The Festival of Light, celebrated every 14th of November in India, takes a different route this year. Diwali (aka. Deepavali) which symbolizes the triumph of light over dark, good over evil, and as legend dictates; Lord Rama defeating the demon King Ravana. The epicentre of the festival is in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh Province), as it is said to be the Hindu deity’s Kingdom.
The event is spread across five holy days. Fireworks are lit and Indians of all castes set up diyas (small oil lamps) across temples, streets and riverbanks, thus igniting a fiery path on their wake. This 2020, the state government of Uttar Pradesh designed a web portal to make it easier for people to light their candles from afar, without needing to breach social distancing and overall Covid-19 measures.
More than 10,000 volunteers are working at the request of everyone using the web portal, and users have the option to choose their preferred setup: Earthen, copper, or brass diyas, and their favoured oil to go with it: Mustard, ghee, or sesame oil. The website is user-friendly in explaining the options available, and when they are chosen, a portrait of Lord Rama redirects them to the temples and riverbanks, where they can virtually light up their candles and spectate the live show from the comfort of their homes. Finally, there is a possibility for followers to take a virtual selfie with the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, who personally oversees the festival preparations.
As a matter of fact, the web portal was a complete success. During the first night, Ayodhya broke a Guinness World Record by lighting 58,4572 diyas on the shores of the River Saryu. In a recent statement, Yogi Adityanath dedicated the award to his people, and reflected upon the current 2020 situation: “In spite of the global epidemic, I welcome all the devotees of Lord Rama who are present here and who have joined this program in a virtual way, on this occasion. This festival has come at a time when the whole world is struggling with Corona.”