Cautious cheers for New Year

Spirit of celebrations crushed by Covid

Society

December 31, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Cautious cheers for New Year

The New Year’s festivities this year will take place under the shadow of the pandemic

With the Covid-19 pandemic showing no signs of disappearing even as 2020 gives way to 2021, most youth await a sombre New Year’s eve where celebration will come with an overhang of caution.

New Year’s Eve is an eagerly awaited moment for most, especially the youth the world over, as people look forward to the year to end and festivities to begin. This year, too, people have been longing for the year end to arrive, though for a different reason. Practically everyone around the world is hoping that the dawn of 2021 would mean not only saying bye bye to the torrid 2020 but also to the pandemic.

As the New Year arrives, people want to commence a new beginning with celebration. But most remain worried about the health hazards of large gatherings and the traditional new year parties that often stretch well into the day on January 1.

Every New Year’s Eve, people from different parts of the country swarm to the hills to celebrate the occasion. Places like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in North India and many hill stations in the South witness a huge surge in tourists.

But this year, the New Year’s festivities, taking place under the shadow of coronavirus pandemic that seems to be only getting longer by the day, would be muted, almost dismal, if any. As the health crisis unfolded, everyone prayed under their breath for 2020 to end. This year was about social-distancing; video chats substituted for festive gatherings. People were locked inside their homes for months.

This year even the residents of the hill seem apprehensive of the New Year fetes. Rijul Singh, a resident of Sundar Nagar, Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh, talks about spending her New Year’s eve at home. “I usually sleep at 10 and get up at 5. It’s going to be the same for the New Year’s eve. There’s no point in going out due to the tourists and the traffic,” she says.

Aryan Surana, a resident of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, says he is apprehensive of going out to celebrate the New Year because he lives with his grandparents. “My celebrations will largely be subdued. I have asked my friends not to show up at my house because my grandparents are really old. I don’t even have a day off from work. I might go out for half an hour to meet my friends,” says Surana.

New Year's Day

This year, majority of the youngsters say that they prefer to go for in-house parties

But not everyone is sitting tight at home. Some have gone with their families for a break, the first since the lockdown was imposed in India in late March.  Mohak Mohta, who lives near Bhubaneswar, Odisha, is one such person. But even he has not ventured out far from home, he is at a resort near Chilka Lake, barely 60 km away, with his family to celebrate the New Year’s Day. “It’s our first family vacation since the lockdown,” says Mohak. “We did not invite anyone outside our family to the place. The trip is necessary for all of us since we had been locked indoors since March,” he continues.

Some, however, will be bolder and go partying all the way. A student of a medical college in Noida, near Delhi, has planned an in-house party to celebrate the 31st with all her friends. “We all follow the social-distancing and sanitisation protocols at our college. So, it won’t be a problem to party together,” she says.

Chirag Joon, a student at the University of Delhi, says, “We are partying on 31st but it’s just me and my two other friends. We took the Covid-19 tests a few days ago and we all tested negative.”

Back in the hills, Ketan Gairola, a student at Doon University, Dehradun, says he will finish reading the trilogy titled Aghora by Robert E Svoboda. A few cases of the new strain of the virus have been detected in his city. “I don’t have any plans for this New Year’s. For me, it’s going to be just another day. But if my cousins crash at my place, we will go to Harsil to celebrate on the 1st.” Harsil Valley is a scenic place in the Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand that remains snow-clad in winter.

Uttarakhand reported 317 Covid cases on Tuesday with 128 cases from Dehradun and 38 in Uttarkashi. “We usually don’t hang out in the market area due to the threat of infection. We will travel to some isolated place in the hills to catch up with friends on the 31st,” continues Gairola.

Celebrations will largely remain a private affair for most. Amidst drawing-room celebrations with family and quietly greeting 2021, most would hope that the year which seemed to be the longest in human memory finally comes to an end so that a new beginning can be made.

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