Guiding Light: Deepavali – Looking back

I am happy to see that in most places Deepavali was celebrated with very little use of crackers. There are different opinions about this – the environmentalists think this is a long-overdue move, the industry analysts say that a Rs 6000 crore cracker industry is being destroyed and a lot of people will be out of jobs, others saying, ‘Why are they going against only Hindu festivals and not against other religious festivals?’. There may be some point in all these arguments.

Let us examine the core issues. The environment is definitely better with fewer crackers and yes the cracker industry will suffer. This may be the time to divert the people and the resources into something more productive in a controlled way for use in mining and the construction industry. There will be less damage to the environment. Industry experts and economists have to look into it. I am sure that certain win-win solutions can be found.

Diwali is ‘Deepavali’ meaning a garland of lights. It was always a festival of lights not a festival of sound and smoke. Crackers are comparatively recent when one considers a culture that extends 6000-7000 years. Remember Bhagavan Rama lived anywhere from 3000-5000 BC. After the battle in Lanka, he was going to reach Ayodhya during Amavasya, the new moon night. So, the lighting of lamps to illumine the whole city so that they could know where to land the Pushpaka Vimaana, seems to be a perfectly sound idea. Deepavali was welcoming him home.

Even if we consider crackers to be 2000 years ago it is recent. It is only when explosives became more readily available in the market the tradition of crackers started. So just because a few generations have done it, does not mean that it has to be a part of the Indian culture. Any culture is ever-evolving. So if some custom is damaging to the environment we can modify it, to serve the people. Deepavali will go on for centuries to come. Minus the crackers, it will not be a big loss.

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