Surge in COVID-19 cases dampens Rongali Bihu festivities in Assam
Guwahati: A cloud of uncertainty hovers over Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu celebrations in Assam amid a huge spike in fresh COVID-19 cases in the state.
The biggest festival in the state, which marks the start of Assamese New Year, begins on Wednesday and goes on for seven days, but cultural events, spread over two-three days are organised in most major localities across Assam.
The seven days are known as Chot Bihu, Goru Bihu, Manuh Bihu, Kutum Bihu, Senehi Bihu and Chera Bihu. People celebrate by wearing traditional clothes like dhoti, gamosa, chadar and mekhela along with singing traditional folk songs dedicated to Bihu.
Last year, the Covid-induced lockdown put a lid on cultural events which usually witness major performing artists and Bihu dance groups holding shows.
Given the surging Covid cases in the country, and although the festival is being celebrated in some parts with healthy and safety protocols in place, it is still best to stay indoors and not venture out unless absolutely necessary.
With elections ending on April 6 and the state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma going on record to say there will be no restrictions on Bihu celebrations this year, people were looking forward to celebrate the festival with fanfare.
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, estimates from committees as to how many people are expected to attend, multiple entries and exit points at the venue, social distancing as well as provisions for thermal screening and hand sanitisers.
However, the guidelines haven’t gone well with many Bihu organisers who have blamed the government for issuing them late, putting the entire burden of COVID-19 management on them.
Meanwhile, the Central Government Employees Welfare Coordination Committee has declared April 15 as a holiday for central government offices on account of Bihu.