Diwali — The most joyous way of destroying our planet

I’m writing this article while hearing at least three firecrackers burst every second, this ordeal starts around 6:30pm and continues till midnight before it starts fading. Today is Lakshmi Poojan — the most important day in the five-day Diwali festival. It is a day we worship Lakshmi — the goddess of wealth and prosperity. And it is also the day on which firecrackers are burst the most.

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Unsplash

Festival of Lights or Firecrackers?

Although no ancient texts specify bursting of firecrackers as a way of celebrating Diwali (firecrackers were invented in China in the ninth century), they have become an integral part of the festival over the years.

Diwali/Dipawali was historically celebrated as the festival of lights. ‘Deepawali’ literally translates to a row of lights. People celebrated the festival by lighting diyas (oil/ghee lamps), exchanging sweets, and performing the rituals on their specific days.

It is unfortunate that Diwali celebrations took a deviation that causes massive harm to our planet now.

Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

Mere baap ka kya jata hai?

A literal translation of the sentence won’t make sense to non-Indians, but it basically means that they don’t care about it because they aren’t affected.
As a person who cares about sustainability of human life, I am against bursting firecrackers on Diwali (or any other day for that matter). It is dismaying to hear people say, “I don’t really care. I’ll be dead before the ‘bad stuff’ starts happening” or “Diwali only comes once a year”.
The high levels of cynicism does affect my hope for humanity. Sadly, I am stumped when I argue with people with this comeback. It makes me desperately think about something that’ll make them realise how they’re inadvertently hurting the planet and themselves.

Here’s an article by The Indian Express pointing out how Delhi’s pollution levels are as harmful as smoking 15–20 cigarettes a day.
[‘Pollution in Delhi akin to smoking 15–20 cigarettes a day’ | The Indian Express](https://indianexpress.com/article/india/delhi-pollution-smoking-15-20-cigarettes-a-day-5432838/)

Here’s one from Business Insider that says we can’t possibly plant enough trees to reverse the effects of climate change
[The Earth has so much CO2 that planting trees can’t save us — Business Insider](https://www.businessinsider.com/so-much-co2-planting-trees-cant-save-us-2017-5?IR=T)

Bursting crackers and using cars isn’t the same thing.

A lot of people justify their bursting of firecrackers by pointing out how cars too cause pollution and if I really care so much about the environment I should stop using motor vehicles altogether.

Bursting a cracker doesn’t enable anything. Cars have a purpose to serve, they take people/things from one place to another. Also, we’re slowly moving towards greener transportation methods with the rise of Tesla Motors and major manufactures following the suit. [General Motors Announces an All-Electric Future | WIRED](https://www.wired.com/story/general-motors-electric-cars-plan-gm/)

No, it is NOT a personal choice

If bursting crackers is merely a personal choice, then so are slashing people’s tires or throwing garbage on the road. The pollution and paper waste created from the firecrackers isn’t limited to the person or family bursting them, it spreads in the atmosphere and hurts the environment in a very real way.

There are other ways to celebrate

The festival was never about firecrackers until the twentieth century. The ~100 year-old ‘tradition’ of using firecrackers doesn’t even form a significant part of Diwali’s 1300–1400 year-old history. The festival is probably an amalgamation of harvest festivals around India. And like most of the festivals, it is more about the human connection we share than anything else — spending time with friends and family, sharing happiness with others. We must go back to the old ways of celebrating this festival or find new ones that don’t hurt the environment. Let’s value the sense of community in us more than the few seconds of visual amusement. The smiles give us a much long-lasting happiness and sense of contentment.

Photo by Aman Shrivastava on Unsplash

I am not against any religious practice. Nor do I hate people feeling happy. But this is may be one of the few opportunities left for us to fix our planet. Let’s not point fingers at other countries or cultures, let’s do the best we can to save our home.

I can only hope that someone reading this article stops bursting crackers. We shouldn’t need an official ban on crackers to stop this madness (even that proved ineffective last year). And I genuinely hope the only way we stop bursting crackers isn’t a total breakdown of our ecosystem.

I wish everyone a Happy Diwali.


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Thanks for reading 🙃