Hyderabad rings in 2021 amid COVID restrictions

High in spirits: People celebrating arrival of New Year at a pub in Begumpet on Thursday night.  

Hyderabad welcomed the New Year with vim, verve and vigour that appeared impossible only a few days back. Boomboxes on the streets outside bakeries. Fairylights decorations outside shops, temples and churches. Long queues outside liquor shops.

Shopping districts lit up brightly. Hyderabad appeared to have discovered its mojo lost during the long COVID lockdown months.

Except for bottles of sanitisers and masks outside entrances to churches and kiosks by the roadside, the pandemic appeared to have vanished into thin air by evening.

“The masks work 100%. We are following scientific advice with a strict no mask no entry system, we have sanitiser counters manned by 25 young people and social distancing inside the church,” said Father Charles Kandula, the parish priest of St. John Maria Vianney Church in Bhoiguda before he led special prayers.

Thanksgiving worship and midnight mass took place as scheduled in the church. “We informed the police that we will follow the COVID guidelines,” said Fr. Charles. Other churches in the city too held special midnight masses, changing earlier plans for a 7 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. service.

Temple servitors also prepared to welcome devotees in many parts of the city. Temples dedicated to Lord Venkateswara were decked up for January 1 morning darshan. Many devotees make it a point to visit temples on the first day of the New Year.

Planning for New Year’s eve began early in the city with citizens rushing out to make last minute purchases. “All the chips packets are over. People are buying cartloads of cocktail samosas, French fries and other finger foods, in the supermarket. People are mobbing even hot chips stores in Sainikpuri area,” said a resident of R.K. Puram.

Though liquor shops have been allowed to stay open till midnight, most of them were crowded right from evening.

Hyderabad City Police’s witty message of “So... What are your plans tonight. Will Meet you at Spl. Drive on Drunken Driving,” didn’t go down well with citizenry. Social media users picked out the government memo issued on Wednesday that allowed pubs and bars to stay open till 1 a.m. on January 1 to troll the city police.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 4:30:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/hyderabad-rings-in-2021-amid-covid-restrictions/article33468522.ece

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