It’s been over a week and the sky over Delhi is clear. Diwali celebrations have ended and this year, it was far more cleaner and safer than the previous year. The sound of crackers wasn’t threatening to decapitate my ears and my grandparents did not have to rush out of town just to stay alive.
I remembered gazing intently at the same sky last season. It was hazy, dark clouds had perpetually shrouded Delhi NCR, obscuring the sun and submerging my hometown in a seemingly incessant gloom. I sighed and snapped out of my reverie, still wondering, whether banning the sale of crackers in Delhi had been the right thing to do.
Diwali was a time during which the entire country bought cartons of crackers. It was a time that shopkeepers and manufacturers prized. They would buy their stock a month in advance. For some, this profit would keep them going the entire winter.
The ban was incontrovertibly the right decision, but as I thought of the plight of the people who depended on the sale of crackers in order to earn their livelihood, I wondered if it was right to have implemented this rule just six days prior to the festival. For many, this would mean a crushing loss. Not to mention, a huge amount of resources had been wasted during the manufacture of these crackers. Their disposal would inevitably prove pernicious for our already crippled environment.
My sister shrilly hollered my name, and I sighed. Usually, during Diwali, she couldn’t say a word because her nebulizer covered most of her face. This time, she hadn’t used it even once, for a change, her asthmatic lungs weren’t dicing with death. The ban of crackers had permitted numerous people with breathing problems to celebrate Diwali, at home with their family members, instead of in the emergency room of a hospital.
However, I recalled the disappointed faces of most people around me when they heard of the ban. They believed that crackers are the ‘spirit’ of Diwali. Over the years, the true meaning of the festival has been lost amidst a jarring cacophony of crackers and lights. We’ve become so engrossed in our rockets and ‘phuljharis’, that we’ve forgotten to celebrate what we were meant to, the triumph of good over evil.
Perhaps, this ban will help us remember. However, it will do no good, if we continue to try and find ways to bend the rule. People have taken to buying crackers from outside Delhi, in order to burst them, undermining the entire purpose of the restriction. The courts may implement as many bans as they desire, but without understanding and support from the citizens, they will be in vain.
I believe, the best way to sensitise people is through making the bad effects of such festivities as part of our curriculum. Like, how during New Year eve, many people get drunk and drive carelessly. During Holi, we overuse water and play with certain colours that can harm our health. If students start minimal use of crackers or colours, it can bring a change.
We need to understand pollution and smog will continue to darken our sky as well as our future, and wreak havoc on our environment. It is high time we realised that in process of ‘having fun’, we are moving one step closer to our demise.
— Authored by Tvisha Raj, grade 6 student of Shiv Nadar School, Noida