New Delhi: Fireworks lit the sky and houses
wore a festive look decorated with earthen lamps and multi-
colour `rangolis` across India on Diwali which also witnessed
bonhomie along the Indo-Pak border where soldiers of the two
countries exchanged sweets and dry fruits.
It was fun and frolic all around in the festival of
lights as children and youth burst crackers and lit fireworks
while families visited their neighbours, exchanged `Happy
Diwali` greetings and sweets. Youngsters also took the route
of SMS and social networking websites to wish each other.
Diwali or Deepavali (row of lamps), according to Hindu
belief, is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama to
Ayodhya from his exile after vanquishing demon-king Ravana.
The festivities reached a peak in the national capital
and other parts of northern India where people decorated their
homes and shops with colourful `rangolis`, flowers and
lightings and lit `diyas` or earthen lamps.
Indian and Pakistani troops deployed along the Line of
Control exchanged sweets and dry fruits at Chakan-Da-Bagh
crossing point in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian soldiers led by Colonel V P Kristopal handed over
boxes of sweets and dry fruits to their Pakistani counterparts
as a goodwill gesture while from the other side, troops led by
Colonel Omar Gul gifted the goodies to Indians.
At the Attari border joint check post, BSF men gifted
buckets of sweets to their Pakistani counterparts.
In nearby Amritsar, thousands of people paid obeisance in
the sanctum sanctorum of Harmandhar Sahib (Golden Temple), the
holiest Sikh shrine. The temple was illuminated with fancy
electric lights and community feast (langar) was arranged for
three lakh devotees.
On the same day in 1620, sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind Sahib
was released by Mughal emperor Jahangir from Gwalior fort.
In Mumbai, people ushered in the festivities with a
"abhyang snan" (traditional bath) with fragrant oils in the
morning and burst crackers in the evening.
Security was tight across the country while it was
stricter in Delhi and Mumbai. The western metropolis will
have a high-profile visitor in US President Barack Obama
during the weekend.
South Mumbai, where the visiting dignitary will stay and
has the venues which he will visit, was placed under a heavy
security blanket. Mumbaikars did not get a chance to celebrate
Diwali holidays at the Gateway of India as Obama will stay at
the Taj Mahal hotel which has been cordoned off.
Obama will celebrate Diwali at the Holy Name High School
in Colaba on Sunday with students.
The Bollywood film fraternity also took a break from the
gruelling working schedules to celebrate the festival with
family and friends.
Diwali was marked along with Kali Puja in Kolkata, where
tastefully decorated and brightly illuminated pandals
attracted hordes of visitors.
Devotees also thronged Kali temples, including those at
Kalighat, Dakshineswar and at Tarapith, since early morning.
In Tamil Nadu, the young and the old rose early in the
morning to wear new clothes and burst crackers to celebrate
the festival, marking the triumph of good over evil.
Cracker manufacturers, mainly confined to Sivakasi in the
state, had come out with new innovations to light up the
skies. Keeping up its decades-long tradition, the Tamil cinema
industry saw new films being released today, with crowds
thronging the theatres.
In Coimbatore, two lakh Rajasthanis, particularly from
Jain community, did not celebrate Diwali following the murder
of two children, who were pushed into a canal last Friday.
Meanwhile, in Delhi`s Tihar Jail, inmates celebrated
Diwali preparing candles and sweets and listening to poetry
recital by well-known poets like Ashok Chakravarthy and Vijay