This time ‘Navratra’ has come as a great disappointment to a whole lot of big and small traders and artists who perform ‘Jagran ‘ as they depend on their earnings of this period for the rest of the year. Those on fast are yet not clear as to how they will perform ‘Kanya Poojan’ on the commencement of the Navratra amid the nationwide lockdown due to Coronavirus.

Amid fear of Corona, Navratra – a Hindu nine-day fasting fest of Goddess Durga commenced on Wednesday. But for all those who depend on occasions such as these for their living do not know a way out that could give them any respite.

Besides big and small shop keepers around the temples who largely depend for their earning on religious occasions such as Navratra which comes only twice in a year, there are artists who perform Jagran and Mata ki Chauki during these nine days dedicated to Goddess Durga. For all of them, the earning on occasions such as these support their financial budget throughout the year.

The lockdown due to Coronavirus has already brought those who are dependent on their day-to-day earnings like small vendors and shops on the brink of starvation. Since it is a total lockdown so everything including the temples has been closed for the public, said Pandit Ramshastri adding that hence the markets around are also closed which is surely going to affect the business around these temples.

Every temple has around it a small economy which comprises of shops that sell Prasad, religious texts, pictures and idols of the deities and their accessories, etc. Also, there are tea stalls, refreshment centers and other eating joints who all make extra earning during big religious occasions such as Navratra. These people manage their yearly budgets by making extra money during Navratra which this time might not be possible.

“In fact, people had already bought the stocks to sell during the Navratra which would not earn them a single Rupee this time,” said Ram Datt Sharma adding that this would add to the distress of these small shop keepers as certain things are not kept in stock for longer periods.

The worst hit, however, are the artists who perform in Jagrans which are mostly organised during Navratra. In Meerut alone more than 250 groups of thousands of artists who do Jagran during Navratri celebrations besides Mata Ki Chowki.

Most of these artists belong to the lower strata of the society who make extra money by singing and playing musical instruments in the Jagrans.

Meerut Kalakar Utthan Samiti President Rajendra Aggarwal told that all invitations for Jagran and Mata Ki Chowki stand cancelled because of Coronavirus lockdown while on the contrary, it used to be a packed Navatra for all leading parties who even had to refuse many in view of previous bookings.

But now all artists and people associated with these groups are sitting at home without a clue as to how they would come out of this sudden unexpected financial loss.

One such artist associated with Jai Bhawani Musical Group Dileep is a rickshaw driver. He had been performing in the Jagrans since past 15 years. He said that most of the artists associated with these groups are from labour class for whom the earnings made during these Jagrans matters a lot.

A group of singers, dancers, and musicians of 10 to 15 members charge Rs 15 to 17 thousand for a Jagran while the entire event with a food tent requires a budget of Rs 50 to 60 thousand, he told. These artists get some extra money in the form of offerings from the people.

However, it is not just these artists, the electricians, DJ owners, tent houses also make money but now they would bear loss this time due to Corona threat.

Also, the pandits who perform special prayer during the Navratra are also amongst those who would face the loss. Many people call the pandits for hawan and special prayer during the Navratra which gets them extra earning.

This Navratra is different for us as well, said Kusum Sharma who is fasting for nine days. “We do not know how we will be able to do Kanya Poojan to complete the fasting in view of Lockdown,” she said. Kanya Poojan is done on the eight and the ninth day of fasting by offering Halwa and Puri to little girls.