The Independence day celebrations we knew have long gone. Celebrations have reduced in order to contain COVID-19. And this year’s Independence day is unlike any other.
Last year, Mangalore city got ready to celebrate Independence day like they usually do each year. They dressed in white or representing the tricolour. Students left for schools and colleges to hoist flags, one could find hawkers selling flags and flowers while people crowded in front of them trying to get the best flower garlands and petals to adorn their institutions and homes to commemorate the day the nation attained freedom from the chains of the British. The tricolour Indian flags were everywhere: in front of vehicles, on roadsides, in institutions and in the hand of every child
Parades were organised in popular grounds and those participating in them marched with utmost discipline and unison. Political leaders and officials were welcomed to institutions and spoke with great pride about the nation’s progress and hopes for the future as the crowd listened with awe. As the national anthem played, they all stood in perfect attention and sang with utmost devotion, with a sense of pride about their motherland. They vowed to keep their country clean, strive for a nation that is free of corruption, ill -deeds and on the whole be citizens that Mother India would be proud of. Then they carried on with life forgetting all their promises This year too, they assumed would be the same. But the world had other plans.
The deadly Corona Virus made all plans remain as mere plans. The world has decided that people should rather spend time in their homes than outside posing a threat not only to themselves but also to those around them. COVID- 19 has made us realize that the world needed better care. One should have focused on taking care of their health and the health of others rather than running the race called life. This year is about contemplation and restructuring one’s ways of thinking and in turn choosing to be physically distant from each other while trying to create a strong bond between beings of the world.
Independence day 2020 has led shopkeepers to their stores in Hampankatta as usual but not the people who crowd in front of their stores. Shopkeepers wait to sell the few flags and flowers that they have managed to produce during such hard times. The police parade has few members unlike the large numbers they showcased in past years. The city almost seems empty which is contrary to the Independence days in previous years. People have decided to embrace the ‘new normal’ and have decided not to celebrate the day as they do each year. But they will stay at home, watch the parade on television, stand to attention at home as they sing the national anthem and thus taking care of themselves as well as their fellow citizens so that the city can return to what they knew to be normal. So that cases reduce and life can go on.