An Indian man lights an earthen lamp on his balcony to mark the country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in New Delhi, India, on April 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)
Millions of Indians switched off electric lights to light candels and earthen lamps at their homes Sunday to dispel the darness of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated the move last week calling for solidarity among his countrymen in the fight against the disease.
by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
NEW DELHI, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Sheefali Ahujha and her family members gathered in their balcony at their Green Park house minutes before 9:00 p.m. (local time) Sunday, holding candles and placing earthen lamps on the parapet.
No sooner the clock struck 9:00, the family switched off all the lights in their three-storey house and lit the candles and earthen lamps.
Sheefali said the observance was a show of solidarity with the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the fight against COVID-19.
Ahuja's were not alone lighting the lamps. Their neighbours Sharmas and Malik's did the same.
An Indian family lights earthen lamps on their balcony to mark the country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in New Delhi, India, on April 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)
While the elderly people in the neighbourhood were seen holding the candles and earthen lamps, the younger generation were seen holding their mobile phones with their flashlights switched on.
"It was complete darkness here as almost every household switched off the lights. Then slowly the light of candles, earthen lamps and flashlights filled the neighbourhood," Sheefali said.
"We did what the prime minister asked for but at the same time it has placed a burden on the government to intensify its efforts in containing the pandemic," she said.
"Beyond this tokenism, the need of the hour is the government should provide safety gear to the doctors and medical staff and also ensure that more and more people are tested for this contagious disease."
An Indian woman lights earthen lamps on her balcony to mark the country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in New Delhi, India, on April 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)
Modi in a video message on Friday urged people to switch off their lights at homes on Sunday at 9:00 p.m. (local time) and light up candles, torch or mobile flashlights for nine minutes to dispel COVID-19 darkness.
Reports said on his call, cities, towns and villages across the country switched off lights for nine minutes.
This is the second instance since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in India that Modi sought to rally people. Previously he had asked the countrymen to clank the utensils.
Before releasing the video message, Modi had addressed the nation twice since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the first occasion, he called for a day-long public curfew, urging people to observed self-quarantine. In his second address to the nation, he announced a 21-day lockdown in the country to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Residential buildings are illuminated by candles, earthen lamps, and flashlights to mark the country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in New Delhi, India, on April 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)
Sunday marked the 12th straight day of the ongoing nationwide lockdown. Authorities have imposed strict curfew-like restrictions to prevent the movement of people across the country. All road, rail and air services have been suspended in wake of the lockdown, except essential services which are exempted.
Meanwhile, India's federal health ministry Sunday evening said the death toll due to COVID-19 in India rose to 83 and the total number of confirmed cases in the country reached 3,577.
According to ministry officials, 275 people have been discharged from hospitals so far after showing improvement. ■