The Lockdown Experience

If the Chaumasa heralds a sea of calm, the Lockdown, something we have never witnessed before, came in the middle of the tempest of the pandemic. The contexts of the twain are worlds apart,and yet the possible commonalities of experiences between these two ideological concepts are worth considering;  and hence the curatorial premise of the 2020 edition of The Monsoon Festival is to address a conflation of the experience of the Lock-down and the Chaumasa. 

The contemporary contexts have been far from desirable, unlike the pleasant approach of the Monsoon in the Chaumasa. Life has been fragile, ephemeral, and news of loss, pain, strife and hardships has come in from all sides. Yet, the present time of social distancing, confinement, quarantine and isolation has brought us in touch with ourselves in a beautiful way, and reminded us of the nature of ephemeral existence. This can herald a spiritual experience, the blossoming of the inner lotus amidst immense hardships. Of course, safety and security is on everyone’s minds, but those who are not affected by the crisis of the pandemic directly, can possibly focus on higher ideas of self-actualisation. 

Like the Chaumasa, the current time is a time of no-travel, stillness and slowing down, living with less, and rethinking about our excessive life. The Chaumasa, as we highlighted, is a time for reflectiveness and spiritual attainment; and for many of us the Lockdown has brought similar awakenings. The inward look during this time has perhaps been heightened more than even during the Chaumasa practice: as not only could we not travel; but for a long time, we have not been going out, sitting in our inner spaces, and looking within deeply…

The Chaumasa has taught us the value of channelising energy towards self-actualisation and more control over the self. The Lockdown can teach us similar lessons, aided by personal reflection and our understanding of how to practice the Chaumasa. Creative practitioners can use this as a time for riyaaz: for honing the technical aspect of their art, and sharpening the emotive power to say.

Significantly, the idea of solitude and how that contributes to attaining a higher spiritual or creative ideal; and secondly that of Viyog (separation) which as we saw, is also a classical Chaumasa idea; are the two cornerstones that link Lock-down and the Chaumasa. 

Like during the Chaumasa, even today, on the romantic front, multi-dimensional awakenings emerge, tinted with either Sanyog (togetherness) or Viyog (Separation), as the individual circumstances may be. Single people are undergoing intensive journeys of self-reflection. Those in the supposedly happier mode of Sanyog may revel in a new found togetherness or conversely be dealing with latent relationship friction. Those that went through, or are going through the rigours of Viyog, may be singing a Chaumasa tune to lament…


In India, the Lockdown started during the spring, and as it progressed, summer knocked on our door. At an opportune and arrestingly beautiful moment during this Lock-down; the monsoonal Chaumasa arrived, igniting this beautiful thought in our minds that the two experiences can feed into each other. The rain brought some relief from the dryness of the Indian summer, greening our barren inner landscapes of the intense, sometimes-dark Lockdown.  Some colour was added to our emotional experience, and yet the Chaumasa only heightened the yearning…

The Chaumasa now slowly elapses, but the lockdown has somewhat continued for a doubled time of eight months…

As the lockdown faded in intensity slowly, some of us chose to be in a self-imposed extended lock-down; having encountered the self, and not wanting to let go of this glimpse into the inner spectacle. Even though the world around us slowly opens up; we remain with ourselves, a little longer… because this quiet moment of isolation brought us close to our self, and we greedily hold on to this beautiful personage, not wanting to let it go in the humdrum of the “normal”. 

The Lockdown Chaumasa takes on a full-on roller coaster ride: it’s personal, meditative, emotional, romantic, and anti-social!

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