NEW DELHI, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- India Thursday celebrated Diwali, with people across the country lighting earthen lamps in their homes, bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets to mark the Hindu festival of lights.
The three-day festival began Tuesday with Dhanteras - a day many believe is auspicious for making gold and silver purchases.
"On Dhanteras, we bought few gold ornaments. Today is Diwali. So, we performed Hindu rituals in our home in the evening and my children have now started bursting fireworks to celebrate the occasion," said Sonia Verma, a housewife in Delhi.
People bursted firecrackers in Delhi, though not in a large scale, notwithstanding the fact that India's Supreme Court earlier this week banned the sale of fireworks in the Indian capital and its adjoining cities to curb rising pollution levels.
"We have some fire crackers left from last year's stocks, which we are disposing of. This year, we could not buy any crackers, Anyway, I welcome the step taken by the top court to curb pollution which is harming everyone," said Sameer Singh, a software engineer in Delhi.
Last year's Diwali resulted in a threefold increase in dangerous particulate matter for days after the festival.
Both Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered good wishes to citizens. "May this auspicious festival brighten your lives with prosperity and good health and may there be happiness all around," Modi tweeted.
Modi spent the day with Indian soldiers at Gurez, a picturesque valley along the Line of Control in Indian-controlled Kashmir. To boost the morale of the troops, he said that like everyone else, he was spending the festival with his "family."
One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, people dress up in new clothes or their best outfits, light up lamps and candles inside and outside their homes, and participate in family puja (prayers).
After puja follow fireworks and a family feast, including sweets and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends.
"This is our biggest festival which we celebrate with family every year. It's a festival which unites us. It's a festival when we forget everything and even embrace our enemies. It's celebration of bonding," said Subhra Dikshit, a Delhi resident.