This was the second “collective display” to show unity in the fight against the virus requested by the Prime Minister since the lockdown started
New Delhi, April 5:
People around the country switched off non-essential lights and stood in the balconies and verandas of their house with candles, lanterns and diyas (earthen lamps) tonight, following a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “challenge the darkness spread by the coronavirus crisis”.
Across major cities, towns and villages, people confined to their homes by the Prime Minister’s 21-day “total lockdown” lit up the night sky with a display of light meant to signify the country’s collective will to contain the highly infectious novel coronavirus.
People also burst firecrackers, blew conches (horns), rang temple bells and shouted and cheered to show their support, as a celebratory mood took over large swathes of the country.
Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP (Telugu Desam Party) chief N Chandrababu was among the first political leaders to post on social media, tweeting: “In response to Narendra Modiji’s call, I have joined my fellow citizens to light candles, pramithalu (diyas) and remind ourselves of our shared responsibility to defeat #Coronavirus together- Live #9baje9mintues”.
Interestingly, although the country is under the Prime Minister’s “total lockdown” and only shops selling essential items are allowed to function, a number of makeshift roadside shops and carts sold diyas at various places across the country on Sunday.
On Friday the Prime Minister urged people to turn off lights, stand in their balconies and hold candles, diyas, and even mobile phone flashlights, for nine minutes in a nationwide show of solidarity.
This was the second “collective display” to show unity in the fight against the virus requested by the Prime Minister since the lockdown started.
He had earlier asked people to stand outside houses and in balconies and clap, or bang utensils together, for five minutes at 5 pm to celebrate medical staff involved in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The Prime Minister’s latest request had sparked fears among state electricity boards that the sudden mass power fluctuations – as millions switched off and then switched lights back on at the same time – could overload the system.
The Union Power Ministry subsequently issued a statement allaying such fears and added “lights in hospitals and all other essential services… will remain on”. Nevertheless, state power boards had asked workers to be on stand-by to handle the adverse impact, if any, during or after the event.
Fortunately, no major power outages or blackouts were reported.
There are more than 3,500 COVID-19 positive cases in the country, including at least 83 deaths linked to the virus. The nation went under the “total lockdown” on March 25 in an attempt to break the chain of transmission of the virus. Worldwide 1.2 million people have been infected and nearly 66,000 killed.