As the COVID-19 pandemic upends normal life, it has also changed the way people express grief over the death of their near and dear ones with many taking the virtual route to pay condolences from safe confines of their homes. With restrictions still in place, people are finding it difficult to go out and at such a time, technology has come to their help in offering condolences.
In Madhya Pradesh's Indore city, people have started organising 'uthavna' (condolence) meetings on social media and apps providing video conferencing facilities to offer tributes to the deceased and to express solidarity with his/her family members. "This city has a culture of organising social gatherings in happy as well as sad times. But, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, now people have to live with this new reality," BJP MP from Indore Shankar Lalwani told PTI.
"During this pandemic, it is appropriate to organise online uthavna. In the last one month, I myself took part in more than 100 online uthavna meetings," he said. Some citizens here are also organising 'chalit uthavna' (mobile condolence) meetings, where instead of making sitting arrangements, people are asked to stand in a queue while maintaining distance from each other to pay tributes to the departed soul and then immediately leave the venue.
The local Sindhi community has imposed a ban on organising condolence meetings in its community halls here in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. "Since the coronavirus infection is spreading fast in the city, we have decided not permit condolence meetings and post funeral rituals in our two main community halls, Bhartiya Sindhu Sabha's Indore unit general secretary Naresh Fundwani said.
"We have also seen that during 'chalit uthavna' meetings, people gather in large numbers and indulge in long conversations. So, we have also stopped organising such
meetings," he said. In Bhopal also, the tradition of informing people about the post funeral rituals through small paper cards is getting replaced with virtual cards being sent on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
After the death of an LIC official in the state capital earlier this month, his family members sent a virtual card to their relatives and friends. "To remain safe, pay condolences to the departed soul from your home only. It is not proper to take any kind of risk in such a crisis situation. Your condolences are acceptable to us from a distance also," the message on the card said.