On Sunday, the lights went out in homes across Pune at 9 pm as diyas, candles, cellphone torches and fairy lights came on. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged Indians to “stay home, spread the brightness and further the spirit of unity” — but residents in Pune and its outskirts also lit firecrackers, shouted slogans and blowing conch shells — for a lot longer than nine minutes.
“With the diyas lit on our window sills, several of us shouted Bharat Mata ki jai and Go Corona Go. We could not meet because everybody is in isolation but we made sure our voices carried through the silence and invigorated all who heard,” said a resident of Spine Road, Moshi Pradhikaran, in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Similar slogans were heard across the city accompanied by renditions of Vande Mataram and Hum hongey kaamyab. In areas such as Pashan-Sus Road, children joined in with chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya. “The festive mood continued for longer than nine minutes with songs being sung in chorus by the elderly and children from balconies,” said a resident of Pashan-Sus Road.
City MP Girish Bapat and his wife and BJP chief Jagdish Malik and his family participated by lighting lamps at their house. Several residents said the evening resembled a subdued Diwali. When the sloganeering ceased, people went indoors and electric lights came on but the diyas and candles continued to decorate windowsills, balconies and terraces. “Diwali symbolises the victory of light over dakness, which is what is required in the current situation,” said a resident of Shivajinagar.
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