Driving back home last night, after spending the Deepavali evening with family, my wife and I were struck by the mess on the roads. The aftermath of the crackers and the smoke in the air was evident on the roads of the city. Nothing has changed in the last 20-30 years in that regard at least. Yes, the cost of the crackers has gone up manifold. There may be many different types of new firecrackers introduced in the market that I am unaware of. Regardless, the mess with the burnt crackers remains post Diwali.
This year, there was a limitation on bursting crackers between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Who was going to enforce such a rule anyway? Even the policemen have families. They deserve to spend this one festival with their family as much as anyone else. There are news items of bookings under this new ruling of the Supreme Court, but surely, those are just for the media to report? Stats that can be claimed and receipts that can be shown? I know that I saw a group of guys bursting a 1000-wala at 11:30 p.m. Like I said, it is the one night that everyone in India celebrates with aplomb, who is to deny them this joy?
Awareness among all of us has increased to such an extent that we talk of pollution a whole lot more. Air and noise pollutants such as firecrackers are frowned upon and on TV, there are a slew of celebrities imploring everyone to not burst crackers. Only light diyas. I confess that I was in that bandwagon for a few years too. No crackers – just a waste of money was the way that I looked at it. But then, what is the essence of the festival? Of course, meeting and spending time with family, lots of sweets and enjoying the well-lit streets of the city are a given. Eventually, on the day, our tradition has been about bursting crackers. Our parents did it, as did theirs and perhaps, even theirs! Look at it in another way, the rest of the world celebrates New Year in much the same way we celebrate Diwali – with a dazzling display of fire crackers. Why deny a common Indian the joy of bursting some of their own?!
Yes, we must change with the times. Ideally, we must clean-up after the celebrations and ensure our surroundings are as tidy as our houses are. The cynical side of me says that our Bharat is not Swacch even on a non-Diwali day, how can it possibly be clean after Diwali? We are poor at maintaining cleanliness all round (cue the plethora of plastic covers and bottles at any tourist destination of your choice) and expecting that to change is asking a lot. But, change we must. Population has increased and so has the scale of pollution. We owe a clean slate to our next generation just as we owe a clean white board to the next users of the meeting room at the office. It is always a good time to begin. So, let’s start with cleaning up after the Diwali celebrations!
Happy Deepavali! It ain’t over until it’s all clean and dandy!