I received a mail from Girigaru, member of a social service group, which prompted this post.
Girigaru was kind enough to permit me to use his mail here
"1. Do we know why do we fire crackers on Diwali? If we really have to fire crackers, what kind and why those kind? Or do we just have to light lamps (deepams)? Have the crackers become replacement for deepams?
2. Why is Diwali celebrated next day after Naraka Chaturdhashi?
3. What is the association of Goddess Lakshmi on the day? It looks we are rather making her scared with a Bomb named after her in our homes (Lakshmi Bomb)! There is a saying that with all the lights and deepams we welcome Goddess Lakshmi comes to our homes during Diwali (Deepavali). If so why do we need to make so much noises and fires with less light. I am sure Deepams are lit with more light and for long time than any other crackers we fire. Don't you all agree? But why do we still fall behind the crackers, which not only do lot of pollution (environment and sound).
4. Last but not the least, are we not encouraging the child labor (children still getting paid Rs. 40 a day) at Siva Kasi, major fire works manufacturer, which is still also a most fire accident prone place and the children suffer with all kind of skin and lung diseases after breathing in chemicals which were used for making those crackers (phohsporus, sulphur and what not).
Without know answers to all those, is it really making sense to do things what we are still doing during these festivals? I am not saying we should not to what we are doing, but I think we should find the answers to all these questions and make sure we do not harm ourselves, others and environment. There must be a reasons for all these, I am sure none of these reasons say that we should harm ourselves. There is a limit and we should realize this. Why can't we all just fire crackers together, may be just one big set of them for entire colony or town, may be just the way USA celebrates its Independence day. I am sure we can make much better fireworks that way than these small ones individually. This also brings on discipline and oneness among people as Anil said, and reduce the pollution and noise. Why can't we just stick to deepams (small lights lit with cotton in oil) and I think this is exactly what Deepavali means.
Just my two additions here.
This mail set me thinking:
How much do we know about fire crackers,except that in younger days, used to look forward with so much excitement, brag about the purchase, dry them in the sun, keep all the stuff ready, get set for the day and blassssst. Again brag about the blasting for next several days.
Later when we started questioning the very concept , we gradually got out of that,and only lighted a few flower pots.
Will Diwali be a festival if we have silent fire crackers or environmentally friendly ones? Will we appreciate such celebration, comparing ourselves with the neighbors who are crating such ruckus throughout the day and night? Is there any way to celebrate without causing pollution?
If you are living in a neighborhood where Tamils, Telugus, Marwaris and other north Indians are co-existing, the noise levels start reaching the sky from morning 5 a.m. and goes on through the day. by night 10 p.m., you might think it is over , but no.. we see someone in the colony showing off at 11.30 p.m. on, In the next colony another one wants to celebrate only at 00.30 a.m. of the next day! so we are sleepless till 1.30 a.m. All in the name of Diwali where we are forced to shut of our door and console our pet,with each burst,feel sad for the screeching birds. No one cares, it is Diwali see.
I was confused , and wanted to get the opinion of a cross section of people I know, and here is what I found.
There are people who confess, that once they became aware of the noise pollution and environment decay,they celebrated Diwali with lights and have stopped bursting big crackers, resulting in peace of mind.
And there are some who feel that the world is changing and our efforts to maintain the eco system and reduce global warming is abysmal. Therefore one should not add to the already existing problems by bursting crackers and wasting precious money . Instead people should share with the haven't and spread the joy of the festival.
There are some people, who have lived for two scores and ten, who scoff at the idea of bursting , and wastage . The comparisons are between what was the cracker industry then, wherein only small chakras and other stuff was sold, with a few bombs which were made of palm leaves. The chemicals used too were not so hazardous. Now a days one doesn't even know how many kinds of metallic stuff is released in to atmosphere, and how much of it is inhaled by those poor children who are into the job day in and out.
Why do we burst crackers? To celebrate the triumph of good over evil it seems. But when we are bursting those bombs with so much of poisonous toxins into the air, is any good coming out of such an act? It is only causing harm and pain to others.
The cost of firecrackers , almost 250 crores they say, and the cost of lives of of those children who make them.. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.299717560057122.89179.199447453417467&type=3..
There is a campaign http://www.bba.org.in/campaigns/afcc.php, have a look at "Some Heart-Rending facts" to understand the plight.
"Just a couple of days before Diwali, organise a public gathering of like-minded persons to demonstrate symbolic boycott of crackers by immersing them in water. Celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps, not by blasting childhood."
Some people also cared about the unpleasant feelings it causes to old people, pets,and patients,. The question that if it is Diwali, is it necessary to make the loudest noise and show the world we are great, is lurking in their minds.
Many people I talked to agreed , that traditions need to be accepted. But tradition is followed only on convenience. Why not stop this tradition , and light the diyas to feel good?
Why are the bombs that are sold are not levied with max. tax, to keep it beyond the reach of common man?. The units manufacturing those noise bombs and toxic crackers need to pay more tax, and the people need to pay more to buy them. This will prevent massive misuse?
Now festival season starts from Ganesha Chaturthi. The business community goes all out to promote and offer products to sell . The revelers want to maximize their share , by showing off the height of the idols to the time it takes to block the roads , noise pollute and choke the lakes and sea. the eco pollution and time waste is not considered at all, since it is tradition!. Then it is Diwali again , a tradition to fire and blast. Many are in dread of this season!
In a country where the people below poverty line are struggling for one meal a day, is it tradition to make them starve,and, the rest show off? Are there no better ways to celebrate?
What can be role of the Government in this case?
The government can examine , whether the crackers have toxins that are not good for environment?.
Why , the bombs that are sold , can not be levied with max. tax, to keep it beyond the reach of common man?. The units manufacturing those noise bombs and toxic crackers need to pay more tax, and the people need to pay more to buy them. This might prevent massive misuse?
Can people be not made to understand by publicity that , the tradition of firing loud crackers and polluting the atmosphere need to be changed, and people need to share the joy of festival with those who can not afford celebrate?
And we, the people can begin with our own homes!
Meanwhile some answers will be welcome for Girigaru's questions.
All images courtesy Google.