Are we really celebrating Diwali?

By Gayatri Sankar | Last Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 13:38
 
Gayatri Sankar  

At a time when India is speeding on its way towards being globalised or rather getting an image makeover, practicing indigenous customs and traditions have sort of taken a back seat. With religious festivals being represented and packaged in various forms of merchandise, everything looks hollow and mindless.

It’s more about exercising one’s buying power that gives people a chance to display their surplus wealth. It’s a time when the wealthy wouldn’t refrain from burning their money into ashes (and causing pollution)! How many of us celebrate Diwali as a reminder of the victory of good over evil? Do we really care to narrate the story behind the celebrations to our children? All we do is splurge, as if it’s a prestige issue.

But does one really bother about these “sentimental dialogues” so to say? I really doubt.

Nowadays, when people do make attempts to follow traditions, they tend to resort to shortcuts- electric lights (instead of oil lamps), rangoli patterns printed on plastic (in place of handmade rangoli) and artificial torans (instead of torans made of flowers and mango leaves) have replaced traditional decorative items.

If you visit the local market, you would be amazed to see the number of products merchandisers showcase. Whether or not they stand equal in value and beauty to the traditional ones isn’t anyone’s concern. What matters most is to buy all the fancy goods and in turn drain hard earned money. Money invested in noisy and dangerous fire crackers is nothing but criminal waste of wealth, that could be put into use elsewhere more constructively. It’s a time when producers of such goods make fortunes and buyers don’t have inhibitions acting silly.

I vividly remember having walked across a lane outside my house last Diwali to a store. And on my way, I saw a couple of street urchins with huge gunny bags around their shoulders. They were looking for things they could pick up from the street and probably make use of them. They were scantily dressed and amused to see a family that had gathered outside to burst crackers. As the rockets went up in the air, the urchins looked at the sky with an expression suggestive of despair.

Does one really think about the number of lives that are laid to rest forever (especially children) at fireworks factories? Do we really care for people at such factories and the effects of explosive chemical agents on their health? No we don’t. Moreover, the harm caused to nature is immeasurable.

But who cares? Had people been really conscious about such issues, they wouldn’t have ever indulged in such pompous and insensitive display. Shouldn’t people be acting more responsibly in ensuring they don’t pollute the environment while expressing their enthusiasm?

I could see remains of crackers strewn all over the streets the morning after the festival. I recalled events of the previous night on seeing the remains - people made merry bursting the crackers, screamed as loud as they could, shut their ears as tightly as they could. And I asked if Diwali was ever meant to be this wild and preposterous.

Many might not appreciate my thought, but I know for a fact that Diwali shouldn’t end up turning into a nightmare for anyone. Wouldn’t it make more sense if one makes the most of such a joyous moment by going the traditional way!



First Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 15:48

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