This Deepavali saw an increase in no-cracker celebration, or at least in the noise about it. And it split people into two groups. One that advocated no-cracker diwali for various reasons, and other that believed in with-cracker diwali to be the real way to celebrate the festival. All this led to some minor skirmishes on the social media, some debates on the t.v and otherwise, some love lost between friends and some introspections in the end.
So what are the various views in this debate? The pro cracker group believes that it is an integral part of the diwali festivity. The beauty of a ‘fuljhari’, the illumination of a pot, the trail of a ‘rocket’, the pattern of a ‘chakri’, the blast of a bomb, are all visual and auditory delights and it is only that time of the year when one can indulge in using these. Traditionally crackers have been burst and with newer and more visually appealing crackers being produced each year, it is not appropriate not to indulge in this activity. For them the sound pollution, the air pollution that crackers cause is a part of the festivity. May be they would argue that the industrial pollution could be reduced rather than reducing crackers in diwali.
The no-cracker group, and mind you they were always existent, has on the exterior of it (with no accurate statistical data corroborating it) increased over the years. This probably has to do with the incresing awareness regarding the environment. crackers cause a lot of smoke and hazardous ones at that along with sound pollution. This can be harmful to the environment, as every diwali causes an extreme strain on the air quality. Equally affected are children and older people, not to mention the ill, who find the sound very disturbing. No-cracker group also takes into account the child labour that cracker factories employ as an unethical practice. Thus indulging in no-cracker diwali is their bit to the society, the community and the world at large.
The arguements might all sound genuine at their own place but the larger questions that arise out of the debate are, is it worth ‘burning’ thousands of rupees of crackers or using that money, say, to feed the hungry? is it prudent to deprive oneself of the enjoyment, the pleasure that cracker bursting provides? does one persons not bursting cracker help the environment? should not using crackers act as a deterrent to the lack of regulations and precarious conditions in cracker factories?
India does not produce environment friendly crackers as in western countries, which could perhaps answer some questions of this debate. That technology would however raise the cost, at no point be totally ’green’, and make it unaffordable for the poor anyway. Thus pro crackers group in the name of tradition and for the sheer joy that it provides continue bursting and have their enjoyment and be content. The anti cracker group can raise awareness, motivate people to come to their side try to bring in pro environment technology, and do their bit and be content.
The article appeared on manipalblog.com on 14th Nov, 2012.