Thursday, October 23, 2014

Should our Diwali really be cracker-less?

Photo credit

India is a land of festivals. And yes, i have said this before here and here. In these modern times, new fangled ideas abound everything. Including festivals. Come Ganpati and canvassing for organic Ganpatis starts. Karvachauth arrives and feminists cry out aloud against women having to fast. Come Diwali and there's hue and cry over making it cracker less. For the environment, for the poor kids in Sivakasi and also as a topic to tweet about something! Wishful thinking but there were whispers about a bloodless Eid too.

Fantastic ideas all! But aren't we missing out on something crucial here? Tradition! I am not talking about conventions or orthodoxy. Yes, we need to change traditions to suit our changing lifestyles. But do we have to kill them altogether? Can we not find a midway to meet tradition and practicality?

While we are baying for men's blood because women have to fast for them on Karvachauth and say let's skip the fast and do the rest, aren't we killing the very soul of what the day stands for? I know I have said otherwise elsewhere. But I still mean - keep the tradition alive. Fast or no fast just keep up the spirit bonding and love for each other between a couple.

Organic Ganpatis are great but why did we have to think of it in the first place. Because we believe in overdoing things. Do we have to have a Ganpati in every street corner? Can we not have organic Ganpatis AND have just a few community ones so that we don't have to immerse a few thousand idols every year? The tradition will still stay alive, which to me is more important than every individual showing off his piety with an idol each.

I think what matters the most to me is the cracker less Diwali campaign. No, I am not saying "To hell with the bleeding and burning kids at Sivakasi, go and blow your money on crackers". I am just saying that if you impose a ban on crackers on Diwali, are we not killing a very important part of what the festival is? I don't know what the history behind bursting crackers is and I won't get into it. I just know that my childhood memories of Diwali are incomplete without those smoky, noisy evenings spent bursting crackers with my siblings. I know the fumes are bad, unsafe for animals and no less than torture for the sick and elderly. But till eco-friendly crackers that emit, probably, fragrances rather than noxious fumes are made, we can exercise restraint and just do sufficient enough to keep the tradition alive!

Crackers keep the spirit of Diwali alive! Photo credit

Why I thing this is very important is the rapidly changing times we live in. The world has changed at an unprecedented pace in the last 5 years and is very different now even compared to the last 10 years. The kids born in 2000 are now well into teenage. The world they were born and are growing in is a world apart from our childhood worlds. These kids will never know inlands and postcards. They will never use stamps and post boxes. This generation can't imagine watching TV without the pause and play of Tata Sky plus. They will never know what having just one channel on TV is. And the thrill of waiting all week to watch our favourite programs - He-man or Giant Robot. The fun of bursting crackers for Diwali is something that we should not bereave them of. I know writing letters is obsolete, so that's ok. Television technology has moved and so have gadgets like phones. Let's make peace with it. But burst crackers - even if it a handful of them - for the sake of pure joy and family time that it brings with it. Let the kids of today enjoy what we did in our childhood.

We all are aware of the bad effects and people have drastically cut down on crackers compared to how it used to be! So go ahead and burst a few crackers this Diwali!

Have a Happy and safe Diwali!


  1. As a kid born in the late 1980's I have always preferred my Diwali to be cracker -less, and this was a personal choice (Long long long before it became a 'fad', or a 'twitter' trend. For me its always been about lights and glimmering diyas and all the festivities except crackers. But well, to each their own :)

  2. Hey! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I think that there is a lot of awareness now than ever before about keeping crackers at the minimal. I remember people starting a week before Diwali when I was a kid. We are getting there gradually :)