Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged people to build on the spirit of Navratra by empowering women, protecting their dignity and celebrating womanhood.
“In a country where goddesses are worshipped during Navratra, people should take that spirit forward by working towards empowerment of women and protecting their dignity. India prays to Ma Lakshmi on Diwali. Women are the incarnation of Lakshmi,” said the PM. “It’s our responsibility to respect every daughter in India. During ‘Mann Ki Baat’ also, I had mentioned that our daughters are ‘Lakshmi’ for us. This Diwali, let us celebrate the accomplishments of our daughters who have achieved something or have inspired others.”

The PM was addressing a huge gathering at a Ramlila organised by Dwarka Sri Ramlila Society at the DDA grounds in sector 10. Departing from the convention of visiting the traditional Ramlilas at Ramlila Maidan or Red Fort, he chose a relatively new Ramlila, organised by a former BJP MLA, Rajesh Gahlot. West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma said that the Samiti had been requesting the PM to visit this Ramlila for the past three years and it had finally happened.
The PM also asked people not to waste food, conserve energy and water and completely avoid single-use plastic as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in the 150th birth anniversary year. Congratulating people on Air Force Day, which coincided with Dussehra, Modi said the country is “phenomenally proud” of IAF.
A senior BJP functionary said the PM’s decision was a message that Delhi was not restricted to a certain area like the Walled City or Lutyens’ zone. “The city has expanded with lakhs of people migrating and settling here. Modi sees himself as one of them and preferred this year to celebrate the festival in the area which is an amalgamation of rural Delhi, unauthorised colonies and one of the most well-planned residential pockets of the capital,” said the functionary.
Another party leader said this also seemed to be an attempt by Modi to disassociate himself from celebrations which have been traditionally linked to Congress leaders.
Long before Modi arrived at the venue, all roads leading to the DDA grounds were bustling with people headed for the event. As time passed, the queues at the entry gates got longer. Meanwhile, one after the other, performers took to the stage as Gahlot narrated the end of Ravan.