MUMBAI – Indians came out onto their balconies and stood near open windows to clap, clang metal vessels and ring bells on Sunday to cheer emergency workers battling the spread of the coronavirus during a nationwide lockdown.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked citizens to stay indoors for a voluntary dawn-to-dusk curfew, but said they should make noise at 5 p.m. (1130 GMT) to show their appreciation for medics, nurses and sanitation workers.
People responded by blowing conch shells, singing patriotic songs and banging drums. Outside, the usually bustling streets were quiet.
Many had planned early by sharing recordings of drum beats, conch, bells and trumpets to be played on speakers. Some had carried out noisy rehearsals on Saturday evening.
India has confirmed 341 cases of the virus and five related deaths, as of Sunday. Modi described the 14-hour curfew as a test to assess the country’s ability to fight the pandemic.
Many of his supporters praised the celebrations. Some even went as far as saying the positive energy would help push back the virus – though the government quickly put out messages on Twitter saying the display of gratitude would have no impact on the virus’s spread.
“Mr. Modi is creating energy medicine through you,” wellness coach Vedantika Puri said in a video on Instagram.
Others called for more concrete action.
“There was no announcement of special services that the central government will offer or initiatives that they would take to tackle the economic crash that the country will experience soon,” a Twitter user with the handle @ambedkaright said. “Just clap!”