KUNAL CHATTERJEE, Kolkata: Holi celebrations this year will be a muted affair in Kolkata and the rest of Bengal, courtesy the coronavirus scare. Visva-Bharati authorities have cancelled the customary gathering in Santineketan. The festival is celebrated with much fervour and colour in the university premises every year with thousands converging in Tagore’s abode to remember the poet.
This year, though, Holi will lose all its hues as large gatherings are being discouraged.
In Kolkata, the impact is being felt in the markets across the city. Holi is round the corner, but traders dealing with colours, masks, balloons and pichkaris are reporting few sales. Many of the Holi goodies come from China, but they all have been banned.
Bidyut Banik, a school bus driver who also sets up a shop to sell colours and other materials every year in South Kolkata, has already suffered huge losses. “I run this business every year and earn a handsome profit by the end of the Holi. The business lasts for just two days, but my sales touch a lakh. This time, I invested more money on the fancy masks as they are the in thing now. Holi is just a day away6, but there are few buyers,” he said.
He added that the masks come from China so buyers are apprehensive. “I am trying to convince people that the masks were bought long before the coronavirus outbreak and were stored in godowns. But who listens,” Banik rued.
Gopal Shaw, a wholeseller in Burrabazar area, said that not just masks, but even ‘abir’ and other colours are being boycotted. “Many big institutions like Visva-Bharati have banned Holi celebrations. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister have declared that they won’t play Holi in view of the coronavirus scare. All these factors have added to the bad business this time,” he said.