"The moment for which we waited so long. We are the #Champion5 #JoyMohunBagan," read a post from Kolkata football giants Mohun Bagan's official Twitter account.
Undoubtedly, thousands of Mohun Bagan fans must have been feeling the same way. After 8 months of waiting, the I-League trophy, deservedly won by the Green and Maroons in a season that was abruptly cut short, was finally handed over to players and coaches in presence of club president Swapan Sadhan Bose and the entire executive committee members at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kolkata.
Mohun Bagan fans, passionate as they come, gathered for a city-wide procession with their title — they rallied through the streets of EM Bypass, Ultodanga, Shyambazar, Girish Park, and Dharmatala.
And as the rally took place, social media was alive and well. Videos were being posted from the erstwhile I-League club's official social media handles, demonstrating the strength of the fan base, in all its glory. Fans clad in Green and Maroon hoisted the club's flags, raised their voices as they walked on.
Important personalities from the Indian football fraternity heralded the occasion. One in particular wrote: "Kolkata can only get this kind of atmosphere for a #TrophyTour #JoyMohunBagan… This is a billion dollar atmosphere which is in existence for a century. Wish we could have made best use of this."
After all, it marked a joyous occasion.
Ever since the merger with Sanjiv Goenka-owned ATK FC, which paved the pathway for their entry into the ISL, rival fans have been bellowing the propaganda 'Mohun Bagan is dead'. This rally, this procession, this trophy celebration was an answer to that — a 131-year-old institute can not die.
Amid all this, though, everyone seemed to have forgotten one tiny-teeny detail. It was not so long ago that the entire country was in lockdown because a deadly virus had disrupted life as we know it.
The coronavirus pandemic, since February-March, has claimed millions of lives worldwide. India, itself, is already on track to overtake the United States with the world's most novel coronavirus infections. In fact, the country is bracing for a surge of cases in coming weeks with an economy freed of virus restrictions.
People, especially those in Kolkata, seem to have forgotten that the virus is still at large. If you ask me, peak stupidity is on display in the city. The Kolkatans give the impression that the pandemic has ended and with the festive season set to begin this week, the situation is only going to get worse.
Only a couple of days back West Bengal registered the highest single-day spike in cases as 3,720 infections pushed up the numbers.
If that isn't alarming enough what is?
Few in Mohun Bagan's title rally were seen wearing masks, the basic safety net one should adopt. Social distancing norms were forgotten as the fans danced and celebrated as if there was no tomorrow.
The fans aren't to be blamed, they will celebrate, they have the right to do so. It was the club which should have taken a stand.
When Liverpool Football Club lifted the Premier League, their first in 30 years, the club repeated their calls for fans not to congregate outside Anfield on Wednesday night. They condemned any kind of gathering, asking fans to stay at home and enjoy the moment.
"I promise again that we will have this party at an appropriate time. The first possibility, we will use to do exactly what everybody deserves. But we can do it only if everybody behaves appropriately. So, stay at home, celebrate there in a safe place with your families, and a second household or whatever. And keep it in your mind that we will be together, all together, when it's possible again. I understand it's a tricky situation, I really can understand," the club's iconic manager Jurgen Klopp had said.
Did that mean the fans stayed home? No. A few hundred gathered on the streets of Liverpool, waited outside the players' homes and greeted them as they arrived. But most complied.
If a club like Liverpool could put off the celebrations after having to wait three decades (no less) for the league title, the same could have been done by Mohun Bagan.
Ironically, though, amid all the procession and pomp, it was the I-League trophy which was kept in isolation, away from the scare of the deadly virus, inside a glass cascade placed in an open jeep, lest it contract Covid-19!