Diyas, Crackers Make for 'Mini Diwali' as India Cheers Modi's 'Lights Out' Call; No Grid Glitches Reported

New Delhi: Lakhs of families across India heeded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to turn off electric lights and use candles, diyas and flashlights for nine minutes at 9pm on Sunday to commemorate the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic which has so far claimed 83 lives and infected more than 3,500 people.

As the clock struck 9pm, lights went out in most houses and people gathered in balconies, flashing mobile lights while a few of them lit candles and diyas. Firecrackers could be heard in few residential colonies in Delhi and Noida, while some residents also blew conch shells.

People light lamps to mark the country's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Mumbai. (Image: AP)

People light lamps to mark the country's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Mumbai. (Image: AP)

In a video message broadcast last week, Modi said such a gesture will dispel the darkness created by the coronavirus and show that people are together in their fight against the epidemic.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mother lights a diya on Sunday night.

“You may be alone at home but 130 crore people are with you,” he had said while making the appeal to fuse a sense of unity and purpose among people during the ongoing lockdown.

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A firecracker goes up as flash lights and candles are seen on the roof tops and high rise residential buildings in Greater Noida on Sunday. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Modi’s ‘9pm, 9 minutes’ appeal was the second such gesture during the India-wide lockdown imposed to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus which has claimed 65,000 lives worldwide. The Prime Minister had earlier asked them to clap or beat utensils on March 22 for five minutes at 5pm while observing 'janta curfew' from 7am to 9pm to thank those working in essentials services.

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A family holds lamps to mark the country's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Ahmedabad on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

On March 24, Modi announced a 21-day lockdown across the country from March 25 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, asserting that social distancing was the only way to deal with the deadly virus.

A woman lights earthen lamps to mark the country's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Hyderabad. (Image: AP)

A woman lights earthen lamps to mark the country's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Hyderabad. (Image: AP)

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to 83 and the cases climbed to 3,577 in the country on Sunday after 505 new infections were reported in the past 24 hours. The active COVID-19 cases stand at 3,219, while 274 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated. Seven deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours, the health ministry data stated.

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Indians light candles and torches to mark the country's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Mumbai, on April 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu along with his wife Ushamma lit lamps at the Uparashtrapati Bhawan to express solidarity with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. "Through their overwhelming response to the prime minister's call, the people of India have once again reasserted the country's steely resolve to overcome the crisis caused by the pandemic," an official statement quoted Naidu as saying.

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Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu lights a lamp with his wife on Sunday night.

In Goa, several people stood in their balconies in Panaji, Margao, Mapusa, Ponda, Vasco and other cities, and lit lamps and candles. Some of them switched on flashlights of their mobile phones.

Many people in Bhopal and other places in Madhya Pradesh switched off lights of their homes and lit up oil lamps and candles. Fireworks, thalis and whistles were heard. At some places, devotional songs, mantras and national anthem were also played. In Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior and other towns a large number of people participated in this campaign.

In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the speaker of UP Legislative Assembly, too, lit lamps at their official residences in Lucknow. Adityanath lit lamps arranged in the shape of 'Om'. Some people in the state capital blew conch shells and exploded firecrackers on this occasion to express their solidarity. The explosion of firecrackers continued at least till 9:15 pm.

There was a tremendous response to Prime Minister's appeal in Haryana as well where people in villages, small towns and big cities such as Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rohtak, Hisar, Karnal and Panchkula lit candles and lamps. At some places, including Rohtak, policemen who were on duty also lit candles and turned on mobile phone torch.

Lights were also switched off at the official residence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here tonight for nine minutes from 9 pm. Various ministers also took part by switching of the lights of their official residences.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan along with his wife lit lamps at the Raj Bhavan to express people's unity in fighting COVID-19.

NO POWER GLITCH

The nine-minute event went off well without any disruption in the electricity grid after the government and utilities put in place elaborate plans to deal with the sudden drop and then a quick spurt in demand.

Power Minster R K Singh told PTI, "The power supply ramp down and ramp up - they (officials) handled very smoothly, and I along with my senior officials -- power secretary, POSCO CMD -- were personally monitoring the situation from National Monitoring Centre in the ministry. I congratulate all the engineers of NLDC, RLDC and SLDCs for handling the situation very efficiently especially in huge response to the Prime Minister's call".

He also lauded power gencos NTPC and NHPC for rising up to the occasion.

There were apprehensions about adverse affect on the electricity grid due to the blackout among the people which were dispelled by the Ministry of Power on Saturday saying these are misplaced.

The government on Saturday sought to assuage fears of electricity grid instability due to simultaneous switching on and off of most lights in the country, saying adequate protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand without causing any damage to appliances.