Diwali, the festival of lights, was celebrated across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh Wednesday with fervour and enthusiasm.
Devotees made a beeline at temples and gurdwaras to offer prayers.
There was a festive spirit during the day in the two states and their common capital Chandigarh with people thronging the markets and markets for the last minute shopping.
Diyas (earthen lamps) and candles dotted houses and people exchanged sweets and gifts on the occasion.
Children burst crackers at various places, including Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhianan, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Ambala, Rohtak, Hisar, Faridabad and Bhiwani.
Detailed instructions had been issued to the authorities concerned to maintain strict vigil on Diwali night so that the directions of the Supreme Court regarding bursting of crackers for two hours — 8 pm to 10 pm — were not violated.
Security was heightened across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, especially in and around vital installations, markets and places of worship, officials said. There was no report of any untoward incident from any place, police said.
The Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, in Amritsar was illuminated with a newly-installed special lighting system and traditional ‘diyas’.
It witnessed a huge rush of devotees who took a dip in its holy tank and offered prayers at the sanctum sanctorum and Akal Takht (highest Sikh temporal seat).
he task force of the Shriomani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was also deployed in the periphery of the Golden Temple.
Langar (community kitchen) arrangements were made for more than four lakh devotees who will stay in the temple all through Diwali night. This year, the SGPC has decided to reduce the time of bursting firecrackers from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ (prisoner release day) was celebrated in Punjab, to mark the historical release of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind, from the Mughal prison along with 52 kings in 1620.
Guru Hargobind after his release directly reached the Golden Temple, whereupon the holy city was illuminated and decorated and people lit earthen lamps to celebrate his release.