There was a time, when Diwali was supposed to be the most joyous festival celebrated in India. The darkness of night was conquered with ‘anars’ and ‘diyas’. The skies were lighted with rockets. The atmosphere was dominated with the uproar of ‘pathakas’ and ‘sutli-bombs’. Where has it all gone? What a quiet Diwali it has been.
I was talking to one of my friends online… after I wished him about Diwali, I asked him about, what are his plans about celebrating Diwali tonight. To my surprise, he says, this Diwali is being celebrated as ‘Green Diwali’ with no crackers… a total pollution-free night. I was like … dude… without burning crackers… it’s no Diwali. And why the hell are you linking the celebration with pollution? And he started lecturing me about ‘how much pollution the crackers cause’, environment affect and inconvenience it causes to people of other religions. I was like… WTF! Inconvenience to people of other religions??? Who the hell even complained? During Ganesh Chaturthi, for about 10 days, at every street end, a big Idol of Ganesh is kept blocking the traffic and loud music is played till mid-night… yet nobody complained. People of India are sensible enough to understand the celebrations of each other. Nobody in India has felt Diwali as inconvenience… Diwali has always been celebration of light and love.
Anyhow, yesterday night (5th Nov), I waited for the evening when the sky would light up with rockets. At about 7 PM, I stood in the balcony to witness the charm of the Diwali (I am currently in Bangalore, staying at a hotel). Unfortunately, it wasn’t like the Diwali I have been witnessing over the years. Occasionally, there was sound of a cracker, but the whole night was so quite. It was as-if it wasn’t the occasion of Diwali. At about 9 PM, there were few burning of crackers and rockets for about 5 minutes... and that’s about it. Damn it! Five years back, we burned more crackers than that, whenever India defeated Pakistan in a cricket match!
You might ask… why am I feeling so bad about it? It isn’t part of the religion I follow, so why should I be bothered about it? So, let me say, Diwali isn’t just about a particular religion. Over the years, it has become part of culture of India. It’s has its uniqueness and that’s makes it special. Imagine Christmas without Christmas tree, imagine Id without ‘sheer-khurma’ and biryani… it doesn’t sound joyous! It’s neither that Christianity says, you cannot celebrate Christmas without a Christmas tree… nor Islam says, you cannot celebrate Id without sheer-khurma and biryani. It is the culture that makes to celebrate certain festivals certain way. For example, imagine celebrating Holi without colors? Imagine celebrating Raksha-bandhan without rakhi? It doesn’t makes sense. So is, celebrating Diwali without crackers.
Also, what adds to my anger is that fact that, few days back, Indians in all metropolitan cities celebrated Halloween with lots of passion. I wonder why! In Hyderabad, virtually every pub/restaurant had Halloween party and there were all these people with weird costumes. Indians celebrating in Halloween in US can be justified as an attempt to mingle with American people… but Indians in India celebrating a festival which has nothing to do with India is bizarre. Anyhow, I am not against celebration. But what I really against is, if the people have time and budget to celebrate Halloween… why don’t they have time and budget to celebrate Diwali the way it is supposed to be celebrated?
Saying, burning of crackers during Diwali causes pollution and hence, one is not burning crackers to avoid pollution is bull. It’s ridiculous argument. Think about it… there are numerous other ways to reducing pollution that we ignore. Diwali happens once a year… it’s a moment of joy. From centuries, we have been celebrating it through lighting up the light… now, all of a sudden… not celebrating the way it is supposed to be… shows the hypocrisy . Someday, this hypocrisy will result in losing our uniqueness. Common Indians… wake up! We need to retain the good things in our culture… our festivals are one among them.
I apologize if this has hurt anyone. But the truth is, I wanted to express my mind. As a citizen of a nation that supports freedom, I am allowed to express this.