As the clock struck 8.30 on Saturday evening, students and activists, corporate professionals and housewives in India joined those in 84 other countries and switched over to candlelight dinners - marking the Earth Hour and showing their concern for climate change.
“My entire family sat in one room for a change. Normally, we are all in different rooms. So, lights are invariably on everywhere. I insisted that we all sit together. So, we switched off the lights and sat in a room and watched TV,” said Rakesh Sardana, an executive with a multinational company in Chennai.
Sardana said he knocked on the doors of all his neighbours to request them to switch off the lights between 8.00 p.m. and 8.10 p.m.
Umakant Sharma, a 55-year-old east Delhi resident, also did all he could to convince others to observe the Earth Hour.
“The kind of changes we are witnessing due to global warming are alarming. If we will not wake up now, when will we? I want our coming generation to breathe natural air and enjoy seasons as they are,” Sharma told IANS.
He not only switched off unnecessary lights at his house but also asked his relatives, friends and neighbours to do the same.
Many, like IT professional Rajiv Dutt, actively campaigned using the internet. Dutt created a special community on the social networking site Facebook and got all his friends and colleagues to join it.
Besides college and school students and professionals, a large number of Indian corporates also pledged their support to the campaign.
Banks like ICICI, HDFC and HSBC, as also IT giants Wipro and HP said they supported the Earth Hour. All ITC hotels also switched off their lights for candlelight dinners during the 60 minutes, while PVR cinemas screened short films on climate change Saturday evening.
The Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also asked people to support the campaign.
"Please Vote for Earth. Switch off the lights for an hour at 8.30 p.m. today," was the message sent by Delhi BJP general secretary R.P. Singh to party workers.
"We fully support this campaign because if we will not save our resources now, nothing will be left for our children. We have sent nearly 20,000 messages of this kind and asked all party workers to do the same," Singh told IANS.
Some, however, said that they were not aware of the campaign.
"I had no idea about the campaign. The organisers should have advertised it better so that as many people from across the country could take part in it," said Animikha Borah of Guwahati.
Ravi Singh of the WWF-India that is leading the initiative said they had done a lot to publicise the campaign.
"We have been doing all that we can to advertise the campaign and now people have been doing that themselves. There are SMS campaigns, blogs and communities created on social networking sites," Singh pointed out.
But there were some who felt that the Earth Hour was a gimmick.
"I don't see the point. One hour...then what?" said Tanu Sharma, a media professional. "People will return to their wasting ways any way."