Karnataka floods wash out Diwali spirit in Bangalore

October 15th, 2009 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

By Maitreyee Boruah
Bangalore, Oct 15 (IANS) There are not much signs of celebrations in this city and festivities are muted. Bangaloreans do not seem to be in a mood to celebrate the festival of lights the way they did in the past because of the devastating floods in north Karnataka that killed more than 220 people and left millions homeless.

The state government has appealed to people in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka for a low-key celebration to show solidarity with the victims of the floods, said to be the worst in 100 years.

Bangalore’s prominent shopping hubs, including Brigade Road, Commercial Street, M.G. (Mahatma Gandhi) Road in the city centre and Jayanagar, are yet to deck themselves up in bright lights and colourful posters, the usual ritual to welcome Diwali shoppers.

“Generally almost a week before Diwali Brigade Road is decked up with lighting, but this time the mood is sombre and the street is bereft of any celebratory mood,” Suresh R, a trader and a member of the Brigade Shops and Establishments Association (BSEA), told IANS.

Echoing Suresh, Priya Raza, another shop owner on Brigade Road - one of Bangalore’s most popular shopping destinations - said daily activities were on, but nothing special for Diwali.

“We’ve been struck by tragedy. Millions of our brothers and sisters have become homeless and many have died in north Karnataka’s floods recently. In such a time, how can we celebrate Diwali with pomp and gaiety?” Prakash Mandoth, president of Jayanagar Traders Association, told IANS.

“As usual visitors are shopping, but we have not gone overboard to deck up shops to attract people for Diwali shopping,” added Mandoth.

“Neither the traders nor the general public is in the mood to celebrate. This Diwali will be a scaled-down one in Bangalore as a mark of respect to hundreds of people killed in the floods,” said Ramesh Makhija of Favourite Shop, a popular shopping destination on Commercial Street.

But it is not only commercial hubs of the city that look lacklustre.

Schools and colleges in the city have also instructed their students not to splurge on crackers this Diwali.

“We’ve asked children to keep away from celebrating Diwali in a grand manner. Instead we’ve asked children to contribute their Diwali expenses for flood relief purposes,” Sister Sugayna Mary, principal of St. Joseph’s Girls School, told IANS.

John Ellis, Principal of Bishop Cotton Boys School, said they had asked children to scale down their celebrations.

“As so many of our brothers in the state are reeling under the havoc of floods, we’ve asked children to celebrate Diwali in their customary manner but to stay away from splurging on crackers and sweets,” said Ellis.

Parents have welcomed the directive.

Mallika Kumar, a mother of two teenage sons, said it would be cruel to enjoy Diwali when people have lost their homes in floods and are fighting hunger.

“I will light up a few diyas and candles. But as a mark of mourning for flood victims, no crackers would be burst in my home,” said Mallika.

“It’s time to donate money and other essential items for flood victims, instead of spending on festivities,” said Raghuram Rai, a bank executive.

(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at m.boruah@ians.in)

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