Excitment combines with caution as children set out for the most awaited part of the festive season the colourful display of firecrackers
It is that time of the year when the age old debate of whether fireworks and crackers are a necessity for festive celebrations comes into focus yet again. No matter what the opinion is,there is no practical solution to restrict the usage of fire crackers especially among children,who look forward to Deepavali sometimes for the sole reason of bursting fireworks and making merry. Parents have no choice but to give their children an official pass to indulge even though they have proved to turn ugly for many reasons from the risk involved to the pollution. We checked with children from various schools across the city to see how they are combining fun with careful precautions when it comes to lighting firecrackers and what efforts their respective schools and parents have taken to instill in them a sense of awareness and the need to burst the fireworks in a safe and supervised setting.
Tanmay Penta,a class nine student of The Bishop’s School,Kalyani Nagar,says,”Our school has taught us the importance of choosing eco-friendly crackers and to avoid buying excessively noisy ones in a bid to raise awareness about air and sound pollution. We have also been forbidden from bursting crackers on roads and to carefully dispose of the remains after we are done with them”. What is particularly impressive is that lessons about safety precautions when it comes to burning fireworks are being made accesible to children at a very early age. Yash Mundada a class eight student says,”Me and my friends have decided to burst only fancy crackers this time. We have taken moral from a lesson in our Marathi textbooks,which emphasizes on rise of noise pollution due to crackers. Take Lakshay H,first grader and one of the youngest students of St. Vincent’s School,”We have learned to keep crackers away from our bodies while lighting them and we were told to wear cotton clothes while doing so. Also,we shouldn’t burst fireworks indoors and we are not allowed to play with crackers if our parents are not with us. Last year I was burnt by a phuljadi I was playing with. So this time I’m going to be very careful.”
For other children,their parents have underlined the ongoing danger of the swine flu. Chetan Saluja,a sixth grader from Guru Nanak Public School tells us,”My parents have told me to maintain a distance from crowd. As a result,I have to minimise on bursting crackers”. Richa Harpalani,ninth standard student from St Anne’s School explains,”My parents and teachers are concerned about my health during this time beacouse of the contagious H1N1 virus so they aren’t too keen in my socialising with large groups for the festival. They are reluctant in buying fire crackers this year for that very reason”.
However,it can be difficult and to some extent wrong to restrict children from looking forward to lighting different varieties of crackers. And as can be expected,it is the fanciest and noisiest of bombs and crackers,which are the most attractive to them. Chirag Kirad,third grade student from Maharashtra English School lists all of the bombs he is expecting to celebrate Diwali with,”I want to burst a Lakshmi bomb,rockets,ladh,ladoo bombs,mendak bombs,sutali bombs and wire this year. My favourite is the seven-baad,which explodes seven times. But I promise that I will burst these bombs only when my elder sister is around. While Chirag is a big fan of bombs,it is chakras,gun tiklis and smoke snakes which delight Lakshay. Meanwhile,Aparna Shrinikethan a class five girl says,” I am waiting to buy the whistle and parachute rocket,120 shots and cartoons. Also children,who have never lit a cracker so far are going to try their hand the very first time this Diwali. Says Richa’s younger sister Hanisha,a third grade student,”I feel scared of bursting crackers but this time I am definitely going to enjoy some phuljadis and anars at least”. The hubbub about lighting the firecrackers will continue as it was and will be an integrated part of Diwali while some like Nitin Shrinivas a class X student of Jog school strive to be different,” This year I am celebrating crackerless diwali and encouraging my friends also. I think substituting fancy fireworks with noise crackers is not the solution,” he says.