OUWA.org – Shadow cast across India as Diwali festival hit by Covid – and smog. People encouraged to remain reception for Hindu festival, with Delhi particularly affected.
Diwali celebrations in India have taken a more sombre tone this year, because the double spectres of the pandemic and pollution cast a shadow over festivities.
The Hindu festival of sunshine is that the most vital celebration of the year for several in India and this weekend would usually be marked by raucous parties and fireworks displays.
However, the preparations and planned celebrations across the country are unusually muted, particularly within the capital, Delhi, where coronavirus cases have reached record levels and therefore the city’s annual pollution hit “emergency” levels and enveloped the town during a thick toxic smog.
“We aren’t celebrating like other years, it’ll be a quiet Diwali for us,” said Sumita Majumdar, a housewife in Delhi. “We will only put out candles and pray permanently health. we’ve not done any buying Diwali this year, it’s not about celebration but survival.”
WhatsApp messages going viral in India encouraged people to remain reception and lightweight candles for the “Covid warriors who have left us”, and to “offer support and spread “cheer to those that have lost their people and who have suffered losses in jobs and business”.
Delhi recorded 8,600 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the very best number since the pandemic started, also as 85 deaths, and hospitals within the city reported that their medical care units were almost full.
India is that the second-worst affected country by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 8.73m cases. Overall, new cases are declining across the country over the past month but health experts fear Diwali might be a “super-spreader event” that would prompt a second wave, especially if people throng to temples and relatives’ homes as normal.
Gatherings of up to 200 people are still allowed but over the past month, India’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan, has been campaigning for people to possess a socially distanced Diwali.
At Delhi’s popular and bustling Lajpat Nagar market in the week , warnings were broadcast over loudspeakers telling Diwali shoppers to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
With evidence showing that pollution is linked to higher death rates from coronavirus and more vulnerability to the virus, firecrackers, highly popular during the festival but also major air pollutants, are banned within the capital and other cities across India.
There has been a push towards a “digital Diwali”. In Delhi, prayer ceremonies are going to be broadcast on television and social media to encourage people to remain reception . In an effort to prevent the utilization of firecrackers during Diwali, the UN environment programme launched a series of augmented reality filters where people could have exploding e-firecrackers, referred to as e-pataakhas, on their Facebook and Instagram posts rather than setting off the important thing.