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Indian festival crowds return as COVID-19 horrors fade

World

KOLKATA: India's main religious festival season is back in full swing with huge noisy crowds, thronging markets and fairs for the first time in two years, barely six months after a devastating COVID-19 surge.

The coronavirus is still claiming more than 200 lives daily in the nation of 1.3 billion people but that is down sharply from the 4,000 fatalities in April and May.

Most activities are back to normal and India has administered almost 1 billion vaccine doses, with around 75 per cent of people receiving at least one shot.

India's peak holiday season includes Durga Puja, Dussehra and Deepavali - major Hindu festivals celebrated with noise, colour and exuberance across the country.

It is also the time when people splurge on dresses, sweets, cars and other consumer goods - vital for fuelling the battered economy, the world's sixth-biggest.

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