Ten-year-old Burhanuddin Chunawala vividly remembers the sand art video he was shown by his class teacher which had informed him about the ill-effects of firecrackers. “The story began from the Indus Valley civilisation, showing how the traditional way to celebrate Diwali is by just lighting diyas. It then moved on to our times where people were shown bursting loud firecrackers and we saw how badly it scares the pets. They showed us how pollution harms people,” recalled the fifth standard student of Victorious Kidss Educares school, who said he did not want to buy firecrackers this year.
In fact, not just him but most city parents say they have seen a noticeable change in students this year where the kids either refuse to buy firecrackers or consciously choose less noisier ones. Parent of a nine-year-old student of Delhi Public School, Kiran Mane, said that her son refused to buy firecrackers. “Not just him but most of the kids feel the same way. In fact, we (parents) tried coaxing the children to buy something as we felt it was tradition but the kids are not interested. My son was saying that the school had conducted a few awareness sessions on pollution caused by firecrackers and how it can affect the birds. Their teacher also explained to them how fireworks are made in China and indirectly informed them of the ban on Chinese products, which had actually encouraged them to stay away from it. I think schools are getting very innovative,” she said.
Munira Sabuwala, mother of two and a resident of NIBM Road, said not children but elders need to change their approach and drop firecrackers from their Diwali celebrations. Even as her children forbade her from buying any firecrackers, they did run into an argument over Diwali celebrations with a local politician. “They (the politician’s family) started bursting firecrackers late at night and in the wee hours and did not stop even after my kids intervened. I think it is the elders who need education, not kids,” she said.
Meanwhile, schools are glad that their sustained awareness drives are working.
Rita Katawati, principal of Hutchings School, said most city schools have been conducting these awareness campaigns. “Every year, we start educating the kids about pollution and firecrackers, at least a few days before Diwali. We also discuss it during school assemblies… teachers too use innovative ways to drive home the message,” she said.