Diwali celebrated across Punjab, Haryana amid coronavirus-triggered restrictions
During the day, devotees made a beeline at temples and gurdwaras to offer prayers. In Chandigarh, the administration had imposed a complete ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.PTI | Chandigarh | Updated: 14-11-2020 20:24 IST | Created: 14-11-2020 20:24 IST
Diwali, the festival of lights, was celebrated across Punjab, Haryana and their common capital Chandigarh on Saturday with fervour amid COVID-19-triggered restrictions at several places. Earthen lamps, candles and electric lights dotted houses and people exchanged sweets and gifts on the occasion while bursting of firecrackers was restricted at many places. During the day, devotees made a beeline at temples and gurdwaras to offer prayers.
In Chandigarh, the administration had imposed a complete ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In Punjab, there was a two-hour window (8 pm to 10 pm) for use of green firecrackers, except in Mandi Gobindgarh, where a total ban has been imposed from the midnight of November 9 till November 30 midnight on account of its poor AQI levels.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on Friday appealed to the people to celebrate the festivals of Diwali and Bandi Chhor Diwas in a green, environment-friendly and COVID-safe manner. He had also urged the people to refrain from bursting firecrackers altogether, even though the state government had allowed a 2-hour window in this regard, to check pollution, which could further aggravate the coronavirus situation.
In accordance with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directions, the Haryana government imposed a complete ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) from the midnight of November 9 to the midnight of November 30. At other places, including Bahadurgarh, Ballabgarh, Dharuhera, Ambala and Manesar, where the air quality was in 'very poor' category during the current month, the state government had said the sale and use of firecrackers was banned in these places.
However, in other places of Haryana, citizens were allowed to burst crackers only for two hours, 8 pm to 10 pm, on Diwali. Police force was deployed in strength at various places to check violations regarding bursting of crackers. The Golden Temple in Amritsar was illuminated with special lighting system and traditional 'diyas'. It witnessed a huge rush of devotees who took a dip in its holy tank and offered prayers at the sanctum sanctorum.
The task force of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was also deployed in the periphery of the Golden Temple. Community kitchen were arranged for the devotees who will stay in the Golden temple complex all through Diwali night. Meanwhile, 'Bandi Chhor Divas' (prisoner release day) was celebrated in Punjab, to mark the historical release of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind, from the Mughal prison along with 52 kings in 1620.
Guru Hargobind directly reached the Golden Temple after his release, whereupon the holy city was illuminated and decorated and people lit earthen lamps to celebrate his release. Meanwhile, with several farmer outfits agitating against the Centre's new farm laws, peasants at many places in Punjab including Amritsar, Mohali, Sangrur and Faridkot districts held protests on Diwali day. In Amritsar, farmers led by Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee leader Sarwan Singh Pandher held a protest against the farm laws and wore black arm bands. Some farmer outfits had announced to observe 'black Diwali' against the new farm laws, which they have dubbed as "anti-farmers".
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