Deepawali, which is also known as the festival of lights, is traditionally celebrated by burning fire crackers and lighting lamps. While Deepawali is celebrated for different reasons at different regions in India, the ultimate message of the festival is victory of good over evil. During ancient time, when there was no electricity and almost no pollution, the way the festival celebrated was logical and ethical. But today, while there are concerns about all kinds of pollution and global warming, it is time to see if this is the right way to celebrate Deepawali.
Researches conducted in the recent past reveal that the pollution level in air is higher during Deepawali. Also, firecrackers used in ancient times were made up of natural resources, whereas chemicals are used extensively in todays firecrackers. Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Magnesium, Nitrate, Nitrite, Sodium, Zinc etc., are some of the chemicals used in crackers that are burnt today. These chemicals lead to serious skin problems, respiratory issues to nervous disorders.
Deepawali celebration has also been commercialised. Few people burn more fireworks to outdo their neighbours or relatives to show off their material strength without realising that they are causing more harm to the eco system. Even lighting lamps has been drastically reduced and people have switched to electric serial bulbs to save their time and energy rather than saving the time and energy of the planet. Lighting lamps along with family and friends are always fun. Decorating the lamps on Kolam/Rangolis and along the pathway and compound walls makes the entire process of lighting lamps interesting and enjoyable, which is not so when the entire house is adorned by electric bulbs by pressing a single switch. Apart from pollution, the level of garbage during Deepawali is increased. Let us also not forget about the accidents and mishaps while making and burning fire crackers.
It does not mean that Deepawali celebrations should be stopped completely. Festivals are meant for celebration and happiness. But it should not be a trap door for a hazardous future. While there are many awareness programs about going green, there is not much criticism about the way Deepawali is celebrated by certain privileged folks. By Criticism I do not mean that there is something wrong with the festival, but the way it is being celebrated. We also cannot deny that there are large number of people who cannot even dream of celebrating in a very simpler manner. But the suffering and the effects are shared by everyone.
While most of us take many steps in going green, we forget about it during celebrations. Celebrations might last only for a day, but the effect it leaves might trail us silently for longer. It may not be possible to completely change the way we celebrate, but it can be reduced. People could join as a group and celebrate and also can organise fireworks where everyone can watch and enjoy. By this way, the very spirit of the festival does not go down, but the amount of fire crackers used can be reduced. Using electric bulbs to adorn houses can be stopped and we can go back to the traditional way of lighting lamps.
Festivals are to celebrate and enjoy. So, while planning for next celebration, let us plan carefully and sensibly without getting over zealous. Let us also educate our kids and others about the harms that might affect everybody if proper care is not taken while celebrating. It is also necessary to have a much meaningful celebration on a day that signifies the victory of good over evil.
Wish you all a Happy Deepawali! Well, belated!