By Ashima Gujral:
Normally for kids, what does a typical Indian Diwali mean? Loads of relatives coming in with sweets, keeping the house neat and tidy all the time, getting new clothes, lighting up the house, best of traditional food being served etc.
To a kid, Diwali only means one thing. CRACKERS. Usually for kids, Diwali begins with the excitement of buying the latest crackers and wraps up when their stock runs out. But thanks to the awareness about the health as well as the environmental hazards of bursting crackers, slowly but steadily, this industry is declining. And celebrating an eco-friendly Diwali has now become a trend.
It is no more advisable and fashionable to spend thousands of rupees on crackers that only cause pain to your ears considering the noise emanated by the same and make it difficult to breathe considering the amount of pollution they cause outside and at times, even inside your homes. Instead, families are now going back the traditional way- lighting diyas and candles instead of consuming a humongous amount of electricity, decorating houses with rangoli and recycled material instead of plastic accessories etc.
Better still; people go for eco-friendly crackers which produce paper flutters and coloured lights on bursting and not the painful sound. Another humanitarian step is giving waste clothes, toys which are discarded during the cleaning process to the under-privileged instead of disposing them.
But does all of this mar the original charm of the festival? We live in a country where the sudden excessive bursting of crackers reminds us that Diwali is around the corner, where the darkness of the new moon night is shunned away by the brightness of the artificial lights of these very crackers. Is it then possible for such a country to do away with this rather unchangeable trend?
I am personally a strong supporter of a cracker-free Diwali, not just because I am grown up and aware about its dire consequences but also because I happen to have spent an entire childhood indoors on Diwali because the pollution outside never suited me and hence blamed those crackers for spoiling my Diwali every year till I figured out ways to enjoy myself indoors. And now when I see more people turning to my idea of a perfect pollution-free Diwali, I just feel elated that I grew up on that sooner than they did.
Thus now when my idea of a cracker-free Diwali does not sound alien and more and more people are joining the league owing to the high environmental fluctuations we are facing. With the consciousness that we need to act on it now or it may be too late, it is just going to get better, I hope, for the earth and for those destitute children who slog and risk their lives in factories, making these crackers for us.
So here is wishing you a very happy, safe and hopefully a cracker-free Diwali!