Kolkata, Apr 15 (PTI) The spike in COVID-19 cases could not dampen festivities on 'Bangla Noboborsho' (Bengali New Year) in West Bengal, which ushered in '1428 Bangabdo' on Thursday with gusto.
The celebartions could not take place in 2020 because of the lockdown.
Queues were seen outside temples at Kalighat, Dakshineswar, Thanthania Kalibari in the city as traders went to them with their new 'haalkhatas' (record books) to seek divine blessings at the start of the new accounting year.
Many were seen wearing masks but physical distancing went for a toss at most places. Entry of devotees were regulated inside the temple compound by their committees.
Many people thronged shops, specially at Gariahat and Hatibagan areas of the city, for their last minute purchases and many among them were seen violating the COVID-19 measures.
The new year celebrations were preceeded by 'Chaitra sale' an annual marketing ploy to attract customers by offering them discounts over marked prices for clothes, shoes, white goods and even furniture.
'Chaitra sale' which has become an event for hawkers and small retailers in Bengal to boost their sales had come to a halt last year due to the breakout of the contagion and the subsequent lockdown.
In the evening shops at the jewellery hubs at B B Ganguly Street, Vivekananda Road and Gariahat in the city were decked up to greet customers with sweets and other refreshments. While the shop owners made arrangements for providing sanitisers not many customers were seen wearing masks.
Sudesh Poddar, President of Hotels and Restaurants Association of Eastern India, said 'As compared to the lockdown during Bangla Nobobarsho last year, this time fine dining restaurants and hotels are witnessing very good sales both in terms of occupancy of tables and online deliveries in city and elsewhere. All Covid-19 SOPs are in place'.
At 'Saptapadi', a well-known Bengali cuisine restaurant, there was full occupancy in its two outlets. The number of tables was, however, reduced to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
A significant number of patrons also opted for parcel deliveries, a spokesman of the restaurant said.
Asked what would be his 'Nobobarsho' plans, Sandip Ray, film director and son of maestro Satyajit Ray, said 'Enjoying the day with my family at home. There is no plan to go out'.
Meanwhile with campaigning for the last three phases of the state election on in full swing, political leaders took to the streets during the day and were seen wishing the people a prosperous new year.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took part in a road show in north Kolkata with actor-turned-politican Jaya Bachchan, who is a Samajwadi party MP.
Mithun Chakraborty, actor-turned-leader of BJP who is on the campaign trail for the past one month, wished the people during a roadshow at Naihati in North 24 Parganas district.
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari also attended a road show which travelled from the residence of Swami Vivekanada in north Kolkata to the residence of Maa Sarada, the consort of Ramkrishna Paramahansa, at Baghbazar mixing political campaign with Bangla Nobobarsho celebrations.
Bengali New Year celebrations had its echo in the social media with people posting messages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
'Let us look forward to a Covid-free world in the next few months. Let Baisakh make a comeback handholding good days,' Payel Mukherjee, an upcoming actor said in a post liked by hundreds.
People also wished one other on WhatsApp with messages in Bengali font and illustrations with Bengali motifs replacing the greeting cards.
Some cultural organisations took out colourful processions and men and women, attired in traditional dresses, walked the streets singing songs of Rabindra Nath Tagore or to the roll of the 'dhaks' (barrel shaped traditional drums0. PTI SUS KK KK KK