A recent judgement from the Supreme Court (SC) banned the sale of crackers in Delhi and a few of its surrounding area. A few people welcomed it and few criticised it. Some even went to the extent of saying it is against Hinduism and tried to add communal colour to it. Incredibly, many people compared the ban to the cracker ban ordered by Aurangzeb in Deepavali during his time.
The idea behind the ban is to reduce smoke pollution, though crackers may not be the largest contributor to the pollution in Delhi. There are many others reasons, such as construction work and the burning of crops in neighbouring states, which contribute to the high pollution in Delhi and effort should be made to reduce those activities on a war footing basis. However, the intent of the SC behind this ban must not be suspected. But is this feasible? This is just a ban on the sale of crackers but not on the use. There are many bordering states from where crackers can be purchased by the people and utilised. So this may not fulfil the actual goal of reducing the pollution.
Let’s look at the problem from a different angle. Is bursting of cracker posing any threat to the environment? The answer is – yes. If we look at the data shown by various agencies, it poses a great threat to the environment. But will it help if the sale is banned and that to be only in one city? It may not.
The current situation in Delhi may happen in other states and cities too, and banning crackers across the country will not be feasible. The reason is, it can’t be monitored by any agency in such a large scale. Banning will have its own side effects too. People will start bribing authorities, and illegal sales will start in many areas. Then the ‘why only on Deepavali’ debate will start and we will start finding out the negatives and demerits of all festivals of all the religions.
Is Deepavali meant only for bursting crackers? No, definitely not.It is believed that on this day, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, and people celebrated the day by lighting diyas throughout the entire city. Bursting crackers is just a part of it and not the only way to celebrate. It has increased over a period of time by many folds. I live in Bengaluru and can see the increase in sale and usage over the years.
We should celebrate Deepavali and burst crackers. It is a part of our rich culture and helps in spreading brotherhood and a mood of festivity in almost every part of the country. But at the same time, we have to ensure that we do not destroy the environment in the name of tradition, culture and rituals. We argue by saying that bursting crackers is part of our culture and tradition, and who is the SC to stop this? Are we not bursting crackers on other occasions? Why are we not stopping everything then? All these arguments are valid, but we need to understand, compared to the scale of cracker-bursting on Deepavali, the other occasions are negligible.
We must think of innovative ideas which will reduce the use of crackers. Something like heavy taxation on these products so that people buy lesser quantities might help. Limiting the quantity of manufacture and types of products is another method. Unless we do this, the use of crackers will increase and it will definitely have a bad effect on our environment. Soon, a time will come when breathing will be difficult.We must safeguard our environment for ourselves and the next generation. Otherwise, our next generation will definitely raise fingers and say “You spoiled nature in the name of rituals and traditions.”
The destruction of the environment is not only limited to Deepavali. Think about many other celebrations. During Dussehra and Ganesh Puja, loudspeakers blare from morning to night. Large-scale disturbance and noise pollution take place. Can’t we reduce this? The number of idols we immerse in water – don’t they cause pollution in the water bodies? We followed untouchability and Sati for years, but eventually banned them. Any rituals or traditions hurting any individual’s or group’s sentiments or affecting the environment should be stopped or limited.
These traditions or rituals were started long back by our earlier generations. We need to analyse if this is good for the current time or not. Recently an article stated that the cof the Ganga is affected by many rituals and traditions followed by the people living in the surrounding areas, and stopping them is very difficult. I have talked about a few rituals followed only by the Hindu religion, but this is applicable to all rituals followed by all religions and thinking about the environment is needed.
We need to have a conversation about different methods to curb pollution and have a cleaner Diwali. This week, share with us the ways you celebrate a safe and cracker free Diwali.