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Indians light lamps to unite in fight against COVID-19

Last updated on: April 05, 2020 22:39 IST

Millions of Indians across the country switched off lights at their homes and lit candles and diyas or turned on mobile phone torches on Sunday night, responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to show the nation's "collective resolve and solidarity" in its fight against coronavirus with this symbolic gesture.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi lights a lamp as part of his appeal to the country to light 9 diyas for 9 minutes on Sunday. Photograph: @narendramodi/Twitter

Much before the designated time of 9 pm, people turned off lights at their homes while lamps and candles lit up the streets as people stood in their balconies and at entrance doors in unison. Fireworks, sounds from beating of thalis, conches, whistles and police sirens were heard.

At many places the air resonated with the sounds of devotional songs, mantras and national anthem, in scenes similar to the ones seen across the country on March 22 when Modi had sought to rally Indians by asking them to come out briefly at 5 pm to show gratitude to health and other essential service providers.

IMAGE: People light lamps amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Kochi. Photograph: PTI Photo

President Ram Nath Kovind along with wife Savita, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu And his wife Ushamma, several Union ministers including Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch L K Advani and prominent personalities from various fields including Bollywood too lit diyas and candles.

Modi, who had had on Friday urged people to turn off lights at their homes for nine minutes at 9pm to display the country's collective resolve and solidarity to defeat the virus, posted on Twitter his own pictures of lighting lamp.

People continued to stay outside while maintaining social distancing much beyond the nine minutes. In some pockets, Diwali seemed to have arrived months earlier.

IMAGE: President Ram Nath Kovind along with First Lady Savita Kovind along with his family light candles after the call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show a gesture of unity during the nationwide fight against COVID-19, at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Photograph: ANI Photo

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan lit a diya along with AIIMS doctors and staff, whom he calls "Corona warriors", at the Delhi campus.

"Let the brightness of the lights ignite our energies and ensure the victory of good over evil. My prayers go out for all those million homes across the planet who are suffering because of coronavirus. I call upon them all to be a part of this symbolic war over evil forces," he said.

IMAGE: People come out on their balcony and light lamps amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Nagercoil. Photograph: PTI Photo

The PM had asked people to clap or beat thalis on March 22 for five minutes at 5pm while observing 'janta curfew' from 7 am to 9 pm to thank those working in essentials services, and had received an unprecedented and overwhelming response.

IMAGE: Staff members of a hospital carry candles and oil lamps to show solidarity with people who are affected by the coronavirus disease and with doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers from all over the world during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of the disease, in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
The nine-minute lights-out event on Sunday evening went off well without any disruption in the electricity grid after the government and utilities put in place elaborate plans to deal with the sudden drop and then a quick spurt in demand.

SEE: Residents of a society in Chennai Central have turned off lights of their houses

Several opposition leaders had expressed concern that the event could result in grid collapse.

IMAGE: Family members make a replica of India's map with earthen lamps after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for all to express their solidarity to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic in Surat. Photograph: ANI Photo

Jaikishan, 42, a rickshaw puller in Jangpura in Delhi, said he made diyas of wheat flour and lit them hoping the situation will normalise soon and crores of others like him will be able to sail through the crisis.

Aparna Goel, a chartered accountant, said besides lighting diyas and candles, people in her locality played songs like "Ae Malik Tere Bande
Hum" and "Humko Mann ki Shakti Dena".

"Crores of people are doing it at the same time. It has connected all of us in one thread. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in these times of crisis. we are one. India is one," she said.

IMAGE: A view of lamps lit in a housing soceity in New Delhi. Photograph: Subhav Shukla/PTI Photo

In Tamil Nadu, people lit up the traditional 'Kamakshi lamps' and 'Kuthuvilakku', besides the earthen lamps.

The terraces of several buildings were lined up with endless rows of earthen lamps which was nothing short of a visual treat

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit lit a candle after switching off lights of the Raj Bhavan for nine minutes. Chief Minister K Palaniswami, while maintaining distance , lit an earthen lamp at his residence.

Also, Deputy Chief Minister K Pannerselvam, Tamil Nadu ministers including S P Velumani and K Pandiarajan lit lamps in their respective residences.

IMAGE: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu along with his wife light the earthen lamps, to show support for the call by PM Modi to switch off all lights of houses today at 9 pm for 9 minutes & just light candles, 'diyas' or mobile's flashlight, to mark the fight against coronavirus, at Uparashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

Superstar Rajinikanth was among the celebrities who joined the symbolic event against the contagion and he held a candle in his Poes Garden residence.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan lit lamps in Bhopal. At some places, people also raised slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai.

In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath lit lamps arranged in the shape of 'Om'.

IMAGE: BJP president JP Nadda turns off all the lights of his residence and lights earthen lamps. Photograph: ANI Photo

The overall death toll in the country due to the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to 83 and the cases climbed to 3,577 on Sunday after 505 new infections were reported in the past 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry.

India has been on a 21-day lockdown from March 25 to check the spread of coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 65,000 lives globally and inflicted over 12 lakh people since the pandemic first emerged in China in December. 

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