It is that time of the year, when regional new year celebrations erupt across India.
Starting with Ugaadi or Gudi Paadwa on March 25th that is celebrated by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the season moves on to include other states from across the country. This week, on 14th April, Punjab and many parts of the north celebrate Baisakhi, West Bengal and large parts of the east celebrates Poila Boisakh, Tamil Nadu celebrates Puthandu, and Kerala celebrates Vishu.
These festivals are marked, as all new year celebrations are, with family getting together, new clothes being purchased, investing in gold, prayers and worship, relations visiting each other and renewing ties and of course, as with all Indian festivals, a great sumptuous lunch.
This year however, is a wee bit different.
Across the globe, distancing has become an accepted norm, and getting together is frowned upon. Markets are sluggish, and many shops aren’t really serving items and ingredients that traditionally would start entering marketplaces for consumption, during this time, by Indian shoppers.
Indians being Indians however, are prepared for anything under the sun. Here is a set of fun ideas that I have collected from various friends across the Middle East on how to celebrate new year, in these trying asocial times, where traditional customs can’t be adhered to.
Pradeep Menon in Dubai, originally from Thrissur Kerala, feels that the Vishu coming up in his life is the most important one. Ever since he, his wife and kids moved out from India, Vishu has been restricted to just a quick lunch with family. This time, the entire family will, for the first time since they started their life in Dubai, are together at home to celebrate the festival. Something everyone will participate in, right from preparation too.
Saouvik Das and Protima Das, currently in Bahrain, have similar plans, too. To spend time with family at home, and to connect with all relatives on phone. They came back from their annual holiday in their hometown, Kolkata, in January 2020. Like all Indians, they stocked up on their New Year items right then, including traditional mishti and other items, and look all set to do a new year. They plan to do a video call with various relatives back home to celebrate the great day.
Kinshuljeet Singh Ahluwalia who is currently based out of Oman on a project, stays alone for now. His wife is expecting and back in Delhi at her parents’. Kinshul however, isn’t worried. He’s a great cook and plans to celebrate Baisakhi in true style, wearing his traditional Punjabi costume that he had procured for participating in a play at a community event two years back. He has lined up a video conference call with all his family including cousins in Canada and London and plans to spend an hour or two with his elders reading from his holy book, followed by a separate party with only his cousins. He hasn’t shared what that party is all about, and we don’t need to ask, really, do we.
Wherever in the world we are, we seem to be ready to have fun and celebrate. One way or the other. Without breaking rules in place. Wherever in the world, we find our own ways to celebrate our culture, our customs and our traditions. We make adjustments, we tweak and trade off.
But at the heart of it all, we are indomitable. We are Indians.
And we are the true celebration of every festival that ever has happened or will happen.