The Haryana government has banned the sale of chewing gum till 30 June to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.
The order of the Food and Drugs Administration says, ‘Covid-19 transmits through droplets. There may be a possibility of transmitting Covid-19 by spitting chewing gum/bubble gum towards another person.’
But the government forgot to consider one of the most important aspect of Haryana’s social culture, which breaks all norms of social distancing and tosses lockdown out of the park — Hookah.
Hookah for all
Hookah culture is so deeply ingrained in Haryana that the first appeal made after the coronavirus outbreak by Haryanavi celebrities and leaders was to avoid hookah gatherings. Some say that since Haryana is an agricultural state, people smoke to relax. Some give a social spin that it brings all the communities together. It is a means of socialising. Some also argue that it is gender neutral. Women smoke hookah too. Maybe not outside their homes like men, but they share hookah among themselves inside the four walls.
Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda, shared a video where he advised taus to take a break from hookah and give some relief to their lungs.
रै गाम आलों,सीधी बात या सै अक घरां रओ।21 दिन हुक्के,ताश,लफंट गिरी छोड़-गीत,रागनी,कहानि,चुटकले एक दूसरे नै बताओ।म्हारी लीपी कोन्या तै सारी सभ्यता संस्कृति बात्तां मै ए सै।करल्यो बात मौक़ा पडया है।घरां रहण के जी से लयो अर इस महामारी तै बचो@narendramodi @cmohry @mlkhattar #StayHome pic.twitter.com/PfHkoYRgjD
— Randeep Hooda (@RandeepHooda) March 27, 2020
Congress leader Deepender Hooda also appealed to the people in Haryanvi dialect. He asked the elderly to renounce the 36 biradri hookah culture for the time being. It must be noted that Covid-19 is more lethal for the elderly.
कोरोना बचाव को लेकर हमारे ग्रामीण आँचल के लिए मेरी दो विनती है-
1. 36 भाईचारे के भाइयो के साथ बैठ हुक्के की सदियो पुरानी परंपरा है।लेकिन स्थिति देखते हुए इसमें कुछ दिन ब्रेक लगाए या न्यारा हुक्का रखे।
2. ताश की बाज़ी भी हमारा ग्रामीण पासटेम है। फ़िलहाल इससे भी बचे व सावधानी बरते pic.twitter.com/3QgkgKkgJP
— Deepender S Hooda (@DeependerSHooda) March 23, 2020
It can become a powerful weapon for community transmission if not taken seriously but the government hasn’t said anything on this. The Uttar Pradesh government has banned Pan Masala because it is a part of their culture. Haryana government should think on these lines too.
Elderly’s hookah evenings
A common belief in Haryana is that it is hard to keep the elderly at home. They get bored and then gather for hookah in the evening. Hookah is passed from one person to another. They don’t take the threat of coronavirus infection seriously. Infact they laugh it off by saying- Mahara ke bigadega corona. Hookah peeve bina naan’s rahya janta.’
Hookah evenings to elderly men in Haryana are the same as outings for millennials. It’s a common sight in Haryana to find men squatting under a tree or sitting in large numbers in panchyat bhawans.
If someone has to be boycotted socially, his ‘hookah-paani’would be completely cut off. It is a matter of izzat and pagadi.
Hookah in pubs
While elderly consider it a cultural legacy, youngsters find it cool and a tool for community bonding. That’s how hookah culture has reached Gurugram’s pubs too.
Apps like TikTok, Likee and Instagram are full of young boys proudly smoking hookah. A video on TikTok summarizes what hookah means to the Haryanvi Youth.
A user named Rahul Suthar has uploaded a video. He described hookah as a very famous and thada (strong) Instrument. It is an energy drink for Haryana people. Kaalje ne phaadu.
@rahulsuthar9703hooka##desihokka ##haryanvihooka ##hookalover ##tiktokindia_ ##hookachallenge ##hooka_lover♬ original sound – @kingharyana
Such videos have started appearing more during lockdown. It’s time that the meaning of hookah-paani band is changed for everyone.
Views are personal.