Less than 20 days for Yaoshang to come, but...
The virus is still out there
It is still some days away, less than 20 days to be more precise and this is perhaps where the collective discipline of the people will be put to test. It did not impact on the people’s behaviour last year for Yaoshang festival came before Manipur reported her first COVID-19 case on March 24 and the important and interesting question is whether this year should be any different from the previous years. The virus that causes COVID-19 continues to spread, though its spread has now come down to single digit spikes per day, which should underline the point that the virus is still out there and can infect anyone who has had the misfortune of coming into contact with it. Perhaps it would be prudent for Manipur to recall the days when Manipur reported her first COVID-19 case. So it was that from the devil may care attitude before March 24, to the sudden emergence of several leikai heroes and heroines who took it upon themselves to impose curfew hours and put up road blocks at their respective leikais to back to square one again with no one seeming to care that the virus is still out there. The same devil may care attitude is most likely to be carried into the Yaoshang festival, for the people of Manipur, more particularly the Meiteis are known not to lose any opportunity to celebrate a festival or two, never mind that coronavirus has claimed 373 lives in Manipur till date. This is where local clubs and community based CSOs need to come forward and take steps to ensure that celebrating the festival does not go overboard, for what is at stake here is the health and wellbeing of the people. This word of caution is all that more important as some States, particularly Maharashtra is in the grip of a second wave and there is no guarantee that Manipur will not see such a similar condition.
Recall the days of lockdown, the restrictions placed on the movement of people and the call to avoid large crowds and to maintain social distancing. A look at the roads of Imphal today would leave no one in doubt that caution has been thrown to the wind and the behaviour of the people is bound to make one come under the illusion that the virus will not rear its ugly head again. There is a reason why a good number of knowledgeable people have been talking about the danger of a second wave and though the infection rate has come down considerably, no one should forget that the virus is still out there and infecting people at will. The point is, no one can afford to let their guards down. Time for all to come to terms with the call for the New Normal. Maintain social distancing, wear a face mask whenever one steps out, avoid large crowd or overcrowding, wash one’s hand regularly with soap and water or with a hand sanitiser. These few lines should be the guidelines for everyone and there is no way one should let one’s guards down. Let Yaoshang come, but celebrate it with a sense of responsibility. Let elders of each family, leikai clubs and voluntary organisations take the lead in maintaining a sense of order while taking part in the celebration. The time calls for maintaining discipline in the public fora and this will make the celebration of arguably the biggest festival of the Meiteis all that more meaningful.