NEW YEAR celebrations are meant to be loud, joyous and hopeful. It is all about putting behind the problems of the past and looking forward to a bright future.
While the Tamil, Malayalee and Punjabi New Years are not public holidays here, those celebrating would still clean their homes, dress up in new clothes and head to places of worship such as temples and gurdwaras that will hold special prayers. It is also time for family and community get-togethers.
However this year, the Covid-19 pandemic may have put the brakes on religious and cultural events. However, some have found a way to overcome this problem.
Darshan Kaur, vice president of Gurdwara Sahib Subang said: “We have been posting on social media translations of the scriptures (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and a discourse on Sikh philosophy and selected values that are highlighted as basics in the Khalsa Brotherhood.
“These videos are prepared by our resident Head Granthi (priest). We are also working on a video presentation to be shared on Vaisakhi day itself. This will be a virtual representation that will encapsulate a few highlights of the celebrations that were planned to be live. Hopefully this will inject the essence and joy of Vaisakhi into all our members’ homes.”
Dr Sharmini Siva Vikaraman, a lecturer who is celebrating the Tamil New Year, said this year’s celebration won’t be the same as those in the past.
“I was looking forward to celebrating it this year as I couldn’t celebrate it last year after losing my late mother-in-law. We were all in a mourning period, and so we had to avoid celebrations for a year. Well, this year, adapting to the universal pandemic crisis – Covid-19 – I believe we have to limit the celebration by definitely not socialising during this period. Thus, it’s going to be more of an indoor or domesticated celebration.”
While she will undergo the whole house cleaning process, hanging mango and neem leaves at the entrance of the home, taking ritual baths and cooking vegetarian food for the family, they will forgo any house visits this year.
“This year will be much simpler. I will buy some fruits, flowers and sweets for prayers at the altar as a symbol of inviting a prosperous new year and thanking God for all the good things showered in our life. We will light up the oil lamps, pray and chant some mantras while conducting prayers,” said Sharmini.
“I did not purchase new clothes this time. I found it not so significant or important at the moment of a universal crisis that we are all in. To replace this, we as a family have donated some cash to a few needy families and also nursing homes.”
She added: “Any form of prayer or celebration done truthfully from our heart [and] within our means is much more powerful and meaningful than just portraying the amount we can afford. Sincere offerings to God in any manner will definitely usher in lifelong happiness and a beautiful year ahead.”