It's the most colourful time of the year! The high-spirited festivities and customs of Holi are all set to begin in full swing, in less than a week's time. And that's truly exciting. But there's no point in denying the obvious either, this year Holi is going to be decidedly different from what we've been used to for so many years of our life. Even the most enthusiastic Holi merrymakers (a group I count myself in) can't help but feel apprehensive about the dangers lurking behind the same Holi practices we were always accustomed to deriving joy from.
Although it might feel like that on some occasions, the global pandemic is far from being over. And the case numbers in India continue to rise exponentially. So, with the threat of infection looming in big crowds, public places and the air at large, this year's Holi celebrations unquestionably need to be fused with certain safeguards. To help you stay safe and have fun in equal measure, we compiled a list of COVID-19 precautions for Holi you should abide by.
1. Play Within Your Close-Knit Circle
If you want to play with colours this Holi 2021, we'd advise sticking to your close-knit circle. This includes your family members and closest friends. Due to the possibility of encountering asymptomatic individuals, it's safer to eliminate strangers and acquaintances from your Holi celebrations this year. Even within your small Holi clique, don't forget to maintain social distancing to the maximum possible extent. Also, play gently instead of trying to smother the other person's face in colours and thereby coming into more physical contact than you bargained for.
2. Avoid Holi Parties & Gatherings
This one is a bit obvious. As case numbers continue to be on a steady incline at the moment, it's of absolute necessity to avoid gathering in large numbers, like in the case of Holi parties. I know the temptation is real, especially when you receive that invite, but for the sake of your own safety as well as those you're close to, skip out on the parties this year. The idea is to avoid large-scale community contact, so sit back from your society Holi get-together, and celebrate with a few close folks in the safety of your home instead.
3. Wear A Mask Throughout
Even if you've diligently followed the mask mandate all this while, adhering to the rule can get especially tricker in the middle of joyful celebrations and merriment. But it's also all the more important to do exactly that. To steer clear of coming into contact with the virus, keep a mask on your face from the minute you step out to the moment you head back in. In fact, why not opt for a vibrant, colourful mask to make your precautionary measure, a part of your festival celebration?
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4. Greet People With A Smile
Again, I know how tempting it can be to give your friends a bear hug as you're wishing them a Happy Holi. But try sticking to just the latter action. Preventing transmission is the only feasible way to curbing the spread of the Coronavirus, and avoiding direct physical contact is one of the most important strategies you can adopt as an individual. Instead, greet your loved ones with a warm smile and a verbal expression of how much you missed them!
5. Order Your Colours Online
One way you can end up becoming a part of large crowds without even intending to, is by heading to your local market for Holi shopping. Whether it is to buy as many shades of Gulaal as you can, boxes of sweets for the guests, or some clothes to wear on the day of the festival, refrain from visiting malls or bazaars bustling with flocks of people. Instead, order your festival necessities online, including authentic organic Holi colours!
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6. Avoid Playing With Water
While getting drenched in water isn't directly related to getting infected with COVID-19, you can see why it may worsen things. Catching a cold and developing flu-like symptoms is still worth staying away from, especially now when a singular cough sound is enough to attract everybody's suspicious gaze. Also, water is one of the biggest resources wasted during Holi celebrations. So, for both your safety and that of the environment, opt for a dry Holi celebration.
7. Sanitise Before Grabbing Sweets/Food
When you step out of the house to play Holi, be mindful of keeping a small sanitiser bottle handy at all times. Make it a point to periodically sanitise your hands, especially when sharing sweets/food with other people. As you probably already know, the virus can be transmitted through contact with surfaces, so keeping your hands sanitised is your best bet to avoiding coming into contact. Remeber to keep your hands off high-touch surfaces.
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8. Watch Out For Symptoms Around
Last, but not least, pay close attention to your surroundings. When you're celebrating outside, be watchful of anybody showing symptoms around you. If any of your friends have an anti-mask attitude and are clearly lax with taking precautions, maintaining some physical distance from them is a good idea for your safety. Encourage your family members and friends to be truthful about showing symptoms or coming into possible contact. If there's anybody around you who is COVID positive, request them to stay home and quarantine, and find ways to include them in your celebration virtually.
At the end of such a drab year, celebrating your favourite festival is a much-needed form of solace. But curbing the spread of COVID-19 is the need of the hour. So blend the two, and have a safe Holi 2021!