Excursions

by Amit Gawande

Yesterday marked the beginning of Navratri, a nine-day festival for us Indians. And again, as has been the trend this year, the festivities are dampened by the phantom presence and talks of pandemic rampaging outside.

Each year, Ganesh Chaturthi, the long 10-day festival begins the season of festivals here in India. Everyone accepts that once the August dawns, it never is too long when we are already ringing the new year celebrations. We and our families are too busy with one festival after another.

This year the festivals did arrive, but the festivities were lacking. In India, we love celebrating our festivals outside, and with others. With our extended families and friends. We welcome them at home, and we don’t hesitate to visit them and wish them loads of happiness.

So no surprise this year’s festivals have been a lot different and a lot less fun. I understand the gravity of the situation that all us in the world find ourselves trapped in. But we Indians are known to dance away our fears and stresses together, as we celebrate our festivals.

From North to South, East to West of India, there are different names for the each (and at times the same) festival. But the purpose is common - celebrate the feeling of togetherness and of happiness that that togetherness brings to us. In that sense, this year has been dampening.

Anyway, Navratri began yesterday. Unlike each year, we are all working from home and hence have got a chance to be with our parents. Usually, my wife and my mother fast throughout these nine days of Navratri. They are not changing there routine, they will fast even this year. To keep me appreciative of how difficult that is, I have decided to fast today.

But the DJs blaring the loud sounds from the pandals set up for Garba are missing this year. Also missing are the endless debates between left and right on how we should stop spreading the noise pollution. Missing are the colourful stalls selling Gagra cholis and missing is the excitement of getting ready as per the colour schedule for each Garba night.

Sure, I understand the reason for all the gloom and also realize that we have bigger problems in front of us. But I abhor this year because it’s stripping away the opportunities from us to celebrate and gain the strength we need to face the problems.