Like Christmas, Diwali has both a religious and material aspect. Visually, the latter has grown to dominate the first over time. But this year should be different. Big parties for example should be avoided. At core celebrations of these festivals are about fellow feeling, from the family to the larger community to even larger ones. But in a pandemic all festivals have to be remodeled by the imperative of keeping our loved ones and our community safe.
Even Chhath Puja celebrations should take place at home this year, especially in cities like Delhi where the infection is in spate and poor air quality is an additional health hazard. In fact daily new cases and deaths are touching record numbers in the capital. Crowding into markets and other public spaces for recreational reasons right now defies common sense.
Also worth underlining is that the National Green Tribunal has directed that no firecrackers should be sold this month in any city or town where the average air quality has fallen in the ‘poor’ or worse quality. It is important that governments and civil society take this direction seriously. It literally takes everyone acting in concert to get through a pandemic. Let our festivities really shine with community spirit this year.