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Life in times of COVID 19: Mourners skip funerals, wedding revelries cancelled

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Srinagar, Mar 14: On Thursday, Hajra Begum, 80, received heartbreaking news: her younger sister died of a heart attack at her home in the outskirts of Srinagar city.
However, instead of paying the condolences, it was decided that Hajra should stay home as the family feared that her immune system is too weak to risk her contracting COVID-19 at a mass gathering filled with mourners.
“She is already on medication for multiple ailments. Her weakened immune system would have put her on risk in a large gathering,” Hajra’s daughter said.
Expressing sadness over her mother’s absence in the gathering, she said: “At the same time, we have to understand the threat and uncertainty the coronavirus outbreak has brought, too.”
The situation is no different among the Kashmiri families who were about to witness joyful events like weddings and engagement ceremonies. The coronavirus scare has resulted in the cancellation and postponement of such events.
Manager Sales and Marketing at RK Sarovar Portico, Marifan Gul said all the engagement ceremonies scheduled to take place have been cancelled.
“The emerging infection of coronavirus has left would-be brides and grooms panic-stricken. All the events scheduled for March and April have been cancelled,” Gul said.
The local Kashmiri chefs (Wazas) are equally apprehensive about the potential booking in the coming wedding seasons.
Gulzar Ahmad, a 45-year-old Waza said nobody is coming forward for the new bookings.
“Whatever bookings we have, they have been made last winter. Due to the fear of the virus, the clients are not making any bookings,” Gulzar said.
He is seconded by another local Waza, Tariq Ahmad, who suffered huge losses last year.
“We suffered huge losses last year due to the long haul of shutdowns. This year, we had hopes of brisk business, but that seems bleak now. No new bookings have been made,” Tariq said.
In the wake of coronavirus, the administration of Jammu and Kashmir has recommended that large gatherings be postponed or cancelled. While much of the focus has been on events like conferences, conventions and sporting events, funerals and weddings fall under that category, too.
The government has been issuing advisories to inform people of the precautionary measures and symptoms associated with coronavirus.
It has strengthened the surveillance and control measures against the diseases and helpline numbers +91-0191-2549676 (UT level Cell for J&K), +91-0191-25220982 (Jammu Division) and +91-0194-2440283 (For Kashmir Division) have already been established and are functional for any advice.