Friday, October 28, 2011

Deepavali Crackers and My Chat With "Modern" Neighbours

It's that time of the year. The magical, noisy, colourful, pampering & jolly-jolly Deepavali or Diwali. After 3 days of magical fun with lights, sweets, crackers and prayers, met a few neighbours this morning.

Me: Hey.. Happy Deepavali, belated wishes.

Group: Same to you.

Me: Did you have a great time?

Group: Ok.. Hate the pollution & noise though..

Me: Yeah.. once a year. But see how many kids and adults had a blast!

Group: Why should people bother others for their enjoyment?

Children enjoying Diwali fireworks: {Source: The Hindu}
Me: Hmn... I said, it's once a year, for a few hours. Did you see the happy faces enjoying the bright flowerpots? How sparkling their eyes were seeing those sparklers? How thrilled the adults lighting those 100-walas? How majestic the evening sky was with bursting rockets 360 degrees?

Group: Enjoyment is fine.. but too much pollution and waste of money.

Me: But whose money is that? Whose enjoyment is that? As long as people spend their money, on their enjoyment, within legal means, what's your problem? If they violate stipulated rules like don't burn crackers late night, then I agree, we should voice against violations.

Group: But how do you justify the pollution? Do people have to fire crackers to enjoy? Can't they enjoy other way?
Bright colours on Bengaluru skies; Deepavali night; {Source: Inspions}

Me: To each his/her own.. Who are we to say "this" is the only way to enjoy? Let me ask you.. do you have a car?

Group: Yes.

Me: Do you have A/C at office, home and car?

Group: Yes. So what?

Me: Do you know that the CFC from Air conditioners are one of the worst pollutants on this planet?

Group: C'mon.. not as much as Deepavali crackers.

Me: Please do some research. Air conditioners for 200-250 days that you use, are 1000s of times more polluting the Earth than these hapless 3-4 hours of cracker time on Deepavali evenings.

Group: But AC is necessary, unlike these crackers.

Me: Who said? That's for you right. When you can afford an AC with your money, doesn't it sound ridiculous if I tell you not to "enjoy" the AC? Let me ask you. Do you enjoy meat like Mutton, Pork or Beef?

Group: Yeah.

Me: Do you know that meat production industry is one of the worst pollutants of this planet? I can provide UN & other studies which show that water, soil and atmosphere are heavily polluted throughout the year by meat industry. What if I tell you not to "enjoy" your meat, like you are preaching for crackers?

Group: But that's nonsense. We eat the food. You don't eat the crackers.

Me: But you can eat far lesser polluting sources of food too.. moreover, Air conditioning and refrigeration are  merely some luxuries afforded by a few, severely harming the atmosphere. What if the billions who can't afford them tell you to stop using ACs & fridges? U/V radiation is increasing due to Ozone layer puncture, precisely due to harmful CFCs.

Group: But what's your point?

Me: My point is, "pollution" is in the eyes of the beholder. I have never seen you strongly objecting to Bakrid or other festivals wherein animals are slaughtered on the streets, with blood polluting the drains & streets causing major health hazards. I have never seen you strongly protesting cutting of millions of trees for Christmas, not to add the massive power usage to decorate them. Have you ever protested strongly the loudspeaker induced noise pollution 5 times a day, 365 days a year, particularly the ones which blare before the permitted legal time of 6 AM? Why pick only on Diwali? Is picking up on Hindu festivals & customs a matter of 'modernity' in today's India?

Group: You are mixing up things. You can see the pollution dude. Check the air quality on Diwali evening.

Me: Precisely. I know there is an increased level of pollution. But that's for a few hours in a year. There are 8760 hours in a year and maybe this pollution is for 10-20 hours. Make it 50 hours in the worst case. But what about the severe pollution that a few rich & upper middle class guys cause throughout the world, most of the 8760 hours of the year? There are clear options to avoid all those major pollution. Take mass transit, cut the vehicle pollution. Use fans, cut CFC pollution caused by ACs where you can. Take a cycle or walk, cut that car pollution. Eat more environmentally healthy food which is less damaging the environment. Speak up against cutting of millions of animals on streets illegally or cutting of precious oxygen producing trees from forest for non-Hindu festivals too, if you consider yourself balanced. Protest against political parties bursting noisy crackers when someone wins or someone's birthday happens. I can go on... but..


Me: Precisely.. that's what I said yesterday firing my rockets from the terrace, to the ads preaching not to burn crackers :) Take care..and Happy Diwali again.. Next year, make it a point to watch for more colourful rockets from that terrace.. yeah.. that corner where I live :)


  1. Ha ha...well researched...every child must read that next yr they can have a valid proof while dealing with parent ...

  2. Dham (Atom Bomb) Pataaki v/s. Tuss Pataaki :-)

  3. very valid points... nicely constructed. valuable effort.

  4. So the bottom line is as long as animals are slaughtered on the streets for Bakrid, trees are cut for Christmas and loudspeakers are used in this world, we will make sure that we will wake up everyone who is sleeping at 11pm in night, even if they are old/sick/pregnant, who cares, its Diwali :)
    I love Diwali too, but I only have problem when people deliberately burst crackers after 10pm(sometimes even during midnight/early morning), even when there is a strict govt rule.

    1. Superb article!!! You have voiced the opinion of millions...God bless you...Happy Diwali!!!! :)

  5. A friend on Twitter @TrueNationalist shared this link on why people fire firecrackers :


    Saurabh, Venkat & Neo : Thanks for your appreciation.


    Whether bursting Diwali crackers after 10 PM or blaring loudspeakers at 4.50 AM from other religious places, we need to oppose both. The writeup here is about people firing crackers at permitted time like evenings, using permitted material like within decibel limitations and using common-sense & safety measures.

    No, if someone ties a cracker to a dog's tail for his "enjoyment" that would be stupid.

  6. You are using non-objection to other practices as a way to say that objection to this wrong practice is despicable. Hope you see the logical fallacy in that.

    The other practices you mention are insidious polluters, but Diwali is a direct, visible polluter.

    We should be glad that people are willing to take a stand against this rather than castigate them on not taking a stand against less obvious ones.

    You are lucky there was none in that 'group' to cut down your poorly constructed logic.

    You might engage in other activities to help the environment, but that does not excuse you publicly polluting it during Diwali.

    They might not take any other action, but that does not make their efforts to reduce Diwali pollution worthless...

    Something is better than nothing, especially in a country like ours.

  7. I fully agree to what you've said, mate. Especially, the bit where ACs, etc create more pollution. That's well researched, too.
    My only point is why make NOISE? And why force-feed our choices on others? Why not BUY something which will give pleasure as opposed to pain? Besides, you & I both know Deepawali is a festival of lights, sweets & rangolis. Since when did making noise kick in as an aspect of OUR culture? I strongly condemn the double standards of sicularists when they don't point in the direction of Mosques, hence, let me make it very clear. I HATE THE SOUND EMITTED VIA LOUDSPEAKERS @ MOSQUES AND IF I WAS A MUSLIM I WOULD HAVE BEEN ASHAMED OF MY COMMUNITY FOR FORCE-FEEDING NOISE TO OTHERS! Having said that, I would really be disappointed if a Muslim were to point point fire-crackers we burst AND INSULT OUR OWN CULTURE.
    PS: On the whole, I'm with you. We are on the same side (almost always) but firecrackers give a bad name to a festival - one which is yours, mine and that of every Hindu :-)

  8. @wanderingmirages - So visible pollution, that too for 0.001% of the duration of a year bad.. but invisible pollution for majority of the duration acceptable? :)

    @Neeraj Pai - Let's not overreact, even after accepting that loudspeakers are noise-polluters. I have seen the studies using dozens of monitors in Bengaluru. Suspendable particles, Sulpher dioxide, noise (decibel) level etc. are not horrendously higher on Deepavali. They are in most cases 30% or so higher for a few hours during the peak cracker period. But the intangible happiness of millions is priceless! They earn that right to celebrate. There are ways to avoid those few hours if one dislikes crackers. Ear plugs, locking in all windows/doors, taking a trip outside the city, are all options.

    Let people do what they feel is their enjoyable custom. Why being self-righteous & preach them when they are within legal restrictions?

  9. Kiran, it is not acceptable. both are bad and should be fought against. All I am saying is that fighting for one is better than none.

    And the awareness against pollution that it generates is what counts. Google 'the broken window theory' for more. over and out.

  10. There are other ways to happiness and joy for children and adults that is not contingent on externalities.

  11. I'm in agreement with you when it comes to the actual decibel levels. I really am. But what I'm saying is this is not ENJOYMENT (for many it still is but for an equally no of people it isn't). I lost a relative to a coronary attack due to those "suttli" bombs (more popularly known as Atom bombs). Trust me it was more like HARASSMENT for her but I agree that it could have been ENJOYMENT for others :-)
    PS: I'm not having a go at you. In fact, I'm a fan of your work.

  12. kiran very nice Article. loved it.

  13. It was actually LOL for me . A new perspective which i had failed to see till now.
    I was on the other side,as is ovious.
    Next year on im going to not squirm at the 'crackers' people.

  14. The TOIlet slimes particularly takes up this point every Deepavali.
    Their "newspaper" itself is a major pollutant.
    I have been watching crackers reduce every year due to this sustained campaign.
    Then comes Ganesh chaturthi...........

  15. I do not like the crackers which make loud noise, and only loud noise. Just because it harasses me and some others I know (in fact, a majority). And most of all, I hate those violating time limits and idiots who fire these crackers on Road!..
    All else, i am okay with it.
    And i don't fire crackers, just because I think its waste of money, but thats my opinion! If others have money, its their wish. After all, we are in a capitalist country... aren't we? :P

  16. One of the most sensible blogs I am reading after a long time, Kirankumarji and THANK YOU for the same. I have been maintaining the same view as you, but you have supported your argument with solid and valid facts & figures. Great. Let the adults who want to keep their luxuries and pleasures intact but deprive the poor Children of a few hours of delight and enjoyment on Diwali day, stand exposed. I am sure these adults would have burst crackers to the hilt when they were young but have now become 'noble men' giving advise that suits them the most !!!! Hypocrites !!! :(

  17. Sir, with your permission sharing it on my FB wall.