New Delhi, Nov 9 (UNI) Fireworks illuminated the moonless sky and a wave of festive spirit swept across the country as people today celebrated Dipawali, the festival of lights which signifies victory of good over the evil, amid heightened security.
Reports from across the country said the festival of lights was celebrated with pomp, fervour and gaiety. Besides the Hindus, the Sikhs and Jains also joined in the celebrations.
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil celebrated the festival by meeting thousands of people from different walks of life at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. She also distributed gifts to school children who called on her.
As the day came to a close, people here were seen arranging traditional earthern lamps 'diyas' outside their houses especially the entrances with 'torans' on the doors and 'Rangoli' on the floor.
The Delhi Police put in place heightened security measures and had been taking rounds of all major markets to avoid any untoward incident like the bomb blasts that rocked the capital in October 2005 on the eve of Dipawali, claiming 59 lives.
Metal detectors were erected at the entry points of major markets like Sarojini Nagar, Kamla Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and Karol Bagh. Heavy deployment of security personnel was seen across the city. The city hospitals were also put on alert to face any kind of eventuality.
Amid tight security arrangements in Uttar Pradesh, people had a bang of enjoyment. Long queue of devouts was seen thronging temples, from the morning itself.
The fashion of wishing the festival by exhanging sweatmeats and decorating houses with electronic lights was seen maintained, with fire crackers burst starting late evening in the capital city of Lucknow.
Lakhs of devotees thronged Chitrakoot to participate in the 'Deepawali Mela' and to lit the first earthern lamp (diya). The place holds special importance, as after defeating Ravana, Lord Ram lit the first 'diya' here.
Whereas, Ayodhya, seemed to have taken a dip in the yellow colour, with 'diyas' all around. The festival marks the return of Lord Ram to the city, which was his capital, after 14 years in exile.
Religious fervour and enthusiasm marked the celebrations across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Besides greeting each other and exchanging gifts, there was a large rush of devotees at the Golden Temple in Amritsar since morning. The devotees took a dip in the 'sarowar' (holy tank) and offered prayers at the Harmandir Sahib, the sanctum sanctorum.
As is customary, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vidanti read out his message for the Sikh community after the evening prayers at the Golden Temple. He called upon the Sikhs, particularly the youth to shun all forms of intoxicants and called upon them to get themselves baptised.
In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the celebrations began in the early hours, with the devout making a beeline in temples to offer prayers. Special poojas were performed, where serpentine queues were witnessed.
The Pakistan Rangers greeted their BSF counterparts on the occasion at various places along the international border in Jammu and Kashmir, official spokesman said.
The main function was organised at Octroi border outpost in Suchetgarh, about 35 kms from Jammu, in R S Pura sector where senior officers held a special flag meeting.
Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi and Chief Minister Madhu Koda wished the people of the state on the occasion and urged all to maintain communal harmony in the state.
Opposition leader Arjun Munda also sent Dipawali greetings to the people and hoped the festival would usher in more prosperity to the state.