OPINION

No PDA Now

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He who has a why to live can bear with almost anyhow - Nietzsche

By: Bilal Ahmad Dar

COVID-19 is proving to be a Pandora’s Box of troubles. The pandemic which spread only through a pint-sized virus is leading to enormous and formidable changes in the world order. It is going to destabilize everything. The destabilization is well-nigh showing its impact in global concerns, geopolitics, socio-cultural relationships and all that.

The major effect of it will be on socio-cultural relationships. Prior to this pandemic, as we know, people used to enjoy everything in conjunction with one another. The pace with which this pandemic is decimating the population of the world will surely tell upon the socio-cultural relationships. As anticipated, there will be new socio-cultural relationship norms and protocols. The definition of the things related to socio-cultural relationships will automatically change. New relationship standards will replace the old ones.

Socio-cultural relationships, as everyone knows, differ from country to country, region to region, religion to religion etc. In the West, socio-cultural relationships are of different nature. Western people cannot help without making a Public Display of their Affections (PDA). In order to express their love, affection, and sympathy for one another, Westerners cannot do it without physical proximity. This is going to change for sure. Maintaining distance from one another will now be considered as a gesture of love and concern! Hugs, kisses, and handshakes will be considered as internecine acts. Love birds will have to invent new modes of expressing their emotions. Social distancing is going to be an accepted norm for fear of transmission of the virus.

The pandemic is acting as a great changer in every respect. Geopolitical concerns and relationships, global political affairs, indigenous cultural rituals will have a diametrical change. Where political superpowers like America and China etc. stand destabilized, how can social relationships stand firm there!

The pandemic will bring about a sort of universal uniformity in socio-cultural ethics. Now every country, religion, and region will have a same type of socio-cultural relationship parameters and ethics. Differences in cultural gatherings and ways of celebrating festivals are going to change for sure.

Quarantine system, social distancing, and lockdown have affected the web of socio-cultural relationships. People now fear meeting one another. The pandemic has conditioned people to live in separation and isolation. In future, people will likely refrain from arranging social events. Friends will no longer gather for parties. Lovers will no longer frequent recreational parks and restaurants. Romance will suffocate in self concentration rooms.

The frequency of religious gatherings, which is directly related to socio-cultural relationship is going to get curtailed everywhere. Mosques, Temples, and Churches etc. will be under surveillance. All this will have psychological effect on people. People will offer prayer, puja and psalms in their homes.

The preventive and precautionary measures issued by WHO and health departments will have a psychological effect on people. People will inadvertently sort of distance themselves from others. The system of marriage ceremonies will also have a complete change. Marriages, as we know, have always been celebrated with huge fervor and enthusiasm everywhere in the world. Relatives, friends, and neighbours would come in large groups to participate in marriage celebrations. In J&K sumptuous feast and dishes, are usually served in a spacious single plate to four people. But the way through which COVID-19 spreads, this way of marriage celebration will partly change into a celebration of a different sort. Instead of assembling in large groups, relatives, friends and neighbours will come in ones and twos. Food will not be served to four persons in a single plate. Single plate system is going to be replaced with buffet system in which every person serves one’s own self individually. Congregational celebrations of marriages are going to be replaced with celebrations in solitude.

Every religious festival all over the world, as we know, is celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm. Eid of Muslims, Holy of Hindus, Christmas of Christians, and Baisakhi of Sikhs etc. are the festivals that have always been celebrated with lot of happiness and good spirit. People in these festivals usually congregate in large groups at different places to enjoy and celebrate these festivals. The pandemic has put the entire world in a very sorry situation. We have become kind of untouchables. There would be a kind of disregard for the congregational celebration of these festivals. People would celebrate these festivals but at their respective homes. These festivals will be bereft of people, of fervor and enthusiasm.

These changes are going to engulf every country in the world. People will have to acclimatize themselves with such abrupt and baffling changes. As Goethe said, “Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.”

  • Bilal Ahmad Dar is a Research Scholar at the Department of English, AMU, and can be mailed at: bilalbismil89@gmail.com

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