North India is to witness a low-spirited “Baisakhi” celebration this year due to the threat of coronavirus. The total number of COVID-19 cases in India has crossed 9000.
By Archita Chakraborty
Kolkata: Celebrations for the festival of Baisakhi are on a low key this year because of the pandemic the world is facing at the moment: the Coronavirus. Since the country is currently in complete lockdown, markets are facing huge losses.
Akshay Chakraborty, a bank employee said, “Every Bengali waits for Paila Baisakh. It is that time of the year when we all get together with our families and friends. We buy new clothes and have a great feast. But this year, due to COVID-19, it is feared the markets are going to face a big loss. It will especially affect the small businessmen who have eagerly waited for this time of the year. Usually, the markets open two weeks before the day of the festival but now they are suffering.”
The celebration is not just limited to West Bengal. In fact, it is one of the important dates in Sikh calendar which have been cancelled. In West Bengal, Paila Baisakh or Bengali New Year is the first day of the Bengali calendar. The day starts with a prayer to Lakshmi and Ganesha. It is a big day for traders because they open their new accounting books which are called “hal khata” and distribute sweets.
In Bengal, “Noboborsho” is celebrated with activities including dancing, singing or parades. People wear new clothes and join for get-togethers with their families. The main attraction of this festival is food. Every household during this festival cooks different kinds of dishes and buys various kinds of sweets.
In the other parts of north India, the festival brings grand celebration. Tripura, Northern Odisha and parts of Assam celebrates Baisakhi with the harvest of rice and, that’s why the festival called the ‘harvest festival’.
A sweet-shop owner from Sodepur said, “This year is very tough for us even though we are allowed to open our shops from 12 noon to 4 p.m. However, most of our employees are not willing to work daily because of the lockdown. So the varieties are extremely limited, and consequently, the number of expected customers has decreased rapidly.”
Kheya Roy, a small businesswoman said, “This year, the virus has caused a downfall in the market. have stocked my shop of new clothes for two months. The packets are still unopened. I own a small shop and I was really looking forward to this time of the year.”
The famous tourist places are also facing a big loss. On this day, people from different places come to visit places like Kalighat, Dakhineswar and Tarapith to celebrate the festival. But these hotspots are closed now due to lockdown.
Shantiniketan, where Paila Baisakh is celebrated with Rabindra sangeet, and a lot of other cultural activities, was canceled due to the pandemic.
Mamta Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, said that the sweets, flowers and groceries shops can be open from 10:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. But she asked the people to avoid social gatherings and maintain the rules.
Mrs. Gopa Gosh, an economics professor said, “The market for small businesses has dropped drastically. They are facing great loss due to this pandemic. The restaurants and hotels will face misfortune too.”
The central government has declared that the extension will last till April 30, so there is no chance for anyone to celebrate Baisakhi this year. The citizens are in a state of dismay as it seems that the New Year will begin on a sad note.