LUCKNOW, India — The north Indian city of Ayodhya kept its Guinness World Record for a second year by lighting 606,569 oil lamps and keeping them burning for at least 45 minutes as part of the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Thousands of volunteers lit the lamps, called diyas, along the Saryu River’s banks, through lanes and at houses as dusk fell Nov. 13 in Ayodhya, where Hindus believe the god Ram was born and where he returned after 14 years in exile.

The city lit 409,000 oil lamps last year.

Uttar Pradesh state government spokesman Shishir Kumar said the lamps were a stunning spectacle for thousands of visitors who thronged the river banks while ignoring coronavirus social distancing norms.

Representatives from Guinness World Records handed over a certificate to Yogi Adityanath, the state’s top elected official, after monitoring the ceremony with drone-mounted cameras, Kumar said.

This year’s festival of lights comes after India’s top court allowed the construction of a temple to Ram in Ayodhya, ending a long legal battle between Hindus and Muslims over ownership of the land.

Hindus believe that a temple existed on the spot that was demolished by Mughals in the 15th century who built a mosque there. Hindu radicals demolished the mosque in 1992 during the legal battle.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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