A survey found that only one in three families saw a significant risk of Covid spreading this Diwali. (Image: AFP)
By Tirtho Banerjee: While the Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar family may not be hosting a Diwali bash this time or keeping it quiet this time around, most ordinary people don’t seem to be afraid of festive celebrations as they hold social gatherings amid a spike in crowds Covid cases in India. On Wednesday, India reported 1946 Covid cases and 10 deaths.
About 67% of people plan to socialize during Diwali this year, compared to 48% last year, according to a survey by LocalCircles, a leading Community Social Media platform. This indicates that most people have let go of their fear of Covid variants spreading across the country.
Two in three families are likely to socialize in the next 15 days, the study finds.
The first question posed to respondents was, “What are the different types of meetings you expect to attend in the next 15 days?”
About 16% planned to have a “festival gathering”, 11% planned to participate for “birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions”, and 3% for other events that took place nearby, on the work is organized, and so on. In addition, 18% planned to participate in the first two categories, 3% in 2 and 3 categories, another 5% for public events, be it festival celebrations or neighborhood events. Another 11% said they plan to participate in all kinds of gatherings in the next 15 days, the study suggested.
Pulkit Sharma, a student from Jaipur, said he plans to go to social gatherings with his friends and celebrate the festival. “I have some parties planned. I’m going to parties after a two-year hiatus and looking forward to it.”
Vidya Chauhan, a housewife staying in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, pointed out that she will call her friends to her home and visit theirs during Diwali as well.
However, Nitish Raj, a professional from Raipur, said he would spend the festival with his family at his home and avoid going outside to socialize or attend get-togethers.
Last year, the study showed that the situation was grim due to the severity of the disease during the second wave of Covid. In 2021, only 48% were willing to attend get-togethers and celebrate Diwali. This has increased to 67% this year.
The big festival – Diwali – is coming and the coziness will soon flare up again. But in most parts of India, masking rules and social distancing norms have been disregarded by a majority. How much risk do people see from the Covid resurgence?
The survey found that only one in three families saw a significant risk of Covid spreading this Diwali.
A whopping 21% of 9,806 respondents said they “don’t see much risk as a mini-peak begins to subside”, 24% felt there was “some risk as Omicron-Covid has new variants that keep coming”, while 27 % foresee “significant risk as Omicron-Covid has new variants and there is a high risk of reinfection”. On the contrary, 21% of respondents stated that they “don’t see much risk as the Covid pandemic now looks like a viral/flu”, according to the survey.
Chauhan said: ‘I don’t see any risk in celebrating the festival with loved ones in the house. If you go out for social gatherings, you must follow Covid protocols for your own safety.”
Sharma said: “The Covid risk is now less as no warning has been issued by any state government. The third wave was very bad. The severity of the virus appears to have decreased. But I still disinfect my hands after I get home. Yes, I also wear a mask, but more because of the pollution. Wearing masks and washing hands has become more of a habit.”
After two years of silence, it looks like Diwali celebration is coming back with a bang this time. However, with new Covid Omicron variants such as BQ.1.1, BA.2.75.2, XBB and BF.7 spreading their tentacles, it is wise to socialize cautiously and adhere to Covid protocols.