Diwali is a mind-boggling occasion that cuts across all boundaries economic, cultural, racial and otherwise. It is a time filled with light and love, a time when Indians all over the word rejoice. Its celebrations include millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings. Diwali celebrations date back to ancient times in India and are mentioned in Sanskrit texts such as the Padma Purana and Skanda Purana. There are significant variations in regional and rituals, depending upon the region, prayers are offered before one or more deities, with most common being Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth. The reasons for celebrations of Diwali are innumerable and are linked to Lord Rama’s glorious and long awaited return to his kingdom of Ayodhya after his fourteen years of exile in the forests, it also commemorates Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon Narakaasura, who had kidnapped and terrorized the ‘Gopis’ of Vrindavan. It is also celebrated as the day Bhagwan Vishnu married Maha Lakshmi. In general, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, and of light over darkness. The religious significance of Diwali varies regionally within India, depending on the school of Hindu philosophy, regional, legends, and beliefs. Hindu across the world celebrate Diwali in honor of the return of Lord Rama. With the changing time the style of celebrating Diwali has also changed drastically. Now Diwali celebrations mean electric illumination and bursting noisy fire crackers. This change in the celebration style has imposed many negative effects on the environment. Some of the effects are excessive air pollution, excessive noise, soil pollution and excessive power consumption. Besides these environmental effects, the modern style of celebrating Diwali also leads to various health hazards such as hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleep disturbance, asthma, headaches, irritability, skin allergies, eye-related problems, respiratory problems and many more. In these Covid-19 times, the word, ‘safe’, doesn’t only imply crackers but also suggests protecting oneself from catching the virus.
We celebrate Diwali in traditional ways but some new vision is required to be enshrined in celebrating it in an eco-friendly manner. Some of the ways we can look for are; every year we paint and touch up our homes. But no one pays attention to that garbage dump in the corner. It stinks to high heaven and is a veritable house of all ills. Have it cleaned up and painted afresh. At least for some time, flies and mosquitoes will be less. Let us join hands this Diwali to clean the society as well as it will encourage positive atmosphere in the neighborhood and double the joy of festivity. Diwali is family time, but what about those elders and kids who have no families. So let us take out sometime this Diwali to meet them. There are several old age homes and orphanages dotting the cities. Let us take this opportunity to exchange our happiness with their gloominess and to put a smile on at least one such pretty face. Every year, millions of rupees go down the drains in the buying and bursting of crackers during Diwali. Why can’t the same money be utilized to uplift the poor? In India, innumerable people do not get even a morsel of food to eat. Instead of wasting money on crackers, the same money can be donated to an orphanage or a home for the aged. We live in a society, where we have elders, senior citizens, and people suffering from heart problems, new born babies and our young generation preparing for competitive exams. This category of people requires a total calm and noise free pollution. Environment pollution is not an ailment that can be cured with these measures overnight, but it is the proper time to take a step towards eco-friendly practices.
Diwali this year will be celebrated on 4th November 2021 and people definitely would have finalized their preparations for the occasion. But this year like last one will not have as much fun as it used to owing to the Covid-19 that has affected life financially as well as physically. The Covid-19 has not completely warded off hence we have to adhere to many protective measures. Use water and paper soap instead of sanitizer. It is necessary to avoid the use of sanitizers, especially alcohol-based ones, during lighting candles or ‘Diyas’. Sanitizers are highly inflammable and can immediately catch fire causing serious fire hazards. One should always wash the hands properly before lighting up candles or ‘Diyas’. While Diwali marks the coming together of people as one single community, the onset of a third wave of the pandemic is still a big concern. Therefore, it is imperative to take appropriate caution and care to celebrate the festival of lights without compromising on health or safety. Apart from a precautionary measure to stop the spread of COVID-19, the use of masks is a necessity during Diwali. The smoke emitted from the burning of crackers can cause severe problems to patients living with respiratory issues and can also increase the possibility of developing respiratory symptoms like wheezing, cough or burning sensation in the eye. If possible we should have a high-efficiency air purification device installed within our homes which can take care of not only Diwali-related pollutants detrimental to our health, but also ensure that we continue to breathe healthy purified air in our homes even after Diwali. If you are planning to venture out and meet people this Diwali, avoid gatherings or large parties. It is best to have small family get-togethers. Lastly, may this ‘Diwali fill into your lives new hopes for future and new dreams for tomorrow and you shine like sparkles, glow like candles and burn all the negativity like crackers.’ Wish you a happy and cheerful Diwali!
Mahadeep Singh Jamwal ([email protected])