Diwali is almost here…we have been making cards for family and friends and every day during lunch time i tell the boys a little bit about Ram and why we celebrate Diwali – the festival of lights. I want it to mean more to them than lights and lanterns and firecrackers…and sweets and presents and new clothes.
The boys are excited about the festival but Nish and Sid are also a little worried…they both hate loud sounds – especially crackers. And Diwali has sadly become about loud and smoke churning fireworks. Crackers that go off as early as 5 in them morning and explode till late into the night. I am dreading the smoke and the thick veil of smog that will envelop the city in the next few days. I will probably not be able to see beyond a few hundred meters for a few days at least.
And i dread what it will do to Nish who tends to develop a bad wheeze with smoke and crackers. I rarely light even incense sticks at home because i don’t want to trigger an attack. So i fear to think what our current interpretation of the festival will bring for Nish.
I can understand the celebrations…the new clothes…the yummy food…maybe even a community fire works display. But at a time when the common man cannot afford onions and malnutrition is still a deadly killer, how ok is it to simply burn off money? Just blow it up in smoke? (and support an industry that in addition to adding significantly to pollution and accidents, also employs child laborers?)
As you buy yourself or your child a big stack of crackers (if you do), i would urge you to stop and reflect for a minute…is this really what the celebration is about? Can we interpret ‘light’ in a different way – can you light up someone’s face with a smile instead of bursting a cracker? Can you instead make do with colors? draw a gorgeous rangoli, paint a mural, light some lamps, share some mithai with someone who may not be as fortunate? Can we perhaps try to leave the city breathable for our children?
We plan to have some fun drawing rangoli designs, making lanterns, coloring ram, ravan and hanuman masks that i want to make for the boys. We plan to meet our friends and spend some fun time together. We plan to make some yummy goodies together in the kitchen and take a weekend trip to get out of the city which will probably be full of smoke.
Any thoughts on how you can celebrate this wonderful festival differently? Without the noise and the crackers?