India has been in a Coronavirusinduced lockdown since 25 March 2020. The lockdown has had a widespread impact on practically everything. When only essential services are allowed, it becomes quite difficult to do, well, anything outdoors at all. Among the long list of things affected, culture and tourism are a couple of major ones.
|| Aaryaman Dahiya
India’s culture is greatly varied like its geography is. One thing that stands common from north to south and west to east is the feeling of collectivism. Whether it is a moment of grief or a joyous occasion, everyone participates standing together. One thing that was deeply impacted was the celebration of festivals.
Festivals during lockdown
The first festival that was impacted due to the virus was Holi. At that time the virus was spreading globally and people did not actually know much about how to avoid it. Around this time our Prime Minister – Narendra Modi – tweeted that he would not be participating in any Holi festivities this year.
Another major festival that came during the lockdown was Eid- Al- Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Eid is a time of travel, family get together and dawn to dusk fasting. The holiday spirit was severely tampered all over the world because of the rules that come with the global lockdown. In India, the government had banned large gatherings. Several Muslims launched campaigns that urged people to refrain from shopping for new clothes and instead give alms to the needy.
The fact that festivals have been given as examples does not mean that culture includes only festivals. But festivals are a part of culture that have been affected due to the lockdown.
How does the future look for festivals?
India is a culture rich country which also means that a lot of festivals take place – some specific to regions, some across the nation. Rath Yatra is a major Odia festival which is also affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Seeing that no religious congregations are allowed currently, celebrations which are scheduled to start from 23rd June hang in the balance. For now the centre has said that the decision of celebrations is completely with the state government. In a meeting of the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, it was said that the yatra could be organised without devotees if permission is granted for the 9- day temporary stay of deities.
The Rath Yatra will take place within the next month and I think we can safely say that it is unclear about how festivals will be celebrated and we shall have more clarity closer to the dates. The possibility of a large congregation still looks slim though.
Tourism during lockdown
Tourism is one of the industries that has been dealt a heavy blow because of the lockdown – globally and in India. Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) on Monday doubled its loss guidance for India’s tourism sector to Rs 10 lakh crore on account of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the pandemic many hotels have also started delivering food through which they hope they will be able to stay in touch with old patrons and meet new customers at the same time.
Future of tourism
Following when the lockdown gets over people are going to be highly sceptical of going on a holiday to anywhere crowded. The fear that someone might have Covid 19 which might get transferred is still deeply instilled inside all of our hearts. What might emerge as the new normal now is that whatever leisurely holidays do happen, they will happen in holidaying spots away from large clusters of population. Resorts that are situated away from almost everywhere might do well in the future.
What can we do now?
As of now I feel it is best to take everything as it happens because it is increasingly becoming difficult to predict what lies for us in the future. I think we should accept Covid 19 as the new reality and learn to live with it as has also been said by a lot of researchers.