Goa government cancels Holi, other festival celebrations amid sudden rise in COVID-19 cases

Panaji: The Goa government on Friday announced the cancellation of the official celebrations of the indigenous peasant festival (Shigmo), Holi, Navaratri and Shab-e-Barat due to the rising COVID-19 cases across the state.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told the Legislative Assembly during the ongoing Budget Session, that the SOPs should be followed strictly in public events like festivals and weddings, while also urging hotels not to host large gatherings on the occasion of the upcoming Holi festival.

“The government is cancelling Shigmo due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in Goa. Health comes first, festivals can be held every year,” Sawant told the state Assembly during Zero Hour.

Shigmo can be celebrated in small numbers at local temples, he said.

Shigmo, or Shishirotsava is a spring festival celebrated in Goa. Reckoned as the indigenous variant of the Portuguese-oriented Carnival, the Hindu festival of Shigmo, is marked by the boisterous celebration of colour and music and decorated float parades in various parts of the state.

It is also a notified state festival and is celebrated by the Konkani community.

Through an order issued by the Health Ministry late on Friday, the Goa government also announced a ban on public celebration of upcoming religious festivals in the state. amid “a fresh surge in Covid cases”.

“All authorities shall ensure that public celebrations and gatherings, congregations during these upcoming festivals like Holi, Shab-e-Baratm Navaratri, etc shall not be allowed in public places, parks, markets in the state of Goa,” the order issued by under secretary (Health) Gautam Parmekar said.

Sawant has already directed hotels and resorts to desist from hosting large holi-themed parties on their premises, to curb the Covid spread.

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