‘There was no ‘shobha yatra’ and stuff when I was a kid.’ My mom’s loud exclamation from the kitchen brought me out of my reverie, I had almost time-travelled to last year, leaving my mom to have a one way conversation about our (the Marathi) new year, Gudi Padwa. Though I loved the feeling of oneness the festival got with it every year, I wasn’t much of a fan of the noise and crowd it led to on the streets of Girgaon on that day—in the form ‘shobha yatra’ (a celebratory procession) and firecrackers and dhol-taasha. So much so that the whole area is cordoned off due the heavy human traffic.
But this year with the coronavirus outbreak, there ain’t going to be no fanfare and yatras. While a part of me wants to heave a sigh of relief at the thought of not waking at five in the morning to sound of firecrackers, the other part of me is suddenly missing the yatra and the whole celebratory mood. This year is definitely the most quietest of new year I’ve seen so far. I wonder how many houses will be graced with ‘gudis’ given there won’t be much to decorate it with. Nor will there be any feast (no shrikhand-poori, no special delicacies today). And to think that there wasn’t such thing as a ‘shobha yatra’ to make the day a ‘special’ one during my parents childhood!
For them coming together of families, eating the feast together, decorating the house, erecting the gudi was what marked the day and not a silly procession to tell them that today was a new year! And for us kids, say Gudi Padwa and what comes to mind is hundreds of people on the streets of Girgaon dressed to nines in their best traditional wear, nauvari-wearing women on bikes, kids participating in bands and coverage on TV news channels with lot of photo ops for social media.
Somewhere I feel over the years we’ve lost the actual significance of the festival. The festival, which marks the arrival of spring and beginning of a new year with the ‘gudi’ signifying positivity and good luck. Though some will say the yatra brings people together, keeping their animosity away and having fun together. But for me, what matters the most is being with family and celebrating the time we have together under guise of a lockdown—feast or no feast!