Why you should not judge my kids when they are bursting crackers tonight

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The first thing we are told before Holi is, “Kindly don’t use colour, play with flowers.” We are also reminded how it’s so terrible to waste water just for “fun”! Comes Navaratri, and statistics are thrown at us projecting India as a country “with highest crime rate against women”. On Shivratri, we are suddenly shown the faces of poor, hungry kids who could be given the milk that gets “wasted” in the name of tradition. Ganesh Chaturthi becomes the day to talk about sea pollution. The idea of Raksha Bandhan becomes so misogynistic! Why do we need brothers to protect ourselves, we are told. And today, as we are celebrating Diwali, air/sound pollution has become the most important topic for discussion.

So, what does all this suggest? That if we want to protect our environment, stop wasting water, milk, etc, and above all save ourselves from the vicious bug of misogyny, we need to stop celebrating Hindu festivals. We have to stop being Hindu! Period! Ironically, the same courtesies are never extended to people of other faiths.

One is still willing to ignore it if the move is truly aimed at saving the planet. After all, we can stop being a Hindu for the larger good of the world. But is that the case? Dig the issue a bit and one realises that the environment is just a bahana (excuse); the real target is the Hindu faith itself.

Let’s logically see if by banning firecrackers (and here I am talking about green crackers) will we be able to solve the pollution problem? Will air and sound pollution be taken care of? A study conducted by Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT Delhi) a couple of years back revealed that the honking of vehicles is a bigger noise polluter than firecrackers. While the crackers emit short-term noise up to 90 decibels, honking vehicles can emit over 100 decibels of noise in many cases.

Have we done anything about stopping this honking menace? No, we haven’t. Maybe because we have not done anything, we look for an easy way out and Diwali firecrackers fit in the bill perfectly. So, don’t do anything for the whole year and instead ban firecrackers, and all’s taken care of!

Studies across the board have proved beyond doubt pollution, especially in urban areas, are primarily vehicular and construction work-related. Governments and courts have come out with several measures/decisions to curb the menace but somehow the pollution code is yet to be cracked. Of course, vote-bank politics will have its role to play too. And this explains why nothing has been done to stop the practice of stubble burning in states like Punjab and Haryana. Every year, most of north India is covered under the blanket of smog, thanks to stubble burning, and yet no one would do anything to stop it. And with the elections in Punjab due next year, and with the farmers being a powerful lobby, it’s bad politics too.

But why just blame the “poor” farmers of Punjab, when nothing has been done to relocate the polluting factories along the Ganges that pollute our holy river? The Ganga Action Plan started way back in 1986, and in over three decades of its existence, the river has only got dirtier, filthier. A parliamentary committee report revealed a few years ago that Rs 2.2 lakh crore had been spent on cleaning up the river. Our precious money has actually gone down the drain!

So, this explains why Diwali should not be celebrated the way it has been for centuries now. In the process, our festivals are losing their charms. Coming generations are not going to enjoy what we used to in our childhood.

So, tonight, knowing why we tend to villainise Diwali, I am not going to stop my children from celebrating the festival. I will not stop them from bursting crackers (of course, green ones). Please don’t judge them for their act of rebellion.

For their act of rebellion, on their behalf, I, as a conscientious citizen, would stop using my personal vehicle for the next few days, use my electrical gadgets more economically, and ensure my kids follow the same regimen. I will do all this and more. But I am not ready to cut on my Diwali celebrations just because we as a nation have failed to act against pollution.

A festival like Diwali not only adds zing to the monotonous life but also manifests the vibrant and dynamic culture of our country.

The writer is a mother of two angels, a full-time entrepreneur, and a wannabe novelist busy finishing her first book. The views expressed are personal.

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Why you should not judge my kids when they are bursting crackers tonight
Why you should not judge my kids when they are bursting crackers tonight
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