Modi celebrates Diwali with soldiers in J&K

Modi celebrates Diwali with soldiers in J&K

He laid a wreath at the war memorial as a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives for the country in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district to celebrate Diwali with the soldiers on Thursday.

He said that the surgical strike in 2016 across the line of control (LoC) signified great professionalism and capability of the Indian army and that he was constantly on phone to ensure the last soldier returned home safely.

He laid a wreath at the war memorial as a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives for the country in Jammu and Kashmir.

"All the soldiers who carried out the surgical strike made me feel proud by returning to their unit safely," he said.

"Many efforts were made to disrupt peace in J&K after the surgical strike, but our soldiers kept their morale high and defeated all such moves by giving a befitting reply," Modi said.

He said that while the entire country celebrates Azadi ka Amrut Mahautsav to mark the 75 years of Independence, the government has new targets and new challenges ahead.

"There was a time when our forces were fully dependent on foreign arms.

"Our soldiers would wait for the spare parts of defence equipment from the foreign countries. It would take years to receive such consignments. The army officer who would sign the procurement deal had to wait till his retirement to receive the same.

"Today, country's 65 per cent defence budget is being spent within the country to manufacture the equipment. Today, we manufacture Arjun tanks and Tejas aircraft within the country.

"More than 200 items including spare parts and other equipment are being made in India itself.

"This way, we have reduced our dependence on foreign arms", the Prime Minister said.

He said that from now onwards women would get admission in all defence schools, colleges and academies.

"Our army is different from the forces of other countries. It is because of your age-old custom, tradition, great professionalism, and commitment towards your motherland.

"You worship your motherland and this is not seen in any other country. This is what makes you different from others.

"I am feeling privileged to be with you on the special occasion of Diwali," the Prime Minister said.

Diwali, one of the biggest festivals in India, begins on Thursday, Nov. 4. It is celebrated around the world by followers of the Hindu faith and beyond.

Diwali is a festival of lights and one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, notably Newar Buddhists.

The first day of Diwali in Dubai is considered a shopping day. People decorate their homes with lights, offers sweets and materials of daily use. Markets of Dubai are filled with people; sweet shops flourish with hustling customers. People also buy gifts for family and friends, ranging from sweets to gold/silver jewellery.

Socialising and exchanging gifts with family and friends typically celebrate Diwali. Many light oil lamps or candles to symbolise a victory of light over darkness, and fireworks are set off as part of the celebrations.

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Last year, a renewed spike in COVID-19 infections upended celebrations in India, but festivities this year seem to be back. Even though the government has asked people to avoid large gatherings, markets have been buzzing ahead of Diwali, with eager crowds buying flowers, lanterns and candles.

As dusk fell on Wednesday, over 900,000 earthen lamps were lit and kept burning for 45 minutes in the northern city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state, retaining the Guinness World Record it set last year. As part of the Diwali celebrations, the city last year lit 606,569 oil lamps.

The lamps were lit at Ram ki Pauri, at the banks of Saryu River, a stunning spectacle for thousands of visitors who thronged its shores while ignoring coronavirus social distancing norms. A laser and fireworks show followed, illuminating the city's lanes and river banks. Thousands of city residents also lit lamps at their houses and temples.

The festival is being celebrated at a time when India's pandemic crisis has largely subsided.

On Thursday, the country recorded over 12,000 new coronavirus cases and 461 deaths, a far cry from earlier this year when India buckled under a few hundred thousand new infections every day.

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