Holding a burning candle, two siblings join the residents during the thanksgiving service Credit: EastMojo Image
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Kohima: Amid fear and stigma around coronavirus or COVID-19, locals at New Market colony in Kohima organized a thanksgiving candlelight service to welcome recovered COVID-19 patients back to their homes.

On Sunday night, the area panchayat organized a short thanksgiving ceremony to show love to the COVID-19 recovered patients. Many residents lighted candles and torches from their balconies and terraces as they sang and prayed together. The New Market Youth Organization also presented gift hampers to the recovered patients and greeted them.

Speaking with EastMojo, Chairman of the New Market Area Panchayat Ruokuobizo Nyusou said “We never planned to do this. But it came out naturally as we feel so happy for their return. This happiness, without thanking the supreme one, is incomplete. So that is why this service is a joyous service and thanksgiving service”.

Recovered patients and their families stand by the foot-path as they are warmly received by the locals in the area

While people exposed or infected with COVID-19 are often stigmatized, the noble deed of these locals shows otherwise. “It is the policy of the government not to stigmatize, but very often we hear about stigmatization. So we thought that our place, our poor place should be the first to show that stigma does not exist in our society. We want to show them love,” Nyusou said.

“Of course we have to be careful but despising them and ignoring them or keeping them aside is not in our dictionary and not in our books. We love them equally as we did before” the chairman added.

Earlier, the area also managed quarantine centres. Nyusou said that during those times, the identity of the inmates were never disclosed. However, the identity of COVID-19 patients became an “an open secret”. “So we openly welcome them back,” he said.

Gift hampers attached with bible quotations being handed to recovered patients

12 COVID-19 cases have been detected in the area so far, a total of 11 patients have recovered. One recovered patient from the locality is yet to be discharged from the hospital. Another COVID-19 patient is in home isolation.

Among the 10 who were warmly received on Sunday, three are female, and seven are male, the youngest being a four year old. Besides one active COVID-19 case, all 11 recovered patients lived in the same building at the new market. Around a thousand candles were lighted in the area during the service to show love to the recovered patients.

The first among them to be infected spoke to EastMojo expressing gratitude for the unending support showed by the local area leaders. Rajesh Kumar Choudhary said that he tested positive for COVID-19 in the first week of August after all staffs at the Raj Bhavan were sent for testing.

He said, unlike many other localities where people exposed to COVID-19 were stigmatized, the leaders and the locals in the are has been very supportive. “We must not stigmatize. We must support one another,” he said.

The 29-year-old appreciated the residents in the area and the chairman. “Wherever it is, in every locality, everyone must extend support like the way I have received,” he said. The recovered patient acknowledged the almighty and all residents in the area for the constant prayer and support.

A volunteer lighting candles

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