The night of the Diwali is a fascinating sight. No, not because of the lights. The diyas as they are called become second class citizens compared to all the fire cracker display. And what a display it is, too. Smoke rising up from all corners of the city, so much so that all you see is white fog up in the air and all you smell is metal. Then there’s the deafening noise puncturing through the ears with each “bomb” going off. It’s the day when most of Indians give a giant screw-you to planet Earth and scream “Our fun is more important than your well-being!! LOL”
But let’s go back.
What exactly is Diwali? The actual Sanskrit name ‘Deepavali’ simply means a “series of lights”. Now everybody knows Diwali as the “festival of lights” but I doubt many from today’s generation know exactly why we do indeed celebrate it. I didn’t! And turns out it actually started out a post-monsoon harvest festival. I’m no authority on the subject so go ahead and read Devdutt Patnaik’s insightful article.
Like he says, Diwali is undoubtedly India’s answer to Christmas. It’s that joyous time when families come together, when people open their purses to buy and present new stuff. There’s food and merriment, it’s all very wonderful and comforting. My only problem is the crackers. Ask any kid what Diwali is and the answer in 100 percent of the cases will be, “Crackers!!” We’ve reduced a wonderful festival about new beginnings to a festival where we “blow things up”, because it’s fun. It’s the same as the case with the Christmas tree. Nobody knows the connection between the tree and Jesus Christ, but it has become a tradition anyway.
It’s a known fact that during the night of Diwali, we add a thousand times more pollution to our environment – both air and sound. Everybody thinks “Well I’m just firing my humble assortment of crackers! What harm could I cause?” or “There’s so much pollution already anyway, mine won’t make any difference.” Multiply that with a billion, and what you get is air filled with harmful gases. And then we wake up and complain about pollution and rising temperatures. The audacity, right?
So this Diwali, I urge all my Indian folks to do the right thing. Try to be considerate towards others, and our environment. You might not know this, but pets like dogs and cats get shit-scared with all the noise. Diwali is about lights, and metaphorically about lighting up your own life. It has no place for ruckus of any kind.
So the following are some of the simple things you can do to make a change this Diwali:
- Light up your house with natural lights than the electric ones.
- Cut down on the crackers. If you’ve got kids who demand crackers, enlighten them about pollution and the harm it can cause. Take them to do something more fun instead.
- With the money you save on crackers, you can get yourself or somebody a present. Surprise someone!
- Plan a home-cooked meal with your family or friends and include everybody in the cooking process.
- When somebody asks you if you’re buying crackers, gently tell them why you’re not doing it. Every small thing counts.
Here’s to a wonderful and pollution-free Diwali. And yes, buy the right type of crackers 🙂
Image courtesy: This