• Mayuri Chaudhuri

How Much Brighter Do You Want Diwali to Be?

India is a country brimming with diverse civilizations that celebrate a wide range of festivals. Diwali is a festival that is observed by Indians across the world, regardless of religious affiliation. It symbolizes Lord Rama's victory over the evil Ravana and his return to his realm after serving his father's forest sentence.


It also represents the triumph of light over darkness. As a result, lighting diyas (candles) and crackers has become an evident feature of the celebration throughout time.


People in India celebrate the festival by burning firecrackers.
People in India celebrate the festival by burning firecrackers. (Channi Anand/USA Today)

While it is exciting to see magnificent illuminating displays in every residential and business place, the noise and smoke that accompany cracker burning contrast the same. This activity is done by people of all ages.


How Far and Wide is Diwali Celebrated?


Diwali is a country-specific festival that is also observed in Dubai, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Fiji, Mauritius, Nepal, Canada, and other countries around the world. In some ways, Indian communities all over the world have ensured that the Diwali culture is shared by lighting and burning crackers.


The festival is celebrated at Trafalgar Square, London.
The festival is celebrated at Trafalgar Square, London. (Outlook India)

Diwali comes in a variety of forms, depending on where you are in India. While it is known as Deepawali in Northern India, it is also called Kali Puja in the East (revering the goddess). As a result, the festival's reach is vast, as are its after-effects. Smoky skies at the end of the week are a familiar sight. Air pollution is at an all-time high, exacerbated by industrial poisoning.


What are Diwali's Ramifications?


The most eagerly anticipated festival has a slew of downsides. The most well-known is air pollution. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are released into the air as a result of the firecrackers. When breathed, these can result in cancer, respiratory problems, and early mortality, among other things.


Heath effects illustration of pollution caused by Diwali.
Heath effects illustration of pollution caused by Diwali. (NDTV)

Lead is discharged into the air and settles on the surface, becoming the most common source of human consumption. It circulates through the body's important organs and deposits on the bones, causing reproductive and immune system problems.


Furthermore, it reduces the blood's oxygen-carrying ability. Low-level exposure causes behavioral difficulties in infants who are more sensitive.


A graphic showing how each chemical affects our body.
A graphic showing how each chemical affects our body. (Daily Mail)

Another prevalent issue is aluminum toxicity. Although its presence is naturally occurring through the ingestion of earthly substances, high levels of inhalation after firecracker burning have been linked to decreased kidney function, hemodialysis, nervous system problems causing difficulty with voluntary and involuntary actions, and bone diseases, among other things.


Mercury causes peripheral vision loss, pins and needles sensations in the hands and feet, and lack of coordination of movements, speech, hearing, walking, and muscle weakness.


Picture from Diwali in Delhi.
Picture from Diwali in Delhi. (TIME)

Another one of the festival's major fatal flaws is noise pollution. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is reported to be the most frequent ailment (NIHL). The victims lose their perception of high and low frequencies as a result of this. Sleep difficulties, stress, elevated blood pressure, and tinnitus are all caused by prolonged exposure to excessive sound levels.


The National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network (NANMN) was established across the country at 70 stations to study the average noise levels before and after Diwali. The majority of the stations met the ambient noise regulations on Diwali day.


Noise pollution levels across major cities in India on the day of Diwali.
Noise pollution levels across major cities in India on the day of Diwali. (Springer)

Animals get adversely affected by the same. Their sensitivity to the noises makes them more susceptible to the crackers burning. With continual exposure, they lose their ability to act on their survival. Many of the migratory birds residing in the area during this time become susceptible to losing their way back home territory.


What is an Eco-Friendly Diwali?


The concept of an eco-friendly emerged recently with the awareness of the fatal aftermath of the festival. Switching to environment-friendly customs of celebrating Diwali might sound unnatural but is the need of the hour.


Here are a few things you can try,


1. Arranging Family Games


Playing cards at Diwali is a very popular trend.
Playing cards at Diwali is a very popular trend. (Postoast)

2. Light Up Earthen Diyas or Candles


Buying such diyas also supports local businesses.
Buying such diyas also supports local businesses. (Extramile)

3. Using Eco-Friendly Decorations


Avoiding plastic decorations should be imperative.
Avoiding plastic decorations should be imperative. (Agnito Today)

4. Sending Eco-Friendly Gifts to Relatives


Gifting plants instead of crackers will promote a healthier Diwali.
Gifting plants instead of crackers will promote a healthier Diwali. (The Alternative)

5. Making Rangolis


Creating rangolis with organic colors is a Diwali custom.
Creating rangolis with organic colors is a Diwali custom. (Business Upturn)

Conclusion


Many might argue that bursting crackers is a part of a long-lasting tradition and stopping it now will be against what we have been practicing for generations. Any tradition or practice that causes harm to us and everyone around us is not worth it.


By avoiding bursting crackers, we can significantly bring down the noise, air, water, and land pollution around the Diwali festival benefitting humans, animals, birds, and nature. There could never be a better reason to do so.



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Mayuri Chaudhuri is an Indian-based History Honors Graduate and a Content Writer at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability, who is seeking cognizance to varied issues in the world through the power of a pen.


Inputs and Edits by Aswin Raghav R.