**New Delhi: ** The festive fervour gripped the nation on Thursday as people celebrated Diwali, often referred to as ‘the festival of lights by lighting ‘diyas (earthen lamps), paying obeisance to Goddess Lakshmi, distributing sweets, and well, bursting crackers.
In Delhi, the cracker-bursting was relatively subdued as compared to previous years, thanks to a temporary ban imposed by the Supreme Court on selling and bursting of crackers.
However, the revelers in the adjoining townships of Delhi such as Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad paid little heed to the apex court’s writ and environmentalists’ concerns.
At 10 p.m., in Mandir Marg in Delhi, the PM 2.5 concentration was 390 units against the prescribed 60 units, while PM 10 was 480 against the prescribed 100.
However, the nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide concentrations at 50.84 and 31.20 respectively were well under the prescribed limits.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with soldiers in Gurez valley of Jammu and Kashmir near the Line of Control (LoC), telling them how he gets energised by spending time with the Armed Forces which he called “my family”.
He offered sweets and gifts and exchanged greetings with them, appreciating the sacrifices of armed forces in protecting the country.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath celebrated Diwali at the Tikonia Vantangiya Dalit colony in Gorakhpur. He gifted the children dresses, school bags, sparkling lights (firecrackers) and sweets.
Greeting the people of Uttar Pradesh, Adityanath said that Diwali not only symbolises Lord Ram’s return from exile but also the return of good and just times.
In Amritsar, fireworks display and the newly-installed LEDs lighting marked the celebrations of Diwali and “Bandi Chhor Diwas” as thousands of devotees flocked to the Golden Temple complex.
However, the duration of fireworks display was shortened owing to environmental concerns.
The Diwali day coincides with the returning of Guru Hargobind to Amritsar after being released along with 52 princes from imprisonment by the Mughal emperor Jahangir from Gwalior prison in 1619.
The guru and the princes arrived in Amritsar during Diwali festivities. Since then, the Bandi Chhor Diwas and Diwali celebrations coincide at the Golden Temple complex.
Elsewhere in Punjab, markets wore a festive look on the occasion of Diwali but traders said sales were down owing to the GST (Goods and Services Tax) introduced recently and the restrictions imposed on the bursting of crackers.
West Bengal plunged into religious fervour with simultaneous Diwali and Kali Puja celebrations. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greeted people on the twin festivals.
People across the state exchanged sweets and savouries with friends, neighbours and relatives. The festival saw the mingling of a sizeable population of non-Bengali communities (Marwari, Gujarati, Bihari) and Bengalis across the state to celebrate Diwali.
Ululations (high pitched vocal sounds) and peals of bells resonated across temples and residences observing Kali Puja, adding to the festive spirit.
People hit the streets in their best ethnic wears, making way through various marquees and stopping for a bite.
In Odisha, heavy rainfall on Thursday dampened Diwali celebrations and the festive spirit, forcing the people to stay indoors.