Last Saturday eve, almost every nook and cranny of the capital, if not the country, saw sky-high bonfires. The occasion was a happy one – Lohri, the harvest festival. It was beautiful at first. Even I couldn’t resist watching it for a few minutes from my balcony.
Then it hit me – literally. My eyes started dripping and a sharp cough forced me to go inside. The culprit – smoke.
Maximum Temperature: 24 degrees celsius
Air Quality: very poor
Last October, the government and the Supreme Court (SC) took the praiseworthy decision of banning crackers as Diwali approached. Many welcomed the decision, while others criticized it heavily. In the latter camp, there were mainly people related to the cracker industry and those who loved to burn them. But overall, in my opinion, most people accepted the decision with an open mind.
But this time around, both the government and the SC seemed to have taken a vow of silence. It can be due to the fact that this topic did not get as much media attention as it should have. After all, it’s a rather noiseless procession, both literally and metaphorically. Nevertheless, it contributed to the overall bad air quality.
In 2016, social media saw the #MyRightToBreathe trending. Many people, related to various vigil groups working on the issue of the cleanliness of the air, came forward. Similar messages were also forwarded on WhatsApp.
There were general appeals on news websites and other media about having a ‘green Lohri’. Amazingly, to the best of my knowledge, many ‘aware’ Twitterati remained silent on the topic, thereby showing people’s obliviousness to this issue.
Consequently, the cumulative effect of the discussions about a ‘green Lohri’ was minimal. Instead, people were seen enjoying the ‘bonfires of vanity’ heartily.
But, I say, it’s now time to take more steps. Yes, I know it’s a tradition – but I think that it’s now time to re-evaluate our traditions in the light of the dawning of a new age, and with it, its problems. Clean air has now become more of a privilege. I am not against festive sentiments – however, I am against the pollution that is caused by it.
I am sad this epiphany didn’t occur to me, prior to the proceedings. Otherwise, my article could have had an effect. But better late then never! This youth appeals to everyone to stop lighting bonfires during Lohri. Let the coming generation be healthy enough to actually celebrate life, if not Lohri.