Arts & Culture

Happy (Smoke Free) Diwali

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Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights, is a time of gratitude and gaiety and is celebrated with unmatched enthusiasm in India and the world around. Dipped in the frolic of festivity, the atmosphere is resonant of the righteous anthems of the triumph of the good and virtuous over the evil and spiteful.

The associated jamboree can be seen materialising as early as a month prior to Diwali. The merry sentiment is inherent in each household and is characterised by the obligatory Diwali shopping and cleaning. While the latter is more or less customary, the former holds its fair share of skepticism in the constituting wholes.

Firecrackers, a Diwali essential as insinuated by a significant percentage of Indian households, are the immediate cause of deteriorating air quality and to keep a check on the alarming pollution levels of the same, the Supreme Court on Monday, October 9 suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1. The move was an attempt to grade the air quality in the absence of unregulated burning of firecrackers during Diwali.

While it came as a blow to the traders and businesses dealing with them, with their licenses suspended temporarily, it is essential to contemplate the SC’s directive to render Diwali a damp affair in the national capital.

In the weekend that followed Diwali the previous year, India’s air quality was among the world’s worst and the government had declared an air pollution emergency in Delhi. The post-Diwali upheaval comprised of an average of PM 2.5 level of over 700 micrograms per cubic meter in the capital city, some of the highest levels recorded the world over and 29 times above the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. (Source:

Chetan Bhagat, contesting the credibility of the ban, tweeted, “Can I just ask on cracker ban. Why only guts to do this for Hindu festivals? Banning goat sacrifice and Muharram bloodshed soon too?” With Hindu nationalists colouring the ban in communal colours and dismissing it as a story of Hindu victimhood, it is important to understand that a ban on the sale of firecrackers is first, not the same as a ban on burning firecrackers and second, in no way a threat to the sanctity of the festival and insinuating it on similar grounds is nothing but willful notoriety.

Although he faced a lot of ridicule and criticism for the same, an earlier tweet of his talked about coming up with innovations and not bans, a theory which cannot entirely be negated. Bhagat and his ilk argue against necessitating a ban and instead, suggest enforcing stricter guidelines. However, if we had the sense to self-regulate, to understand the importance of common sense moderation it would not have come for the government to intervene, says The Huffington Post.

Burning firecrackers is the same as smoking cigarettes, people always know that it is harmful but they never know enough to stop. While the SC’s decision has been treated differently by different stakeholders, the fact remains that the ban is a bid to test the impact of a smoke-free Diwali post the previous year’s catastrophic state of affairs.

Deepavali, as the name suggests, has always had to do with the lighting of lamps to illuminate the path of Lord Rama on his way back to Ayodhya. The wayward involvement of firecrackers might have come about as an accidental disaster in the course of history, which eventually got incorporated in our associated tendencies of the festival, for all I know. But, accepting it just as such especially during a time when India’s national capital ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the world according to WHO’s latest urban air quality database released in May, 2017 can result in an unprecedented tragedy.

With just a few hours remaining before Diwali, the wisest choice is to not fret over things we have no control over and things we know are right, just not convenient. Let us resolve to celebrate the festival in all its glory, unmarred by erroneous practices and fabricated mirth.


Image Credits: The Indian Express

Lakshita Arora

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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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