India is a unique example of “unity in diversity”. A rich confluence of diverse cultures, ethnicities, religious beliefs, history and traditions, this country celebrates an array of festivals all through the year. There is a festival being celebrated somewhere in the country almost every day. Each festival has its own significance and sentiments. From Makar Sankranti to Baisakhi, Gudhi Padwa to Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid to Christmas, Janmashtami to Onam…we celebrate each one with a lot of enthusiasm and fervour every year. No wonder, our country is often called as the “Land of Festivals”.

Social gatherings and community celebrations are what each festival bring in. This is the time to meet our extended families and friends to exchange greetings and good wishes. These are the days all of us eagerly wait for.

The current pandemic has proved to be a huge impediment towards the celebrations this year. It has necessitated social distancing, which translates to no community celebration. Do we cancel the celebrations altogether then? Not at all! Why don’t we think differently and celebrate them in our own way?

Let us start with the idols. Are you worried to order an idol from outside for Ganapati this year? No problem! You can think of sculpting your own clay model. In fact, that would be a great activity now, when going out is restricted. Also, use of clay and organic colours would make your idol eco-friendly. This would be your personal contribution to save the environment. So, take up this exercise. It would be great fun for your entire family.

Public celebrations of various festivals have been cancelled this year because of the pandemic. So what? Thanks to the availability of latest technologies, you can always scale it up as you wish.

You can make your home celebrations public through social media intervention. You can go live in Facebook or take videos of prayers to post them later. Exchange of gifts can happen online. With so many online portals available, you can choose your gift and organize to get them delivered to your loved ones. Send your greetings online too. With the current requirement of social distancing, it is better to not to visit anyone. You can also share your personal celebrations through video calls. In fact, you can synchronize the timings with your extended families, so that all of you can pray together keeping the screens on.

Though the current pandemic has put a stop to the ways we have celebrated the festivals so far, there are several alternatives available to keep the fervour on. What matters most is the essence each festival carries for us. We can keep it alive even from the confines of our homes, maintaining the necessary distance.

Let us seek the blessings differently this year. Let the celebrations be joyful, not sources of suffering. Let us understand that embracing the new normal is part of staying blessed.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

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