And so it has been announced. a 21-day lockdown. Unprecedented in India, and anywhere else in the world. Reactions have varied, from support for the move, to criticism, to despair. After all, we are a generation that has largely seen growth and prosperity for most of our lives.
We have’t met a challenge of such enormous proportions yet. It is natural to fear the unknown…
Today is Ugādi — the first day of Chaitrā māsā, or the beginning of the new year. Largely celebrated in South India (where I am from), Maharashtra (as Gudi Padwa), Sindh (as Cheti Chand), and Manipur (as Sajibu Nongma Pānba). It is also the start of Navaratri.
Unlike New Year’s day as per the Gregorian calendar, the start of a new year in Indian calendars is largely marked by ritualistic celebration — early morning bath, followed by prayers and visit to the nearby temple. Celebration is characterised by new clothes, sweets and social gathering.
Ugādi is a derivative of yuga-ādi, which means the dawn of a new age. So, in a way, the festival celebrates new beginnings.
And today is the first day of a 21-day lockdown. Do we despair…or is there an opportunity lurking in the shadows?
I witnessed something amazing today – a billion people came together to celebrate humanity.
Janta Curfew – how does that work?
A clarion call by the Prime Minister – rather, a request to all Indians to observe a self-imposed curfew today, and another request as well – to stand at balconies, terraces, doors and windows at 5 pm – and celebrate our healthcare and sanitation professionals for 5 minutes. Celebrate them, since they are at the forefront of the fight against Corona.
And boy, did we observe the curfew. Roads in India were deserted the whole day, shops were closed, people were indoors. And what happened at 5 pm?
Pushing hard against a brick wall doesn’t help – walk around and you may just find that door.
Re-evaluation does not stop just with work. Relook at all aspects of your life. Are you happy living the way you are? What would you change, if given the chance? Use these times to search for methods in which you can alter your life in a way that you are better at the end of it. You may not be able to start on a new path right away, but you can at least recognise the way ahead, and lay the groundwork.
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This is not the best of times, for sure. The year hasn’t started very well (understatement), and the past two months have brought mostly bad news. First the virus, now the stock market crash, and uncertainty all around. The after-effects of travel bans across many countries will reverberate for many months, possibly even years. Businesses may struggle, jobs may be lost, and we are staring at a possible recession. In these times, how does one stay positive?
Here are a few thoughts penned down, in no particular order. Consider them to be musings of a fellow traveler, in the journey called life.
The very fact that you are alive and breathing, is a cause to celebrate, isn’t it?
The mesmerising moments captured at Pandharpur Wari, the annual pilgrimage to the town of Padharpur, which is the seat of Lord Vithoba in the Indian state of Maharashtra, in honour of the deity. Palakhis (palanquin processions) carrying the paduka (foot prints) of the deity and various saints, most notably Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram from the Varkari sect, are taken from their respective shrines to Pandharpur. Varkari or Warkari is a Marathi term which means “one who performs the Wari” or “one who venerates the Vithoba”. The tradition is more than 700 to 800 years old.
Belief is a strong emotion in itself. It can move mountains. Believe in yourself, and celebrate life. The world will begin to look like a much brighter place.