The coronavirus pandemic might have changed the way people are observing the Indian New Year festivals such as Vishu and Pahela Baisakh on the subcontinent but it has not put an end to the celebrations. People took to social media to wish each other to mark the occasions and share how they are carrying out the festivities.
What is Vishu and Pahela Baisakh?
Vishu is a Malayali festival celebrated in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Tulu Nadu region in Karnataka, bordering areas of Tamil Nadu and their diaspora communities. The festival marks the first day of Medam, the ninth month in the solar calendar followed in Kerala.
Whereas, Pahela Baishakh or Bangla Noboborsho is the first day of the Bengali calendar. It is celebrated on April 14 as a national holiday in Bangladesh, and on 14 or 15 April in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Northern Odisha and parts of Assam by people of Bengali heritage.
Celebrations from home
Twitter user @RiaRevealed shared a picture of a traditional table setup on Vishu from India under lockdown and wrote: “My lockdown Vishu celebration at home.”
User @irah2000 explained what such a setup typically includes: “The festival of Vishu falls on April 14, 2020 and is celebrated by decorating Vishu Kani, which is a tray filled with rice, fruits, vegetables, jewels and the golden flowers of Kani Konna. Happy Vishu... this year we limit our celebrations.”
Tweep @vsv_writes shared how celebrations might feel different this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak: “It’s an abnormal vishu with no pleasure in celebrations and excitements. Anyway wishing my brothers and other tweeple a #HappyVishu. It’s good to deliver the care of each household. Gratitude and best wishes to those who have witnessed the outpouring of good in the country. #StayHomeStaySafe”
Tweep @KunalSarangi thought that celebrations like these can give people the motivation to fight the pandemic: “Greetings to all on #Baisakhi #Bihu #PoilaBaisakh #Vishu & #MahaVishuvaSankranti May these festivals give us power and resilience to tide over the #coronavirus to bring happiness and good health.”
Twitter user @RupanjanaDutta shared an illustration of how the Bengali festival might look like for most people in 2020: “Shubho Noboborsho (Happy Bengali New Year) peeps! Hope the New Year brings a coronavirus-free world soon! Till then please stay in, stay safe and save lives! #shubhonoboborsho #NewYear #BengaliNewYear”
User @iamrahrich shared an image of a traditional Bengali meal and urged people to celebrate from their homes: “Shubo Noboborsho to all my Bengalis all over the world! Please celebrate in your homes during this tested times. Cook up some delicious Bengali meals! #BengaliNewYear #ShuboNoboborsho”
A day earlier on April 13, Vaisakhi was celebrated. Also pronounced Baisakhi it is a historical and religious festival in Sikhism and Hinduism. It is usually celebrated on April 13 or 14 every year, and celebrates the start of the month of Vaisakha from the Sikh calendar.
Emphasising on the importance of practicing social distancing even during festivals, tweep @jassij1984 wrote: “Happy #Vaisakhi to all #Sikhs around the world! No events happening this year of course but celebrating at home means countless lives saved.”