Holi marks the advent of spring in India and is celebrated by the Hindu majority all around India, with colored powders and splashing water. This year’s Holi festival falls on March 29th, a Monday which means it is a very long weekend. Being the best place to enjoy Holi with its peaceful vibe and enchanting beaches, hotels in Goa will be packed with guests keen on enjoying their time in Goa while celebrating the festival of colors.
But the unseen truth behind these Holi celebrations is that a large number of people are getting together in an area not following the coronavirus prevention protocols and social distancing norms to celebrate the festival.
India has reported a worrying second surge in COVID-19 cases, which has prompted multiple states to return to some form of restrictions on public gatherings. Last year the Holi celebrations were dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic so this year people were hoping for some respite.
The rising cases in many states including Odisha, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Bihar, UP have forced the state governments to impose several restrictions.
But in Goa, as the cases are not on rising, people have taken the matter loosely and are seen getting all set to celebrate the festival in full swing with many hotels organizing Holi parties.
A third-year student in a prominent college in Mumbai and is organizing a party at a Beach Club in Candolim. He has already sold seventy percent of the tickets in a facility that can host 1050. Speaking from Mumbai he said they would be conducting tests at the entrance and would be following the protocols. When asked how he intended to ensure protocols would be followed, he said they would ensure overcrowding did not take place.
The biggest Holi party this year that seems to have caught the fancy of everyone is Colorland Goa Holi 2021. To be held at the Goan Heritage the daylong event had received a good response but the fear of the virus according to one of the organizers who did not want to come on record resulted in an air of uncertainty.
However, Anand Chatterjee GM of Planet Hollywood said it was a conscious decision taken to not have a Holi party this year. He said “We did not have a new year party for the same reason. We did not want to be the cause of the spread of this dangerous virus.”
Neil Nevgi of Captain Martian who is organizing a party at Cajni multipurpose lawns in Canca-Verla said the venue had a capacity to play host to 5000 people but he was interested in ensuring 30 % was occupied. He said “There will be three enclosures and it will be celebrations without water or color. Everyone will be screened. Anyone wanting colors will have to buy herbal colors at the venue. Anyone playing Holi will be doing so in their own capacity”. He said the interests expressed were very encouraging.
Vincent Ramos, Area Director – IHCL, Goa, and General Manager – Taj Hotel & Convention Centre said they were not encouraging any event that would lead to people crowding. The hotels he said were keen on following all the sops. Guests would be encouraged to have the special Holi drink and partake of the special Holi buffet. He said social distancing would be encouraged.
While the hotels and party planners are confirming the necessary protocols being followed throughout the process, many people have opted to stay off from high scale Holi celebrations this year.
“The virus has forced my hand. However, I have friends who are keen on going north to attend parties. Many of them have been stuck at home and are not bothered about the lack of social distancing. They want to go and party. I will not do anything this year” said Siddesh Kavthankar, an employee at the SMRC hospital and a resident of Vasco. Similarly, Sanket Tawde, a businessman based in Vasco said he would celebrate Holi in a very small way with 3 or 4 people. He said “I will be with family this time. It is better to be safe than sorry.”
Ruchika Kawlekar, a student of BBA from Don Bosco and a resident of Taleigao has decided to stay at home because of the spread of the virus. She said, “A lot of my friends are going to party because last year everything was a flop and they want to go out and party. They are tired of staying at home. I will not apply colors”.
On Wednesday, India reported 275 new COVID-19 deaths, the most this year, as the total deaths shot up to 160,441. Infections rose by 47,262, the highest since early November, to a total of 11.7 million according to the data from the Health Ministry.