On Friday, PM Modi addressed the nation and asked the citizens to give him 9 minutes of their time at 9 pm on Sunday to end the "darkness" of COVID-19 by lighting candles or flashing torches, mobile phones from their doors or balconies.
130 crore Indians are in this. You aren't alone, he assured.
"The way you paid gratitude to people fighting against Covid-19 on March 22 has become a model that is being emulated by other countries. Janata curfew and ringing of bells/clanging utensils, made the country aware of its unity amid this challenging time," he said.Almost instantly, Twitter was lit up with candles and diyas and many started "gearing up" for Diwali in April.
Candles or lights on 9 pm for 9 mins at 5th April ♥️ It will feel like Diwali — Miss Mridu (@x_Tulip_xx) April 3, 2020
Modi Ji : 5 April at 9:00 pm and light a candle and fight the corona #Diwali #ModiVideoMessage Me : pic.twitter.com/AVs4mRXnY9 — Epic_Boy ☆ (@Vishalrajput105) April 3, 2020
Only Modi could bring Diwali back in April — Himanshu (@TheIndianGooner) April 3, 2020
"Diya gif", "candle HD photos", "NASA fake Diwali India" and many other keywords saw a spike on Google in India soon after PM's address.
But amidst the "Diwali celebrations" on social media on Friday, concerned citizens also anticipated for the worst - Indians going out on the streets to burst crackers and defeating the purpose of a 21-day lockdown that was put in place to encourage social distancing.
I hope , people wil not misunderstand this time . Diwali samajhkar , don't get together to burn crackers !! Sirf Diya jalana hai 5th April,9.00 pm#indiafightscorona — SirishaRao (@SirishaRao17) April 3, 2020
Repeat: Sunday is an INDOORS show of solidarity. It is NOT diwali. — Vir Das (@thevirdas) April 3, 2020
The 14-hour "Janata Curfew" that was imposed by Modi on 22 March saw many enthusiastic Indians take to the streets. Ironically, it was to support the BJP government's call to commemorate doctors. At 5 pm, many Indians who had so far remained indoors took to streets with pots and pans, drums and conches, and cheerfully celebrated the victories of doctors.
Perhaps, the most neglected aspect of Modi's new announcement on Friday was that the Prime Minister himself asked Indians to assemble in their respective balconies and doors and not venture out in the streets and put themselves and the lives of others in jeopardy.
"You don't have to go out on the streets and in the colonies, but do it from your doorsteps and balconies," Modi added.
Now one can only hope that Indians adhere to Modi's appeal to boost the collective morale of the country and maintain social distancing while they are at it.