and exchanging love but we keep evolving with time. We are a smart species and we improvise. For years we were bursting crackers on Diwali, doing visarjans of POP Ganpati but when we realised it’s negatively impacting our environment, we changed our ways. Similarly today, we’ll find new ways to celebrate and be happy,” she shares.

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Saturday, December 04, 2021