The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted the arts and culture sector around the world. There is a severe research gap in studies for the knowledge of heritage with regards to the pandemic. The aim of this research paper is to understand the effect of the pandemic on intangible and built heritage, taking the case of Phoolwalon ki Sair, Mehrauli.
Phoolwalon ki Sair or the procession of the florists is a week-long festival where people of different faiths offer a floral chaadar and pankha at the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar 'Kaaki' and the Yogmaya Temple in the heritage precinct of Mehrauli. Delhi. The procession takes place every year in the months of September-October. The pandemic years provided a unique opportunity to study the short and long term impact of the it on communities, livelihoods and built heritage linked with this festival. This may help perhaps propose a sustainable framework for a post pandemic world for heritage to remain relevant and help people recover a sense of continuity, dignity and empowerment.
The research for this paper was conducted in three stages, namely the literature review, primary data collection and secondary data collection. The literature review encompasses data sourced by searching with keywords related to the research topic and formulating it in terms of a scholarly interpretation. The primary data collection involved formulation data in form of visits to Mehrauli and interviews with stakeholders. The secondary data collection encompasses the literature study to further organize and create a framework for the primary data collected. The scope of this study was limited to the procession path of the festival in the precinct of Mehrauli. The limitation in this study was the enforcement of covid lockdowns, due to which data collection was affected but whenever during the two years of the pandemic i.e. 2020-2021 there were times when the world was open, research was conducted.
In conclusion, it was found that there needs to be support and aid from the government reaching the craftsmen and the artists. Social media could also be used as an effective tool to form an archive of the festival for future generations and we, as people need to create a discourse around this, come forward in these difficult times of the pandemic to create a better world.
Pandemic, Cultural heritage, Phoolwalon ki sair, Festivals, Traditional livelihoods, Sustainability
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