As Diwali, the festival of lights, is nearing, people in India are enjoying the festive season but this time with an eco-friendly approach.
Diwali or Deepawali, as it is popularly known in India, is indeed the biggest and the brightest festival celebrated in the country. It marks the homecoming of Lord Rama after 14 years of exile. To celebrate his arrival, every autumn, Deepavali, the festival of lights, is observed around the country with great fervour and gaiety.
But, with lights and crackers, comes air and noise pollution, which brings along other associated problems. As Diwali is fast approaching coming Sunday, state administrations, NGOs and individuals in the country are appealing to the people to celebrate this Diwali in an eco-friendly way.
While these celebrations may seem fun, their long-term consequences are not. Smoke from the crackers raise air pollution to dangerous levels, energy and food wastage increases noticeably, cracker debris litter the roads and several elderly people and animals suffer from anxiety attacks.
To deal with the problem, Guwahati Metropolitan District Administration in the Indian state of Assam has appealed to teachers in the state to inform students about the harmful effects of crackers. Along with this, pollution control board has fixed the upper level for noise from crackers at 125 decibels and will monitor the stocks for violation of norms, according to which, there is a complete ban on lighting, sound-emitting fire crackers between 10 pm and 6 am. Deputy Commissioner of the state, M Angamuthu, also appealed to the people to not burst crackers around hospitals.
Not only Assam, but people in other states have also started advocating a safer Diwali. Residents of a residential society in south-west Delhi have decided to celebrate the festival in a different way this time.
“We are not bursting crackers this year; just lights, colourful rangolis (floor art), flowers and may be one or two phuljharis (a little sparkle as a firework),” said Sangeeta Sirohi, an employee of a national bank. “Not only the environment, but pets and also the animals on the streets are afraid of crackers and they can’t tolerate the noise it makes,” added her son, Vansh Sirohi.
Intolerance towards pollution and Chinese products
While some plan to celebrate Diwali in an eco-friendly manner, others resort to boycott purchasing the Chinese-made crackers and lights. This is because of China’s support for Pakistan even after the barbaric atrocities being carried out by India’s western neighbours, and also because of the alleged hazardous nature of Chinese crackers.
Many shopkeepers are also supporting this decision and have decided to sell ‘made-in-India’ crackers and lights only. “He is selling Chinese lights, don’t buy from him. I have better, ‘made in India’ products,” joked a shopkeeper in south Delhi as people moved towards his neighbour to purchase lights.
After people decided to enjoy the festival ecologically, not only vendors and hawkers, but potters across the country also rejoiced. “The demand for mud and clay pots and diyas (mud candle stand) has increased this festive season. In the last 2-3 years, we didn’t have enough work and income,” said a street vendor who sells earthen clay pots for a side income in central Delhi.
With people becoming aware of their environment and collectively contributing to save it, this is surely going to be a happy Diwali.