Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: The instruction was loud and clear- play Holi at home to keep Covid-19 at bay. Nobody ever thought people will take the standard government appeal seriously after a year-long waiting.

However, to everybody’s surprise, the people of Odisha responded to the call and ensured fair play in true festive spirit. Self-discipline held key to the observance of Holi revelries this year.

Leading from the front were the residents of twin cities, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, as a majority of them preferred to celebrate indoors. Roads in the two big cities wore deserted look and only a handful of revellers were seen vrooming in the the streets till late in the afternoon.

Holi celebrations in most parts of the State were restricted and people stayed off the streets while the playing of colours was confined to housing colonies and residential complexes. The participants included close family members and neighbours.

The State government had earlier clamped restrictions on congregations and playing Holi on roads and at public places.

The restrictions were clamped in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases in different parts of Odisha. The State has been reporting 200-plus daily new Covid-19 cases for the past few days.

In a video message, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also appealed to the people to celebrate Holi at home as the State is passing through a crucial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Police Commissioner Saumendra Priyadarshi and other senior police officials supervised the security and other arrangements to ensure compliance of the Covid-19 protocols in Cuttack.

“People in the Twin City have followed the guidelines and Police teams are alert to take appropriate action in case of any violation,” said Priyadarshi.

Priyadarshi further thanked the residents of both Cuttack and Bhubaneswar for playing Holi in a disciplined manner and observing the protocols issued to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Commissionerate Police also conducted surprise raids at various places in Bhubaneswar where there were reports of unnecessary rush at various shops.

Police patrolling was intensified in the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar today. Special drives were also launched against illegal sale of liquor during Holi in the past 24 hours.