New Delhi, Mar 18 (EFE).- The Hindu festival of Holi, one of the most popular public celebrations in India which sees people of all ages coming out to throw colored powder and water on each other, on Friday returned to the streets in style after two consecutive years of Covid-19 restrictions.
The sharp decline in coronavirus infections to some of the lowest levels in two years – as the country registered just 2,528 cases in the last 24 hours compared to over 350,000 during the latest peak in January – along with the withdrawal of most restrictions, resulted in an outpouring of joy in the country.
“It feels like the festival has come after two years. Holi colors seemed bleak in the last two years. But today, we played like we used to during the pre-corona(virus) time,” Gaurav Gupta, a 35-year-old financial consultant, told EFE as he stood drenched in colors.
“We had absolute fun. In fact, I remember Holi was the first festival in 2020 to be restricted and it has become the first festival with no restrictions after two years of the pandemic. I hope the worst is already over. We will have the normal, pre-Covid lives back,” he added.
Unlike recent years, some locals in this neighborhood of Noida, a satellite city of capital New Delhi, decided to celebrate Holi with the entire community, organizing parties with loud Punjabi and Bollywood dance music, apart from playing drums as they threw “gulal,’ or colored powder, in the air and on each other.
Many of the revelers could be seen without masks, in a sign that the worst of the pandemic is considered to be over.
India suffered some of the worst calamities during the pandemic, with a strict lockdown between March and June 2020 that completely paralyzed the economy, followed by a virulent second wave in April-May 2021, which led to daily caseloads of over 400,000 and more than 4,000 people dying every day during the peak.
The second wave, which overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums and resulted in severe shortage of medical oxygen and other facilities, has not been forgotten by the populace.
“I cannot believe that we finally got the chance to play Holi and revel in joy. I hope this marks the new beginning of our normal life. Two years is a long time. It feels like we never wanted the party to end. It has (seemingly) been a wait of more than two years,” Avatar Gill, an engineer, told EFE as he stood with his clothes resembling a painter’s canvas. EFE