Zoe

Don’t turn Diwali into a scene from a disaster movie

Usually, I wake up to the sound of birds. As noisy as my city can be, it allows for such luxuries. But in two days, my playlist for the wee morning hours will drastically change. Because people will be celebrating Diwali – the Festival of Lights. Every year, around this time, they become a discourteous lot. Armed with fireworks, they act like kamikaze arsonists. By exercising archaic cultural rights, they turn the neighborhood into a battleground. Not just for me but every other species – stray, domestic or wild.

Despite all the smiling and cheering, my city paints a grim picture. The air is thick with the stench of harmful gas. Plant life-forms rot because of toxic substances. Birds hide in their nests. Animals run scared. The fortunate ones find shelter under sofas. The rest shake, like autumn leaves, frightened and helpless. Roaming the streets, they sniff for some sign of humanity.

It resembles a scene from a low-budget disaster movie.

shutterstock_483397438

A long time ago, I was fascinated by fireworks. Even after I heard about the business of bonded child labor, I was excited about the ear-splitting celebration. I wasn’t going to give up on it just because children in my age group, far away from where I lived, were victims of economic oppression. It was also a matter of prestige back in the day. The house that was most likely to burn itself to the ground had most the number of envious onlookers.

Nobody really told us the firework displays were that harmful. They seemed dangerous only when we suffered third-degree burns from premature explosions. But, I wasn’t repulsed by them.

Some were scarier than the rest. There was one called the atom bomb that was loud as a hammer to the eardrum. Another had 10,000 tiny bombs exploding relentlessly, one after the other. Only later I realized these were terrible excuses to flaunt one’s festive mood, considering all the damage done.

Nowadays, people are adopting a greener frame of mine. More importantly, school authorities are telling the students about the harsh realities. They have figured out that Diwali isn’t about getting together and creating a ruckus. And how bursting crackers is far more dangerous ritual than haphazardly flying kites.

But still, there isn’t nearly enough who say ‘no’ to crackers. Last year, many animals  were injured. The roads were littered with burnt papers and plastic material. And the nights were drunk on ugly noises. Some still claim that bursting crackers is an uncompromising part of the country’s tradition. I am unsure what to tell them. I don’t want them to suffer from third-degree burns or anything. I just hope they understand the importance of being decent human beings.

It is a case of life or death for some species, including our own.

So, please turn the volume down. It isn’t the festival of noise. Try to not hurt anyone by being irresponsible about the way you celebrate Diwali. Our generation may not have started the fire that is causing irrevocable damage to the environment. But we are pouring gasoline on it by being uncooperative and disharmonious.

If you live in Chennai and happen to come across a wounded animal over the next few days, please contact the rescue helplines, as mentioned below.

14671355_10153781730852038_1470323559673914850_n

A festival of lights
turned into a carousel of noise,
with streets littered with
kamikaze teenagers carrying
explosive toys, sponsored by
frustrated men acting like 12-year-old boys
as polluted skies cough up
dirty egg-white clouds
bleached in murky turquoise.

(Photographs: Vedanthangal, Masinagudi and Kodaikanal)

(Image: Shutterstock)

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37 comments

  1. Well said Christy. Sharing onward. I’ve lost a dearest companion, my 10 year old Lab. to the noise pollution. She had always been scared of loud noises, even thunder. That year, three years ago, during Vishu (in Kerala, that is a festival of noise) she, as usual, hid under the bed, but did not emerge for nearly 24 hours, despite coaxing and pulling. She was a nervous wreck. Since she refused to mess the inside of the house, her bladder was full and she retained only to fall ill to multiple organ failure arising out of this infection, and paralysis of her hing leg, being crouched under the bed. No matter how often I say this, I cannot say it enough. Say no to crackers.
    Thank you. You’ve put it way more kindly that I ever could.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. said it like it is…though my part of goa is relatively quiter,yet this morning at 5am,i could here the “bombs”go off in the distance and now that you mention it,my regular birds were missing…when will we learn…when?

    oh yaa…happy diwali:)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. like i was telling my mom today,she is terrified of crackers…only when the very young in our country grow to be adults and that if,we can keep drumming it in,how harmful this noise is to all and sundry…than maybe…india,may celebrate diwali,as the festival of lights

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah sandy, the young ones must be steered to safer, lesser polluted shores. I do see more parents talking to their kids about the health and social hazards of firecrackers these days but not nearly enough for me to breathe in the morning air during Diwali!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Children are generally stupid. ”
    Not half as stupid as their parents are.
    We live in IIT campus where it is forbidden to burst noisy crackers. While most of the residents adhere, there are some nutcases whose sensitivities are the size of their brains. Usually these are little (and not so little) boys, never girls. So I would extend your children are stupid theory to boy kids are stupid.
    I have an eighty seven year old grandmother with a weak heart. I live in tension through this season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do see where you are coming from. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been abrupt. I meant children are stupid when it comes to decision-making as compared to adults on a wider scale. I wasn’t calling them out for it, merely elucidating on the lack of practical information in their lives. I wholeheartedly agree that many parents are far sillier than their children. Boys have this craving for dumbfounded machismo that makes them infinitely worse, yes.

      Sending audio force field vibes to your grandma!

      Like

      1. My grandma from last year has passed on. But my aversion to noise remains.
        I hear birds chirp and a distant dog bark as I type this now. This might be the last of the natural sounds I hear for the next few days.
        Stupid life form we are.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Awww yeah LG. “Once more into the fray, into the last good fight I will ever know”. I hope future generations rethink this one real hard. It makes absolutely no sense to be this discourteous to other species.

        Like

  4. I do feel sorry for the pets.. birdies and the street doggies.. 😔But can’t help and tell people not to bust crackers but if everyone tries to show little bit of caution and care I guess it could be a harmless diwali for the other members of the universe too.. In between wish you a fun filled and happy happy eco friendly diwali.. ☺☺

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post, Christy, even if it’s not a pleasant one in general. I hope that you have dried out and got some rest. I feel for all the poor other creatures that must endure the madness of these human holidays. And child labor of any kind should be punishable by jail time, not just fines and business closures!! Zero tolerance.

    Here in America, fireworks are generally illegal within the city limits. Our city strongly encourages us to rat out offending neighbors (which we do), since homes, fields, and woods can easily catch fire from rogue rockets. I feel mostly for the nocturnal wildlife who have a hard enough time with the absence of night (i.e. dark and quiet) with our 24/7 habits. Gone is the diurnal human.

    PS – Your roller is more beautiful every time I see her…and gasp that owl is making me jealous; nice that your friend was able to catch some photos, and you, some cherished birding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your Pelican beak-full of kindness, Shannon. A delight to have you contribute to the discourse, as always ❤

      I have heard of the synchronized July the 4th fireworks display, sounds a lot less harmful (and maniacal) than our celebratory fervour.

      The options are certainly there in India too. Smoke-free, bonded labour-free and non-explosive varieties. Just that people don’t go for them because it doesn’t fit their archaic notion of being in festive spirits.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember Diwali nights when the noise of fireworks would be on full volume, and we’d hardly be able to sleep. A regulation was brought in to deter people being noisy beyond 10 PM but who cares for rules?

    To its credit though, every successive year has seen lower levels of noise pollution here – at least it sounds quieter to me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A very happy Diwali to you as well!

        I think I was mistaken earlier. There’s a 10,000 one bursting afar as I type this. Our locality has pretty much shut down. The night watchman is out on his patrol. The car alarms aren’t going off near our house. Our windows don’t seem like they are going to explode. But the night is still noisy.

        The good thing is, it will be over soon. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pretty much like the UK during the new year celebrations and on Guy Fawkes night (November 5th) each year. Tons of fireworks let off all everywhere – no thought for animals or birds, and evne though many of the displays are put on by local authorities there are always still children injured by the fireworks. Very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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