Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged citizens to observe restraint during the festival season to contain the spread of the coronavirus. He added that it would result in the victory against the pandemic.

“There is Eid, Sharad Poornima, Valmiki Jayanti, followed by Dhanteras, Diwali, Bhai dooj, the Pooja of Chatthi Maiyya and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji... during this crisis-laden period of corona, we have to exercise patience, observe restraint,” he said at his monthly “Mann Ki Baat” radio programme.

The prime minister praised the frontline workers and other members of the society without whom “our lives would be miserable”. He said that we now know the importance of sanitation workers, domestic helps, local vegetable vendors, milkmen, security guards, among others, and said that we should make them part of our celebrations during this festival season. He wished everyone for the festival season and cautioned people to use masks, sanitisers and maintain physical distance.

Modi also urged citizens to light a diya (earthen lamp) for the soldiers who were away at the border. “I also salute the sacrifice of those families, whose sons and daughters are on the border today,” he added. “I express gratitude to each and every person who is away from home and family on account of discharging duty to the country in one way or the other.”

The prime minister called for promoting indigenous products, saying that the local items have the potential of becoming global. He said like yoga and Ayurveda has attracted many people around the world, our products too have caught their curiosity.

Modi said that Mallakhambh, a traditional sport, has been gaining popularity. “A large number of American youths are joining and learning Mallakhambh,” he said. “Be it Germany, Poland or Malaysia – Mallakhambh is becoming popular in around 20 other countries. And now, its World Championship has also been started which sees participants from many countries.”

Modi further said that India’s first Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel had a sense of humour, which made Mahatama Gandhi laugh so much that he would get cramps in the stomach. The prime minister urged people to keep alive their sense of humour irrespective of how difficult the situations are.

The prime minister also spoke about pencil slats and timber casing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district. “Once upon a time we used to import wood for pencils from abroad, but, now our Pulwama is making the country self-sufficient in the field of pencil making,” he said “In fact, these pencil slats of Pulwama are reducing the gaps between states.”

Modi paid his obeisance to Maharishi Valmiki whose birth anniversary is celebrated on October 31. “Maharishi Valmiki’s lofty ideals continue to inspire millions of people and provide them strength,” he said. “He is a beacon of great hope for millions of the impoverished and Dalits… instills hope and trust within them.” He also paid tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who died on October 31, 1984.

The prime minister addresses the country every month through his “Mann ki Baat” programme, usually on the last Sunday.