Holi celebrations subdued in India amid COVID-19 concerns

While many chose to skip the celebrations altogether, some preferred small gatherings but without colours

Updated - March 11, 2020 01:21 pm IST

Published - March 11, 2020 01:32 am IST - New Delhi

A reveller is smeared with coloured powder during Holi, the spring festival of colours, in Mumbai, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

A reveller is smeared with coloured powder during Holi, the spring festival of colours, in Mumbai, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

Holi was celebrated in several states across the country on Tuesday amid the coronavirus scare as people exercised caution and avoided mass gatherings.

However, the celebrations turned tragic as at least 27 people, including 13 in Odisha, were killed in Holi-related incidents.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and a number of other leaders had earlier announced that they would not attend any Holi Milan function in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

An ‘effigy’ of coronavirus was burnt during the festivities in Mumbai on Monday night.

Delhi witnessed subdued celebrations due to the coronavirus threat, while in parts of riot-affected northeast Delhi, most people played Holi inside their houses amid heavy presence of security forces on the streets.

While many chose to skip the celebrations altogether, some preferred small gatherings but without colours. Some played Holi only with ‘gulal’

President Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and PM Modi greeted people on the occasion.

Sombre mood prevailed in parts of Punjab and Haryana as people stayed away from big gatherings.

However, a large number of people paid obeisance at Gurdwara Kesgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib on the occasion of Hola Mohalla, a Sikh festival, amid heightened vigil.

Chandigarh-based Aditya (16) said his parents had advised him not to join a large group while celebrating the festival.

“I used to celebrate Holi with my friends until late afternoon, but this time the celebrations were over by noon,” he added.

With an Italian couple testing positive for coronavirus in Rajasthan last week, people were alert and preferred to stay safe.

The coronavirus scare played spoilsport in Jaipur, with people mostly restricting themselves to small groups.

Even as the political crisis has gripped the Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh , workers of the opposition BJP broke into the celebrations at the party office in Bhopal.

Scores of BJP workers, including women, danced and played Holi.

A woman activist, however, said they are elated because of Holi and in view of the early onset of “Diwali”, hinting at uncertainty prevailing over survival of the Kamal Nath government.

Mumbai and most parts of Maharashtra had a subdued Holi due to the coronavirus threat amid appeals to revellers from authorities to participate in the festival after taking necessary precautions.

Residents of Worli in south Mumbai on Monday night burnt an ‘effigy’ of coronavirus, dubbing it “Corona-sur’” (corona-demon).

In Bihar’s capital Patna, residents were reminded of the boisterous Holi celebrations organised by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, as his elder son Tej Pratap Yadav pedalled down the streets with hordes of supporters who broke into ‘Phagwa’ songs and smeared each other with ‘gulal’

Yadav seemed intent on stepping into the shoes of his father when he sat with a ‘dholak’ (drum) in his lap at his Strand Road residence and bellowed traditional Holi songs amid cheers from loyalists.

Revellers in Gujarat ensured adequate precautions by keeping off ‘rain dances’ amid the coronavirus threat.

One of the organisers even deployed hand-held thermal detectors to scan the guests for potential fevers.

In Goa, the main celebrations organised by the Panaji Shigmotsav Samiti took place at the historic Azaad Maidan, which was attended by hundreds of people.

Due to the coronavirus threat, the celebrations were held in an open ground and not inside a pandal (tent) as was the case in previous years, one of the organisers said.

Two people were killed and seven injured in a clash between two families while performing ‘Holika Dahan’ at Bawani Khera in Haryana’s Bhiwani district on Monday night.

Clashes in U.P.

One person was killed and 11 were injured in a clash over a trivial issue during the Holi celebrations in Kadipur village in UP’s Azamgarh district.

At least 10 people drowned while bathing and three were killed in a road accident after Holi celebrations in Odisha.

Four children drowned in a pond in Nadia district while taking a bath after celebrating ‘Dol Jatra’, the festival of colours in West Bengal. Four people reportedly drowned in Gujarat while bathing in water bodies after celebrating Holi.

A 32-year-old construction worker from Kalyan in Maharashtra’s Thane district drowned in a creek while celebrating Holi.

Two boys drowned while bathing in a river, on the outskirts of Odisha’s Cuttack city, following Holi celebrations.

Kovind, Naidu, Modi and several other leaders greeted people on the occasion of Holi.

“Wishing everyone a #HappyHoli! The festival of colours, Holi is a celebration of spring and fraternity in our society. May it bring peace, joy and prosperity to everyone’s life,” the President tweeted.

“This Holi, let us strive to strengthen the bonds of friendship and amity that hold our society together,” Naidu tweeted.

Modi hoped that Holi brings happiness in the lives of all people of the country.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stayed away from the celebrations this year. He had earlier said he would not play Holi due to the coronavirus threat and last month’s riots in northeast Delhi that claimed 53 lives.

“Happy Holi. Please take care of yourself while playing Holi. Please protect yourself from coronavirus,” he said in a tweet.

Goa CM Pramod Sawant did not play Holi and those close to him claimed he was busy in his constituency Sanquelim, campaigning for the March 22 zila parishad polls.

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