Surge in Covid-19 cases, fresh SOPs dampen Bihu festivities

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, April 13: The spirit of Rongali Bihu, in the state, has dampened due to a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases, with the advent of the second wave of the virus.

With State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma going on record to say that there will be no restrictions on Bihu celebrations this year, many are looking forward to celebrating the festival with the usual pomp and gaiety.

However, rising cases in the country led the Assam government to issue a standard operating procedure (SOP) last week. The rules require all functions to end by 11 pm and the committees are supposed to estimate as to how many people are expected to attend, multiple entry and exit points at the venue, social distancing as well as provisions for thermal screening and hand sanitizers.

Last year, the Covid-induced lockdown put a lid on Bihu functions which usually witness major performing artists and Bihu dance groups holding shows.

With Covid cases on the uptick a week after the polls ended, Bihu committees felt obligated to make the hard choice of calling off cultural functions in the state.

For two years now, the Bihu committees have had to call off their Bihu celebrations.

This year, too, as Covid-19 cases surge across the country after months of relative lull, the Bihu organisers have had to make a tough choice.

The Rongali or Bohag Bihu, which heralds the Assamese new year, is marked by celebrations that continue for a month. Apart from visiting elders, gifting bihuwan (gamosas), spring cleaning, singing husoris (songs) and dancing, an important part of Bohag Bihu, especially in urban areas are cultural programmes organised by various committees featuring major artistes and dance groups of Assam.

These performances usually happen through the night on elevated stages set up in open grounds, with local committees planning for them at least a month in advance. Last year, all such events were banned due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

 

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