Fireworks illuminated the evening sky, earthen lamps dotted houses and lights decked up buildings as people exchanged sweets and gifts on the occasion of Diwali.
People burst crackers, lit fireworks and visited their kith and kin, exchanging festive greetings and sweets while social media, including the likes of WhatsApp and Twitter, was flooded with Diwali messages as many took the virtual route to convey their wishes.
President Pranab Mukherjee greeted the countrymen and hoped that the festival of light “dispels the darkness of ignorance and illuminates peoples’ lives with hope and prosperity“.
Greeting people on the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated this year’s Diwali to the armed forces, saying Rs. 5,500 crore has been paid for implementing the OROP scheme, “fulfilling the promise” he made to them.
This was the third successive year that the Prime Minister spent Diwali with the troops.
Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya from his exile after vanquishing demon-king Ravana.
In the national capital, people decorated their homes and shops with colourful ‘rangolis’ and flowers and lit diyas.
At Antehri in Kurukshetra, the native village of Mandeep Singh, who was killed by terrorists in Machil sector of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, villagers decided not to celebrate Diwali as a mark of respect to his sacrifice.
However, each household lit a ‘diya’ in his memory.
In Jammu, people were seen exchanging sweets and bursting crackers. A huge rush of shoppers was witnessed across the region with people purchasing sweets and gift items.
Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place across the region in the wake of the heightened tensions on the International Border and the Line of Control and the increase in infiltration attempts from across the border.
A large number of people also went to border areas to celebrate the festival with soldiers guarding the frontiers in the region.
The Golden Temple in Punjab was illuminated with lights and the traditional ‘diyas’ while ‘langar’ (community kitchen) arrangements were made for more than four lakhs devotees who would stay in the Sikh shirine through the night.
Meanwhile, people in eight villages surrounding a bird sanctuary in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district have not been bursting crackers during the festival for the last 17 years as they fear that its loud sound might scare away the migratory birds.
About 750 families live in the surrounding eight villages of Vellode bird sanctuary, established in 1996 in 80 hectares of land.
People also celebrated Diwali in other parts of the country with traditional fervour and gaiety. Devotees thronged temples and offered prayers.
Bollywood turned to Twitter to greet the people and also to ask fans to go slow on crackers. Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Ajay Devgan’s Shivaay were this year’s Diwali releases.