India celebrates Diwali, 32 die in Tamil Nadu (Roundup)

October 17th, 2009 - 7:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) Diwali, the festival of lights, was celebrated across India Saturday with prayers, fireworks and frenzied shopping but it was marred by tragedy in Tamil Nadu.
With the economy slowly recovering from the recession that badly hit Diwali last year, people celebrated the festival with fervour and with greater enthusiasm.

Many thronged temples, distributed sweets and wished friends and relatives, with SMS messages - which seem to have replaced the traditional greeting cards - going to and fro throughout the day.

Innumerable homes across the country witnessed colourful rangolis and flowers on doorsteps. There were prayers to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity.

In the evening, millions of lights from tiny earthen diyas and dazzling strings of electric bulbs lit up homes, factories and offices from one of the country to another.

Tragedy struck Tamil Nadu’s Pallipatu village, some 90 km from Chennai, when a devastating fire engulfed a godown packed with shoppers for crackers, charring 32 to death. Most victims were from Andhra Pradesh.

Barring this tragedy, it was a joyous day everywhere.

Marketing professional Radhika Mishra said in New Delhi: “I got up early and went to the temple with my family. Like every year my sister and I decorated the courtyard with rangolis and diyas.”

Many extended their Diwali weekend to take a small vacation.

“I took the opportunity to go to Jodhpur with my wife,” engineer Prateek Shah told IANS.

In Karnataka, victims of the recent floods too joined the celebrations.

“I am going to enjoy Diwali fully. I want to forget all the sad incidents and welcome a new beginning,” Santosh Nair, a techie, told IANS.

Reports of Diwali celebrations also came from Tripura and Assam in the northeast.

In Udaipur in south Tripura, a large fair was organised at the 14th century Tripura Sundari Temple with the government contributing over Rs.3 million.

Two buffaloes and hundreds of goats and pigeons will be sacrificed Saturday night in the presence of hundreds of thousands of devotees, said Subrata Deb, chairperson of the Udaipur municipality.

West Bengal celebrated Kali Puja and Diwali, with the police keeping a close vigil to prevent use of banned sound-producing crackers.

At the famed Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, Diwali celebrations began with the auctioning of valuable offerings made to its coffers.

Most households also prepared sweets and savouries and the special ‘Diwali Leghium’, a herbal jam.

For newly married couples, it was the first Diwali post their wedding.

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