Spring 2021 – Unlocking doors into a fresh start

In this week’s blog, we hear from Sunderland Culture’s Mahnur Roushan on the fresh start Spring brings and how the changing of the seasons is celebrated around the world.

In March 2020, the diary said, “4 more weeks and back to normal…”. 13 months later, here we are today finally rejoicing the easing of nationwide lockdown regulations which has verily come in time with the onset of Spring – the season for a fresh start, the season epitomising newness, love, hope and rebirth.

Spring embodies novelty, and that itself has been the very trigger of euphoric festivities and subsequent cultural celebrations around the world. From Spring cleaning to egg rolling, this year communities in Sunderland have also celebrated Easter- following outdoor trails and egg hunting at home. Children also indulged in a virtual Dino Egg Hunt around Sunderland Winter Gardens and had a chance to win a cuddly T-Rex. Families also engaged in Takeaway packs exploring art and music at home inspired by Paint the Town in Sound online exhibition.

Japanese Hanami (traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers, such as cherry blossoms) has been different this year as people in Japan were urged to limit festivities due to prevailing COVID-19. But in Sunderland, distance did not halt togetherness, diverse communities virtually engaged in colourful cultural Spring festivals and religious days such as celebrating Jewish Passover (reflecting on the Hebrew people’s freedom from slavery), Indian Holi (Festival of Love, Colours and Spring), Nowruz (Persian New Year), Thai Songkran (Thailand New Year washing away previous year), Boshonto Uthshob (Bangladeshi Spring Festival), Pohela Boishakh (Bangladeshi New Year),  Vaisakhi (Sikh New Year/Punjabi Harvest Festival), as well as Puthandu (Tamil New Year), Vishu (Kerala New Year), Philippines and Chinese hanging red lanterns, making dumplings (symbolizing wealth) and noodles (representing longevity). 

This April, Muslims all over the world also started to observe Ramadan- the holy month of fasting (dawn to dusk), reflection, prayer and community. Muslims are encouraged to indulge in more charity work, engage in acts of kindness and share meals with families and communities. The month ends with a 3 day long Eid celebration with exchange of gifts, festivities and meals. On 18 May after Eid, Arts Centre Washington will also host Srijoni, an exhibition featuring Islamic calligraphy and art work produced by a group of North East Bangladeshi women who met virtually amidst growing isolation fears during lockdown. Supported by Padma Rao and an Islamic artist Roohia Syed-Ahmed, they explored the notion of culture, cultural entitlement and identity through the art of Arabic calligraphy, contemporary drawing and text.  

Photo credit: Kainat Javed Qureshi of SKIN DEEP PHOTOGRAPHY

COVID-19 brought about lockdown limiting access to leisure facilities, to being with loved ones, to bereave loved ones, to wed loved ones, and causing deteriorating physical, social, and mental wellbeing. But it also unlocked doors to increased philanthropy, to being grateful for people who continue to strive and work hard for the community. It served as a reminder to cherish every moment we have with our loved ones, it has been a booster to innovative ways to reach out as well as curb isolation, an epiphany to unleashed creativity, to what matters most.

As we emerge out of lockdown to a new normality, let’s support one another to continue keeping safe, with a few tips:

  • Remember ‘hands, space, face’
  • Wear face coverings unless exempt in enclosed environments
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Plan meals and shopping needs ahead or online (explore Sunderland Museum Shop and National Glass Centre Shop)
  • Plan your trips by viewing venue-specific COVID-safe access measures in place.

May this Spring blossom better health, sprout creativity and unleash doors to newer, safer, and better beginnings.

Do you have a story to share? How have you unleashed creativity during lockdown? We would love to hear from you! Let us know of your creative ideas by emailing us at [email protected]

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