Diwali: Somber festivity in flood-hit areas

Diwali or festival of lights was observed with austerity in Kashmir Thursday in the wake of devastating floods that left behind a huge trail of death and destruction last month. No firecrackers were burst and no ‘diyas’ lit up in the flood-hit areas—something that would otherwise mark the occasion in the Valley.
In Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar and Tulsibagh localities of Srinagar, locals said they would hear the sound of firecrackers on every Diwali. “Today the people are homeless; how can we celebrate Diwali?” asked Roop Kumar, a resident of Jawhar Nagar. He said though many of his relatives visited him at a makeshift tent, the taste of the festivity was “definitely missing.”
CRPF men posted in bunkers at Tulsibagh were also seen observing the occasion with austerity. “We have orders to celebrate the festival in a simple way,” said Sant Kumar, a CRPF man. His colleagues echoed a similar view.
Kumar said many of his neighbours celebrated Diwali last year with full gaiety but this year the situation is all together different. “The sound of crackers that comes occasionally is from the CRPF pickets located in a few places around LalChowk.
The fact is that no occasion can be celebrated when you are homeless. Festival means nothing for the homeless people,” he said.
At Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps headquarters that bore the brunt of floods, the occasion was celebrated without any pomp and show. “We performed ‘puja’ but didn’t burst any fire crackers,” said Lt Colonel NN Joshi, Army spokesman.
At Shivpora, where the last month’s deluge wreaked havoc, Diwali was observed in a somber manner. “We decided not to burst crackers but invite all friends to share the trouble we faced during floods. On this occasion, we planned how to reconstruct our damaged homes,” said Meena, a resident of Jammu, who resides at Shivpora.

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