Diwali 2018 celebrated in India: Narendra Modi visits troops as country shines in festival of lights

India was celebrating one of the biggest festivals of the year on Wednesday, as well as the colourful standstill for the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali.

People shared images on social media or houses lit up with fairy lights, public installations and candles laid out to mark the occasion.

Most Indians spend the day with family, exchanging gifts and sharing lavish feasts, but the real festivities will kick off with elaborate firework displays in the evening.

The prime minister, Narendra Modi, traveled to the Himalayan town of Kedarnath, where he offered prayers for Diwali at a Hindu temple, before tweeting: "Happy Diwali! May this festival bring happiness, good health and prosperity in everyone's lives. May the power of good and brightness always prevail. "

Mr Modi also used to inspect a military post on the India-China border. According to a statement from his office, the Diwali lights dispelling darkness and fear. "Through their commitment and discipline, they are also helping to spread the sense of security and fearlessness among the people," the statement read.

Mr. Modi's office posted images on his official social media channel of the prime minister, wearing a puffer jacket and "PM" -adorned baseball cap, feeding soldiers Diwali treats by hand.

It is the sort of display most Indians have gotten used to from their prime minister, who is gearing up for a crucial and election in spring next year.

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Mr. Netanyahu posted a tweet in Hindi wishing his "dear friend" Mr. Modi a "joyous" Diwali, to whom the Indian prime minister replied in Hebrew and that he would share photos with Mr. Netanyahu from his trip to visit the troops. He concluded the message: ":)"

The tradition of fireworks for Diwali means that for those in India's metropolises, the festival comes with an unwanted spike in air pollution.

Combined with seasonal smog from crop-burning and industry, the issue is always bad in the capital Delhi, and this year is strictly enforced.

Fireworks in the capital region will be limited to Thursday morning, and the Supreme Court will have that decibel levels.

But there are concerns about how enforceable this will be in a city or more than 20 million people. The police say they have seized about 3.8 tonnes of illegal firecrackers in the last two weeks.

Delhi police spokesperson Madhur Verma said plainclothes officers would be deployed in the city to keep an eye out for illegal activities. "We are fully prepared. We have formed various teams which will be deployed on Diwali to monitor the situation, "he told the IANS news agency.

Delhi's environment minister Imran Hussain urged citizens to consider skipping fireworks altogether, asking them to make a "positive contribution" and enjoy "a green and clean Diwali". Some shopping malls in the city have swapped light displays for elaborate plant-based constructions.

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Despite these efforts, Delhi's air quality deteriorated to the worst level of the season so far on Monday and forecasters expect it to continue to worsen after Wednesday's night's festivities.