The Covid-19 pandemic pushed all organisations and institutions to virtual platforms. Online education has become the new normal and amidst the chaos and mayhem of the pandemic, the college fests have followed the shift, too.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”– Maya Angelou
As rightly said by Angelou, college fests are a stimulus to our creative personality, and thus make it the best and most memorable time of our college lives. Fests are organised to not just entertain students, they also impart knowledge via quizzes, debates, discussions, etc. Music, dance, drama and games are an integral part of any college fest. It is an amalgamation of entertainment and knowledge. College students invest their time and energy to organise their college or department fests to make them perfect and memorable.
Since everything has been digitised due to Covid-19, college fests were held online, too. The festivals that attracted the eyes all from across the country were:
Symphony 2021 was the first college fest to be held online by Janki Devi Memorial College of DU. Hosting the fest online was agreed upon in lieu of an emotional outcry from the students. Professor Smita Mishra, Department of History, said, “Staff advisors consulted the Students’ Union and got the feedback from students of the college and across DU, that though academics was progressing at a fair clip online, the cultural scene was almost dead and there was an emotional outcry for an online festival. So, the authorities resolved to give the students a fun time by hosting an online fest.”
Professor Saumya Gupta, in a conversation with The Hindu, said that the authorities didn’t want the students to hold back from their excitement and creativity for cultural fests. “So, we took on the challenge to visualise the events virtually and decided to have a month-long cultural festival,” she added. The fest was a power pack of more than 25 events, which received both positive as well as negative feedback.
Students were happy because the fest was stretched to 30 days, way longer than the conventional three-day fest in pre-pandemic times. Jagriti Bathra, member of JDMC’s student union, said that the students could make new connections and celebrate with students across the country from the comfort of their homes.
Dance, drama, and music are always the essence of these fests, and who would have thought they would be held virtually with such efficacy? “Although it was not like a regular college fest, we had a lot of fun organising it. It was a great learning experience,” Bathra added.
Some students were unhappy about the online fests, while others felt that they missed the candid and fun moments of offline fests. Yukti Aggrawal, a first-year student, thinks that online fests are mere formalities and live events are more vigorous. Therefore, some of the students were upset about missing the live energy and enjoyment of an offline gathering.
Colleges fests of Delhi University are not the only festivals that got affected by Covid -19 and had to shift to online. The pandemic delayed one of the most awaited festivals of India, the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). However, its online version this year benefited all littérateurs as they could now attend the festival from the comfort of their homes. The festival managed to conglomerate 300 speakers and performers from around the world, representing 25 Indian and 18 international languages from more than 23 nationalities.
To host a virtual event for 300 people must be petrifying, but William Dalrymple, writer and festival co-director, while talking to The Hindu, said, “In my case, the problem really was to persuade people to apply for a visa and go on a flight, and set off for a week or 10 days to the other side of the world. And my job became much easier this year because all I had to do is pursue people to go on a video call!”
He added that the virtual platform was more feasible for writers who don’t prefer to travel, including Robert Macfarlane, Mark Haddon and Noam Chomsky.
Sanjoy K Roy, festival producer, said that they tried their best to capture the essence of the festival virtually and give a wholesome experience to the audience. The organisers also curated an online book store, crafts area, and morning and evening music shows to breathe life into the festival.
Also, for students, it was feasible to attend the festival virtually.
I listened to littérateurs speak at the festival from my living room. I have always had a fascination for the theories of Homi K Bhabha and to hear him via my screen was indeed a pleasure. Bhabha talked about the horizontality of blood and the question of time, space, optics and perception. It was a delight to attend all lectures virtually, they sure did enhance my knowledge on various topics.