- Posted October 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Diwali, the festival of lights
Celebrate a Green Diwali
Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil. Ironically, on the night of Diwali many ʻevilsʼ are unleashed, intentionally or unintentionally, and have a disastrous impact on the environment – both natural and man-made. Yet Diwali is a festival of fun and frolic and giving up on all the enjoyment and sitting at home is hardly the way to celebrate it.
Here are a few pointers which may help in indulging in Diwali revelries without endangering yourself or Planet Earth.
Minimalism is the key: This festival marks the celebration of wealth and prosperity. But many people mistakenly equate abundance with an ostentatious display of personal fortune. Thousands are spent on sweets, clothes, gifts, fireworks and food and on items which the household members probably have no use for. Showing off becomes an integral part of the proceedings. Spending money may be a good sign but wasting it is certainly not.
The fix: Spend your money by all means but share a portion of it with the less privileged. Distribute clothes and toys in an orphanage, donate practical and useful gifts to an old age home, buy a lavish gift for your house help. These gestures will not only help the needy but they will also put you in a feel-good frame of mind from where you may realise that pouring money into needless personal items is a bad way to handle finances.
Light, not sound: Diwali is the festival of lights but over the years it has degenerated into a festival of sounds. Localities have unofficial contests to determine who can raise the decibel level the maximum by bursting their range of designer bombs and mini-explosives.
Apart from the noise pollution which can be detrimental to the elderly and heart patients, the smoke given out by these crackers vitiate the air leading to respiratory diseases especially among young children.
The fix: Let us revert to the original form of feting the occasion by lighting lamps. These quaint diyas look so beautiful when they dot the fences and perimeters of houses turning street after street into a vast and mesmerising fire rangoli. Get some modeling clay from the market and hold a competition among the children in the neighbourhood on who can make the best diya. The enthusiasm among the young ones will be colossal and it will also give them something positive to do. Reward the winning entries with a box of your finest homemade sweets.
Another great idea is to opt for ecofriendly crackers. These are made of recycled paper and muted sound. When burst, they produce sparks of light instead of noise.
The firecracker craze: As a corollary to the above point, many children buy boxfuls of fireworks to burst on Diwali night. They may not be bombs but the pinwheels, flowerpots, rockets and other crackers can be equally hazardous due to the smoke they emit. But children being children, it is well nigh impossible to keep them away from fireworks.
The fix: Keep the crackers to a bare minimum. A packet each of sparklers, pinwheels and flowerpots should do the trick. Space out the lighting of the crackers to prolong the duration. In between each round of fireworks, make them sing Diwali songs, recite poems and tell stories. The evening will fly by on rosy wings and they will enjoy without inhaling too much smoke and without getting too fidgety.
Dress down: The temptation to deck yourself in grandeur and sparkle like the lamps is very strong on Diwali night. Fine silk threads, embroidered saris and lehengas for the ladies and kurtas and dhotis for men are the traditional attires that most Indians aspire to wear. Complementing jewellery adds to the aura and hence raises the craving to adorn them. However, all these pieces of finery spell disaster in capital letters and indicate danger for all around.
The fix: Keep the fancy clothes for special occasions like anniversaries, wedding receptions and birthdays. For Diwali wear tight- fitting clothes in eco-friendly and body-friendly fabrics like cotton and bamboo. Cotton does not mean boring. There are exciting options, shades and textures available in cotton couture, so go for it. Again, exchange your saris for a snug kurti and leggings (avoid dupattas, if possible). This will give you freedom of movement and keep you anxiety free. Dress your children in a similar fashion and enjoy a super-cool Diwali.
Spread awareness: Nothing is more effective than posters and slogans to make people aware of a noble deed. The same goes for creating awareness about an ecofriendly Diwali. Doing everything on your own may be a daunting task, so ask for friends and family to pitch in with catchy jingles, attractive charts, e-cards and pamphlets which can be distributed in your neighbourhood to kick start the campaign.
Common celebration: With gated communities on the rise an individual celebration is fast losing its sheen and group revelries are gathering steam. Take advantage of this trend and encourage your apartment dwellers to pool in and celebrate. This will not only slash the cost and pollution, it will also bring you all closer and help you bond with each other. Also, a symbiosis of eco-conscious minds will ensure that the celebrations are kept within permissible limits.
Disaster management: Whether it is an eco-conscious celebration or a general Diwali, safety should be of paramount importance. The main safety measures include having fire-fighting equipment at the ready, ensuring there are no loose electrical connections, bursting crackers outdoors, having adequate water resources and ensuring all emergency numbers are known to at least a few members of the community.
Have a safe, clean and green Diwali!