City rings in Gudi Padwa, Cheti Chand with whimper
Shobha Yatras missing in action due to lockdown; Mumbaikars stay indoors
Mumbai celebrated a muted Gudi Padwa this year, with residents staying indoors in observance of the curfew called to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Shobha Yatras – wherein hundreds of Mumbaikars decked in their finest traditional wear, stage tableaus or play musical instruments as the city gathers to watch – were conspicuous by their absence.
Dr. Aparna Bandodkar, a motorcycle lover who is a regular sight at the Girgaum Shobha Yatra astride Bijli, her Royal Enfield, had a small celebration at home with her family. The dentist learnt to ride a bike at the age of 13 and is now the face of the Girgaum Shobha Yatra.
“This year would be the first time I woke up at 6.30 a.m. on Gudi Padwa. Every year, I wake up at 3 a.m. to start preparing for the Shobha Yatra,” she said. While Dr. Bandodkar did nevertheless wear a nine-yard saree and decorate Bijli with flowers, she could not take her out. The gates to her building were locked on account of the coronavirus crisis and are opened for specific reasons. “I did make sure to post pictures on social media, as it is important to keep the positivity going in a time like this,” she said.
The sentiment was shared by scores of Mumbaikars, who dressed up in traditional wear, uploaded their pictures and tagged their friends on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to keep the trend going.
Several residents said the unavailability of flowers due to the lockdown was chiefly why celebrations were muted this year. Traditional Gudi Padwa celebrations include putting up large garlands of flowers, called torans, over doors and windows to welcome the Marathi New Year.
“In my locality, we held small poojas in our colonies with four to five people gathering at each spot, as opposed to the usual music and rallies. The trademark gudi erected over windows or balconies of people's houses, too, were few in number this year,” said Borivali resident Mayur Helia.
Girgaum resident Vaidehi Jadhav said her family caught up with relatives over video call, since visiting them was out of question. “Usually, we would go out to meet friends and come back for dinner, but this year, we cooked a small meal and stayed indoors.”
Those observing the Sindhi festival, Cheti Chand, said their celebrations were muted too.
“As much as the lockdown is restricting us, we can’t forgo the spirit of the festival. We usually offer lamps, rice and grains at a water body and pray since it’s the festival of Ishtadeva Udero Lal, the god of water. This year, however, we did it at home,” said Byculla resident Anita Sukhija.
(With inputs from Abha Gokhale)