A Sparkling Diwali Sans Sparklers

Its Diwali season! Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. And as long back as I can remember, whether it was in my grandparents house in India or in California, Diwali time always meant shopping, good food and lots of fireworks! Although I was never really sure what it signified (I was never told); there are so many varying myths and legends associated with the festival.

Sadly, Diwali has just taken on a completely different meaning nowadays. Rather, it has become sort of meaningless. Today, Diwali isn’t even about the lights and glowing diyas anymore. Its just people bursting loud and disrupting firecrackers, bombs and rockets and in general creating a lot of pollution and disturbance because its supposed to be ‘fun’.

Reasons Why You Should Not Burst Crackers this Diwali:

  1. Air pollution: Sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides in the air mix with water and you get acid rain. If you have ever seen the air just after Diwali, its like a gas chamber. It takes a really long time for these gases to go away.
  2. Noise pollution: Sometimes it gets so loud, your ears are literally become numb. It may lead to hearing deficiencies and probably deafness.
  3. Adverse health defects: These harmful acidic chemicals can lead to health defects such as respiratory problems. Kids, elderly people and pregnant women are affected the most.
  4. The garbage: It’s not like the streets of India are the cleanest places ever, but after Diwali it looks like a tornado hit the city. And who cleans up all that trash?
  5. Animals: On Diwali night, you won’t see a single bird in the sky. Dogs are really sensitive to the noise and get scared away as well. If not for the environment, at least think about the helpless animals.
  6. It contributes to global warming: Maybe not at a large scale, but all the greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere at once will affect the ozone layer!
  7. Worst of all: Small kids (as young as four) are making these firecrackers under hazardous conditions at minimum wages at a place called Sivakasi in Southern India in order to meet the demand for them during Diwali season. Many of these kids are held in bonded labor and don’t attend school. These children suffer from respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, malnutrition, bone injuries and a host of other maladies.

It was not until years later, when I discovered spirituality, that I came to understand that Diwali actually signifies the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, but most importantly it represents the triumph of light over darkness. If fact, it is said be celebrated on the darkest night of the darkest time period. I like to think the ‘light’ here is really the light in the innermost core of our hearts. The divine spark within all of us that shines even during the darkest of times. If you think about it, (minus all the rituals and religious dogmas associated with it) it is a really awesome and beautiful festival to be celebrated.

I feel like people are completely forgetting the real meaning of Diwali  and are instead heading into a continuous downward spiral of destruction without any real values. There is no sense of responsibility or accountability for nature, our environment or even humanity any more. Just baseless religious dogma. Having to say this is pretty awful and just sad, especially as a young person.  😦

I haven’t taken part in any of it in the past four years that I was in India. I always sat inside or on the driveway, watching my family and friends bursting firecrackers, yet refusing to participate. Of course, I never told anyone off or openly voiced my opinions about it because let’s face it: nobody wants to be the party-pooper or rain on everyone’s parade (or in this case their sparklers and chakras and hydrogen bombs and 1000 walas and bijili rockets). But lately, I have realized that standing on the sidelines watching, isn’t really good enough. It is NOT the best I can do. So I want to spread the word around and let everyone know.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”-Albert Einstein

Advertisements