Kolkata

COVID surge: fairs, festivals go virtual in Bengal

A health worker collects swab sample of a woman for COVID-19 test, in South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, on January 21, 2022

A health worker collects swab sample of a woman for COVID-19 test, in South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, on January 21, 2022

As West Bengal grapples with the third wave of COVID-19, many of the festivals and fairs which were hitherto major tourist attractions have either been postponed or are being held virtually.

In the last set of relaxations issued by the State government on January 17, Jatra performances were allowed in a restricted manner but festivals and fairs, which are a huge draw in the winter, are not being held.

The International Kolkata Book Fair, the biggest draw in Kolkata, has been postponed by a month due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and will start from February 28.

The Kolkata Steel Literary Meet, which is held at Victoria Memorial, has also been postponed. Jayanta Chowdhury, curator of Victoria Memorial Hall, said since monuments and gardens are closed, the literary meet can be held only in March. The organisers of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival have opted to go virtual too.

Priti Paul, director, Apeejay Surrendra Group and Oxford Bookstores, said, “The space occupied by literature and books, whether on the ground or in the virtual world, will flourish. It is in this spirit that we present the 13th — and our very first virtual edition — of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, which will celebrate and usher in the centenary year of the much-loved Heritage Oxford Bookstore.”

Artisan melas put off

The local artisan melas held in the district have also been suspended or put off. Ananya Bhattacharya, director, Banglanatakdot.com , a social enterprise working for sustainable development through revival of heritage, said various fairs and festivals are being postponed to March. “This is the second consecutive year when artists have been unable to organise festivals in different parts of Bengal,” she said.

Meanwhile, the State reported 37 COVID-19 deaths and 10,959 new cases over the past 24 hours. The active cases now stand at 1,44,809.


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Printable version | May 13, 2022 11:55:01 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/covid-surge-fairs-festivals-go-virtual-in-bengal/article38301638.ece