Deepavali... and the light went out in Jaffna
It was ‘Deepavali’ eve in Jaffna last Monday and the town was set to mark the event on a grand scale. The streets were bustling with pavement hawkers and shops doing brisk business.

Scenes of overcrowded buses and busy streets late in the evening were an indication that the residents were preparing for the Festival of Lights, marked by Hindu devotees with religious observances, visits to the temple and relatives.

The night skies were lit up by fireworks and the calm was disturbed by the burst of fire crackers in the town and environs that are usually more accustomed to gun fire or grenade explosions.

But, a single incident in Jaffna town where a Police constable was killed in a grenade attack changed the festive mood. Overnight, the streets were empty.
On Deepavali morning, the otherwise crowded Nallur Kovil had few devotees visiting the temple. The previous night’s preparations for the festival seemed to have been overshadowed by the incident.

‘Keep away from walking close to the army sentry point,’ was the warning of an elderly devotee, S. Vedhariam, 69, heading to the temple. For Jaffna residents who have experienced more drastic changes than what took place on Monday night, it was just another indication of how they have to adapt to the day to day happenings.

Our photographer Ishara S. Kodikara captured these pictures on the eve of ‘Deepavali’ and on the day of the festival.

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