Diwali - should we celebrate it with crackers?
Given an option, I always chose window seat on the flight. reason being, I take childish delight in looking over the scenery, the snow white clouds, the ground where everything is minuscule, and far off objects.
Thus it was no wonder that I found myself occupying a window seat on my return flight from Calcutta to Delhi last Tuesday, after having celebrated Diwali at home. Flight from Calcutta to Delhi is especially pleasurable as for a large part of the flight, you can look snow capped peaks of Himalaya jutting out of clouds at a distance. The view, for me, is breathtaking and spellbinding. I also like to look at the ground, whenever there is a break in clouds, and try to figure out farms, towns etc. I have noticed the landscape change over the years, from being pre dominantly green, to predominantly brown - the shade of soil. I am always disappointed at the pace with which green seems to be disappearing.
This flight, however, had another surprise in store for me. My flight had to circle over Delhi airspace for almost half an hour before it was granted permission to land. During this time I was surprised to notice that the clouds, or air over Delhi air was not white. For as far as I could see from my vantage point in the flight, the air was grey - the color of smoke!
Prior to this flight, last I flew over Delhi was last year in May. I don't recall Delhi air being as grey then. And this set me thinking, could this possibly due to recent Diwali celebrations? If it was, it would be a rude indication to the amount of pollution that we successfully add to environment under guise of celebrations!! A colleague at office today said that during Diwali, his eyes were burning for two days! Could pollution from crackers, once again, be the possible culprit?
I stopped burning crackers some 12 years back. Not because I did not want to add pollution to environment, but because I did not like to see money going up in smoke. I also did not support child labor employed in cracker producing industry. I disliked being woken up at 2 in night by the loud crackers burnt by inconsiderate neighbors. It was only later, during my MBA, that I learned about carbon markets, environmental pollution etc, and this only reinforced my decision not to burn any crackers during Diwali.
As I understand it, the idea behind Diwali is to spread joy, much like what westerners do during Christmas. I think there are other, far more effective ways to celebrate, come together and spread joy, than by burning crackers. I thus, for once, find myself favoring government's decision to ban certain crackers. I think it is a step in right direction, and we all should embrace it.
I recently came across blog of a noted Author and Journalist Sauvik Chakraverti, who is in favor of burning crackers, and against government's decision to ban them. His post can be found here.
True to my nature, I immediately left a comment on his post (there already was a long string of comments and counter comments) putting forward my view on the matter.
What I want now if to find out what others - primarily readers of my blog think. Should we go ahead and keep burning crakcers, or we can find alternate means of celebration? If some of you don't burn crackers, I would love to hear what made you stop burning crackers. In short, I would like to know your take about Diwali, and crackers. So come on guys.. let it out :)