INDIA. MUMBAI: With the receding Covid-19 wave, the Holi, the Indian festival of color that marks the end of winter, is expected to be celebrated with pomp, joy, and splendor across India, Nepal, and certain parts of South Asia.
There are varying accounts of the origin of Holi. According to one version, “Hiranyakashyapu,” an evil king became so mighty that he forced his subjects to worship him as their god. But to his ire, his son Pralhad continued to be an ardent devotee of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu. The angry Hiranyakashyapu plotted with his sister, Holika, to kill Pralhad. Immune to fire, Holika tricked Pralhad into sitting in a pyre with her. When the pyre was lit with fire, the boy’s devotion to Lord Vishnu helped him walk away unscathed, while Holika was burnt to death despite her immunity.
Usually, when Holika is burnt, the temperature of the nearby area rises around 50-60 degrees Celsius, and the people perform Parikrama (go around the bonfire). It is believed that the heat coming from the bonfire kills the bacteria in the body. It is a faith that applying the ash emanating from the fire on the forehead promotes good health. The devout Hindus put ash from the Holika on their forehead. The people experience a change in weather from cold to hot in the atmosphere during the Holi.
The next day the people throw colored powder into the air and splash it on others. The festival is known as “Dhoolivandan” (adoration of dust). The red symbolizes love and fertility, while green stands for new beginnings. People also splash water on each other in celebration. It is considered that the playful pouring and throwing of color powders made from natural sources has a healing effect and the effect of strengthening the ions in the body. In ancient times, colors made from natural sources like turmeric, Neem, etc., were used.
With this festival, the people would wish to get rid of all that material that had become part of their lives in the last two years. Face masks, hand sanitizers, and other aids have been part of peoples’ lives safeguarding against Covid-19.
In the last two years, the Covid-19 claimed over 60 lakh lives across the globe. They comprised nearly 6 lakh people from India. Maharashtra lost around 1.42 lakh people due to the impact of the deadly virus. The pandemic in its stride led to jobs, economic recession, closure of schools and colleges, uncertainty over examinations, and an atmosphere of uncertainty in general.
However, the pandemic turned out to be a boon for the pharma market, and its turnover in India crossed Rs. 1.4 lakh crore. The Indian surgical masks market also flourished, with a market value reaching up to Rs 763 crore. Simultaneously India’s sanitizer market grew and touched Rs 43 crore.