Rising Covid-19 cases across the country have alarmed the authorities to impose restrictions with a number of States issuing curbs on public gatherings and events on Holi fearing the events might catalyse the spread of the virus.
The National Capital is the latest to join the list of States, where congregations and public gatherings have been banned by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority to impose reasonable restrictions keeping in view a steep hike in the fresh cases.
However, the restrictions, though well called for, have been at the receiving end of bigger issues and problems concerning the traders, shopkeepers and event managers. Holi being one of the most celebrated festivals also gives these people an opportunity to make profits. The shopkeepers who’ve invested a significant amount of their savings in colours, balloons and water guns and setting up inventories are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Things have got even worse for costermongers.
“We have put in our most of the savings we made this year to buy organic colours, imported water guns and flashy toys. But very few buyers are turning up. It’s a difficult phase and we don’t have any other option, but to cope with,” Said Dhananjay Singh, a seller.
Even the traders are not spared of the losses. Holi is one of the prominent festivals which runs industries like those of colours, water guns and other raw materials. Banning of public gatherings would definitely hamper the demand for these goods.
Praveen Khandelwal, President, Confederation of All India Traders, said: “The festival of Holi is not going to be encouraging for traders this year. Covid protocols and the enforcement of ban on public gatherings, events and strict guidelines and curbs by different State governments have instilled a sense of gloom in traders dealing with the goods sold and manufactured on Holi. As per an estimate, Holi counts for a nationwide business of Rs 25,000 crore and Delhi alone makes Rs1,500 crore out of it. This time, this business is certainly going to be washed away because of the Covid protocols.”
Since, the capital is famous for extravagant events, evenings and parties on Holi, hence with these restrictions in place, the event management industry is likely to face a setback and crisis, owing to the last minute cancellations. The industry was trying to revive itself from a long lockdown period and these bans have only added an insult to the injury.
“With the imposition of section 144 in Noida and restrictions on public gatherings in Delhi, we’re witnessing a number of cancellations at the 11th hour. It’s not that we have anything against the government or we don’t understand the importance of Covid appropriate behavior, but timely information and updates could have saved the industry from incurring huge losses as we had given orders and payments in advance. Now, the caterers, decorators and event planners are asking for their dues. We’re clearly not left with a choice but to pay them,” said Vishesh Tyagi, Senior Event Manager.
Not just the traders, shopkeepers and event managers but those who had been waiting for Holi as a breather post the lockdown will have to spend another big festival at home with the restrictions. The excitement and enthusiasm has faded once again leaving people asking, until when?
“I came all the way from Kanpur to Delhi to celebrate Holi with my family but I’m foreseeing myself, sitting and watching television rather exchanging hugs and colours. I wanted to meet my friends too, but looks unlikely, now,” said Sameer Gupta, a resident.
Public gatherings, events and congregations have been banned in Delhi to contain the spread of the virus on Holi but the restrictions have definitely diffused the festive spirit of shopkeepers, traders, event managers and people at large.