NEW DELHI: Rajshree Saraf, 24, recently shifted to New York to pursue her dream of becoming a creative technologist. She has never been away from home, not even once. This year, due to international travel limitations and the alarming rise in the Covid-19 cases, she will spend her Diwali away from her family and friends in Kolkata.
“My friends have a ritual to organise a cards party every Diwali and we spend hours playing games, drinking and chatting. Thanks to WhatsApp video calls, this Diwali will be no different for me. In fact, I am also planning to create some personalised Diwali stickers on WhatsApp that I can share with my friends,” Saraf told IANS.
The story of working professionals Bani Singh, 29 and Abir Kapur, also 29, who just tied the knot is similar. Abir works in financial services in Hong Kong and came to Delhi for his wedding, just before Diwali. With Bani still figuring her citizenship situation amid Abir’s work commitments, the newly-weds’ first Diwali will be on WhatsApp.
“It is our first Diwali together and we haven’t stopped discussing our virtual plans. Abir created a WhatsApp group in which we post pictures, videos and send voice notes to each other so that we feel connected and together on our first Diwali as a couple,” they informed. For 400 million users in India, WhatsApp video calls are the easiest medium to connect to their loved ones in the festive season especially in the social distancing days.
Family group video calls are also growing as WhatsApp has doubled the number of participants in a video or voice call from four to eight people at a time on its platform. People on average are spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls. Captain Pankaj Bahukhandi, 57, serves as a Master Mariner for a shipping company.
Being away for the latter part of the year, he will not be able to spend Diwali with his family in Dehradun. “Like every other time, we will speak on WhatsApp calls and share pictures, videos and voice notes on our family WhatsApp group so that I feel emotionally connected with my family amid the festivities,” he said.
“One app that we are the most comfortable using is WhatsApp. It is so easy to make calls and send pictures. We also put WhatsApp status for our grandkids on their birthdays,” added Rajdeep Tewari and Sandhya Tewari, grandparents to four children, who are working professionals in different countries in the world.