Sunday, March 26

Kolkata uses masks for Poila Boishakh e-greetings during lockdown

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Kolkata: Keeping in mind the need of the hour, sanitized Poila Boishakh e-cards flooded inboxes and social media walls from the crack of dawn on Tuesday. Decorative masks on e-cards have either elbowed out artworks of owls, mango leaves and festoons or received prominence alongside traditional motifs.

Drawing cartoons is not new for Chandrabindoo’s lead vocalist Upal Sengupta. On Tuesday, he sent across a sticker of a cute girl named Puchki wearing a mask who is seen feeding sweets to her dog, Cookie, as a greeting for Bengali New Year (1427). On being asked why he thought of such a sticker, the musician recalled how when he had first drawn this girl called Puchki, it was just meant to express a bonding between a kid and an animal. Subsequently, these illustrations became very popular and Sengupta started using them to express emotions like happiness, anger and sadness. “These were sent as stickers. Last year on Independence Day, I created a theme-emoji with Puchki. I have continued this trend of using her as the mascot on any special occasion. Now, I see people sharing Puchki’s emojis with others too,” said Sengupta, who used a mask on Puchki’s face to create awareness.

Many in Kolkata have shared this e-card designed by Dhaka-based visual artist Mita Mehedi
Dhaka’s visual artist Tirtho had uploaded a post showing people in an apartment celebrating Poila Boishakh while maintaining physical distance. By Tuesday evening, this post had received 7.7K shares. Sani Ghosh Ray and Nitesh Sharma, who downloaded the post in Kolkata, forwarded it to their friends. “Our elders compromised and stayed together. But, we had selfishly become nuclear. Social distancing has proved how important others are. I usually do not send forwards. But this one was so special,” Ghosh Ray said.

An e-card designed by Dhaka-based visual artist Tirtho
According to Sharma, this card encapsulates the contemporary reality of celebrations in times of lockdown. “This is the first Nabo Barsho without any hugs, sweets and charan sparsh. It is all about social distancing, work from home, video on demand and jackpot for all OTT platforms,” said Sharma, who forwarded this card to at least 500 people on WhatsApp.

Sending messages where the decorative masks were used as the only motif was also common. Another Dhaka-based artist, Mita Mehedi, uploaded an artwork wishing Poila Boishakh with a blue mask that had a design of a fish and a flower. This image too became viral on Tuesday. Some 13,110 km away in Los-Angeles Babli Chakraborty uploaded a post that had a mask covering the digit one. “This is today’s reality. In the coming days, I have planned to make masks that match with my saris. Hence, it is only fair that I usher in the new year with a reminder of the importance of masks.”
Ekta Bhattacharjee, who designs many posters of Tollywood movies, chose stay-at-home as her theme for e-cards. “Social distancing is now the new normal after the Covid-19 outbreak. So while designing the card, I had to keep this social responsibility in mind instead of sending cards designed with a plateful of goodies,” Bhattacharjee said. What made her happy was that many even forwarded the same card back to her. “They must have got it from elsewhere and forwarded it to me. As an artist, that felt good,” she added.
Even video messages have used social distancing as a theme. Anjan Bose and Amy Ghosh have shared one such video that starts with the line “chokher arale moner noy (away from the eyes but not the mind)”. According to Bose, “This is not the time for sending messages with plateful of Bengali delicacies. So many people are struggling without food. I would rather send warm wishes that emphasize on the need of maintaining physical distance while being emotionally close. The message in the video says it all.” Ghosh added, “I sent this video to let people know that though I am not seeing them personally, they are still on my mind. I urge people to maintain physical distance from each other but not necessarily social distance. I think it has been mislabeled as social distancing. We are constantly using social media to stay connected with each other and we would continue to do so. But we need to physically stay away from each other so that we don’t spread the virus.”

Psychiatrists say sending such e-cards is a way of expressing one’s social awareness after the Covid-19 outbreak

While sending such e-cards might also be a way of catching the eye this year, psychiatrists feel it is also giving vent to people’s awareness about the realities in today’s world. “Not many want to send e-cards that’s all about food and prosperity,” said psychiatrist Dr Sabyasachi Mita, adding, “Rather creating social awareness is reflective of their current mindspace now.”

Source: Times of India

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