| An elderly couple shops for Diwali near the blast site in Paharganj on Tuesday. Picture by Jagan Negi
New Delhi, Nov. 1: In some neighbourhoods, the candles and lamps could almost be in homage to the dead. Still struggling to cope with its trauma, Delhi today went easy on the firecrackers, choosing to observe a rather subdued Diwali.
Streets and neighbourhoods were unusually quiet as families mourned their dead, nursed the injured or kept searching for familiar faces among the unclaimed bodies three days after the market blasts.
“Diwali this year has been rather low-key. There’s definitely less noise,” said Mukesh Mathur, resident of Greater Kailash. “Some people in our neighbourhood lost relatives and friends.”
“We haven’t had good sales this time. People came and bought firecrackers at the last minute; for many of them, it’s a token celebration,” said Ramesh Chaudhry, a vendor in Sarojini Nagar, which witnessed one of the blasts.
The recent Supreme Court order banning the bursting of firecrackers beyond 10 pm, which police are determined to enforce, may have played a part.
“I thought the Supreme Court order would increase the noise in the morning, but even that has not happened,” said Janaki Raman, a housewife in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar. “It’s now a little noisier in the evening, but it used to be deafening earlier.”
Over 40 fires and a bomb hoax, however, have been reported since midnight, though no one has been injured. Most of the fires occurred in slums, with one burning down about a hundred shacks in Lodhi Colony.
Fire officials rushed to Najafgarh after a bomb scare, but found the call was a hoax.
In Mumbai, where twin car bombs killed over 50 people in 2003, children in bright new clothes were seen on the streets since early morning, bursting crackers and eating sweetmeats and chocolate. But here, too, the Delhi blasts cast a shadow.
“The Delhi blasts have to an extent dampened the city’s spirits. People are afraid to go out into crowded areas,” said customs clearing agent Rajesh Didwania outside his office.
Tamil Nadu, too, missed one popular feature of past Diwalis ' the Kanchi acharya’s message that used to be lapped up by the media. Today, the major dailies and the special Diwali editions of magazines ignored the seer.
The media is playing it safe: playing up the pontiff’s statements could annoy chief minister Jayalalithaa.