I like my Diwali crackers. Okay. That’s an understatement. I love my Diwali crackers. Through the year, I look forth to the eve of Diwali when I’ll head to the shop and buy my anars, chakkarginnis and phuljhadis. So what if I’m 39, I’ve been this way since I was 6 years old. But today, when the green revolutionists show off that they’re not buying crackers and celebrating a green diwali, I feel a range of emotions. Guilty, that I’m not selfless like them, irritated that they’re hypocrites and angry that they who keep their ACs at full blast even during winters talk of going pollution free. But being the shy introvert that I am, I don’t say any of this. I simply smile, say ‘wow’ and pat on their back. And then I vent it all out on this page.
For those against crackers. While I don’t advocate lighting crackers after 10pm, I think all Hindus deserve a couple of hours of play with their favourite fire crackers. When you have blocked out the noise of the honking horns in everyday traffic, when you’ve blocked out the loudspeakers which blare out sermons or filmi songs at obscene hours, when the music at the pubs and discos doesn’t feel loud, this is your religion and you must embrace it. If you can’t, then close your windows, close your ears, and stay indoors.
For the anti pollution advocates: Do you know how much we collectively pollute our environment with smoke from vehicles and air conditioners? Instead of banishing a festival, why not reduce the usage of vehicles and plant more trees instead?
Talking of toxicity: True, the norms for regulating toxicity in firecrackers need to be revisited. We tend to go overboard in showing off how much louder and better our firecrackers are than the neighbours. Banning the production of those that cause such toxicity could be a good solution. Reducing variety is another option. Lessen the number of days when crackers are sold, regulate the producers, set a time for crackers maybe.
For those who went on to tell me that lighting diyas was using up oxygen: We have a historical significance for celebrating it. We light diyas with til oil because, the oil adds to positive vibrations in the environment. Fire means warmth, diyas mean light.
Diwali comes once a year. And I love it. Not just for its beautiful lights and nip in the air. Not just for the families it brings together. I love it with its lights and sound. For all those who say that instead of firecrackers, donate to the needy, I say do both! For those who scream pollution, I say turn off your air condition, for those of us, who make it a point to celebrate valentine’s day, Halloween’s day, father’s day, mother’s day and all those other fests from the West, with no cultural history whatsoever, please light your diyas..and spare us your sermons.