festival Society

Ugadi in the time of Coronavirus

Ugadi celebration

Ugadi celebration   | Photo Credit: N BASHKARAN

The New Year for Telugus and Kannadigas offers an opportunity to celebrate the human spirit and usher in new beginnings

In times like these, festivals do cheer us up, celebrations within the family notwithstanding. Ugadi is celebrated across different communities to mark the new year and brings family members together over a traditional meal. Having the traditional Ugadi Pachchadi first thing in the morning and listening to Panchanga Sravanam is a customary part of the celebrations for Telugus and Kannadigas. With most cities under lockdown due to COVID-19, the celebrations this year will not be the same though.

Neem flower, the important ingredient of Ugadi

Neem flower, the important ingredient of Ugadi   | Photo Credit: A_Muralitharan

Jhillam Chattaraj looks forward to Ugadi for two reasons. Being a Bengali and married to K Uttam, a Telugu, Ugadi heralds festivities with Bengali new year to be celebrated next month. For the couple, the festival holds a cultural significance and gives a space of intimacy to them living and working in two different cities. On Ugadi, the duo also visit Uttam’s grandfather in CR Foundation Home For the Aged in Kondapur. Over a traditional meal, the couple spend the day chatting sharing and recollecting memories. However, this year Jhillam, a poet and assistant professor in English at RBVRR Women’s college will spend the day alone at home reading poetry. “Due to the lockdown, my husband cannot come from Sangareddy; I will read and upload my poems on Instagram,” she says, adding technology is liberating in these times.

“Without technology we would have been so isolated. Friends and students will share pictures of the feast. The communication is on; Even if physically we are away, emotionally we are connected. In fact, it has now brought people emotionally closer.” She calls festivals a reminder of hope and something good to look forward to. “In times like these when the world is in crisis, festivals cheer us up. We are emotionally needy people and festivals energise us. Rituals make us forget the mundanity of life. This time all our prayers for everyone’s safety”

Across oceans

For Pavan Kumar and his wife Ashwani living in Singapore, Ugadi brings special memories. The couple celebrating their first anniversary on the eve of Ugadi had initially planned to come to their parents’ house in Hyderabad. “Group video calls with family and friends living in Hyderabad is the best thing happening now. We are more connected than ever,” says Pavan.

It has been a ritual and professor Sagi Kamalakar Sarma has been following for 10 years now. Every Ugadi, he is at at Shilparamam reading Panchanga Sravanam and interpreting the almanac readings to the audience. “Panchanga Sravanam is an intrinsic part of Ugadi festivities but this year, I am not taking any risk and going anywhere. I will do a pooja at home,” he adds.

With all the shoots cancelled, television star Suma is at home. “We will not celebrate Ugadi this year because we lost my father-in-law Devadas Kanakala. Also because of the conditions prevailing in the world, we need to be mentally strong and hope and pray that we come out of Coronavirus lockdown and everybody is responsible and stays safe at home and healthy. Let us hope we are successful in breaking the Corona chain and are able protect us and our families.”

On small screen, she brings a special Ugadi episode on her new show House of Hungama (Wednesday; 9.30 pm) on Star Maa and has also participated a special Ugadi event for the channel. “Thank god these shows were shot earlier and we have banked a few of them. With all the free time, I plan to make videos for my YouTube channel Sumakka on my own without taking assistance.”

Let’s stay at home and celebrate Sri Sarvari Nama Samvatsaram!

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 11:38:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/ugadi-2020-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/article31152369.ece

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