Diwali – A Festival of Light or Noise & Pollution?

festival
silent diwali

Diwali, a festival of lights which ushers in the annual spring cleaning in many households, ironically leaves in its wake pollution of every sort. Harsh noise, smoke-filled air and even the streets are left littered with burnt crackers! For all we know, firecrackers were never a part of Diwali before The Indian Explosives Act, 1940 which licensed the manufacture of firecrackers.

The name ‘Deepavali’ itself is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘a string of lights’; with no reference whatsoever to the firecrackers. Some believe that it began as a Chinese import from eons ago, and the flash of lights, noise, the  oddly pleasant smell of burnt crackers, the shrieks of delight as children and adults enjoyed the sparkle and dazzle of the crackers remained. But along with this also remained the inconsolable infants, petrified pets and the tormented elders. Apart from the noise, there’s been growing alarm about the long term ill effects of the fireworks on us and the environment too.  

So is there a solution that helps us enjoy our favourite festival and minimize the damage? A locality in Bombay used to maintain stringent guidelines for celebrating the festival; crackers were lit in all abundance and enthusiasm but only in a common concretised area in the centre of the locality and only between 7 PM and 9 PM. It was a community celebration with all the fanfare, but in moderation. Two villages in Salem district, Unathur and Agraharam Nattamangalam, have been celebrating cracker-less Diwali for more than a century, having abstained from the noisy crackers only for bats and migratory birds that visit their locality every winter. Two year ago, just after Hudhud swept the city, in response to the government appeal, Vizag too went cracker-less, as the threat for a major fire hazard was high. Diwali was then, blissfully quiet and beautiful- well lit with lanterns and lamps.

So where do we draw the line? Do we say a big ‘No’ to firecrackers, or should we simply ignore the negatives and indulge ourselves. Perhaps there is a middle path too.

Just as the eco-friendly Ganesha idols gained popularity across the city and nation this year, can we hope for a eco-friendly Diwali too? What steps can we take to ensure that this Diwali and subsequent Diwalis are eco-friendly and safe? Vizagites opine.

I am for silent Diwali. One of the major concerns is pollution, especially for a developing country like India. By avoiding sound we not only help control sound pollution, but also help fellow human beings, infants and animals too.

Shobha Kishore

For the desire of a better society we can call for a Silent Diwali!

I support a silent Diwali because I feel it causes too much noise and disturbs infants and old people and also animals. The chemicals released by lighting firecrackers is dangerous for us too.

By celebrating a silent Diwali we can also avoid noise pollution. The spirit of Diwali can be celebrated by lighting diyas and spending a peaceful time with friends and family.

Bhuvaneswari

Looking from the point of history the triumph of light over darkness signified good over evil, hope over despair but then this concept is gradually fading out in our contemporary society. Diwali, the happiest ancient Festival of Lights and celebrations is slowly turning out to be hazardous to us and to Mother Nature. The subsequent result of fireworks celebrations ups the atmospheric particulate matter levels(PM 2.5) about four times worsening the situation of our climate and its conditions and also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. And also very importantly, even people are affected by way of injuries and burns caused due to the crackers. Hence I strongly support Silent Diwali.

Ashish Danimireddi

Although the sentiment behind Diwali is beautiful, the celebrations should be altered keeping in mind the state of affairs of this day and age. When a population of over one billion people collectively burst crackers on one day, it effects not only the environment and our pets (to name a few) but also pushes lakhs of children into the dangerous market of making these fire crackers. This year, be the change. Have a silent Diwali and go green!

Asha Mangalagiri

I feel that life calls for excitement and celebrations and Diwali is the time many of us look forth to this. For my family, this festival symbolises cleanliness and every corner of the house is cleaned. Also unnecessary things are discarded. Goddess Lakhsmi is welcomed into the home. When it comes to whether the festival should be silent or not, I’m completely against noise pollution. That said, it wouldn’t be Diwali without lights and fireworks, and I think we shouldn’t do away with them completely. Small fireworks like sparklers in moderation, should be a part of the festival and this is specially true for children who would enjoy them a lot.

Dr. Dinesh Kumar

Diwali, the festival of light and hope, or should I call it a festival of noise and pollution? The tumult created, the pollution made, the child labour involved and the accidents that occur make me wonder whether are we celebrating Diwali in the right way? Definitely the answer is a big NO. Diwali in its true spirit has to be celebrated by lighting diyas and decorating houses with lights bringing out the feel of festive season, having a feast and distributing sweets!

Aditya Bansal

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