ATITHI DEVO BHAVA!

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“Atithi Devo Bhava” is a Sanskrit quote which means that the guest is god. It’s a traditional Indian Hindu-Buddhist philosophy of revering guests with the same respect as of a god.

We are all aware of COVID-19 and the way it’s increasing rapidly all over the world. COVID-19 was first reported in the city of Wuhan, China and since then the virus has spread to more than 166 countries and territories all around the world, and India is one of them. The first case in India was reported in Kerala.

Currently, Maharashtra has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in India. In Maharashtra, the number of patients is increasing very rapidly, and so the government had taken strict action for the people to keep them safe from the virus. Maharashtra was the first state in India to get locked-down and within 3 days the same was implemented. So, people who were here from different cities could not go back. Many of them have been stuck here since the 15th of March.

I too am from a different city and I have been stuck here. Nowadays, I’m staying at my friend’s house with her family. I have stayed with them before but never for this long; it has been 15 days today, and 14 days more to go until the lock-down is lifted. They are very generous people and they are not treating me as a guest but like their child. They don’t allow me to step out as it is so severed here. Public officials are visiting every house to test the presence of the virus within the population. This is one of the reasons why her family asked me to stay with them because it’s a precaution measure and for my, their and everyone’s benefit.

Since I’m from North India, Marathi is a new culture for me to adjust to, and truly, it has not been that easy staying away from home, but they are very supportive and easy to gel in with. Additionally, being from a different part of India, it is obvious that my taste and preferences are different but they are so sweet and concerned about me that aunt (my friend’s mother) is making North Indian food for me so that I don’t miss my home much. They even talked to my parents as my parents were worried about me and they assured my parents that I am in safe hands and there’s nothing to worry about.

Here, they celebrate a festival named Gudhi Padwa which is a festival that is celebrated in the spring-time and it marks the traditional new year for Marathi and Konkani Hindus. The first day of the bright phase of the moon is called Gudhi Padwa in Marathi. Traditionally, families prepare a special dish which is a mixture of various flavours, particularly bitter and sweet which comes from the leaves of the neem tree and jaggery respectively. Everyone dresses up in new clothes and it is a time for family gatherings. I feel lucky that I got this opportunity in disguise to not only relish the festivities, but also be a part of the cultural celebrations.

My family and I are grateful to them as they are letting me stay with them in this pivotal time. As said by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi that “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and the soul of its people”, and here is a shining example of the same.