Diwali is fast approaching but there are sparks and smoke coming out of Twitter already — all thanks to a ban and the hoard of tweets that followed.
The brouhaha started when the Supreme Court, on Monday, struck a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR. The decision, which was taken in an effort to control the notorious pollution level of the region, was welcomed by many.
However, Chetan Bhagat, being the vocal person he is, immediately registered his disapproval in a tweet that triggered a fresh debate on internet, laced with sarcastic retweets, witty responses and the ubiquitous trolls.
“Banning crackers on Diwali is like banning Christmas trees on Christmas and goats on Bakr-Eid. Regulate. Don’t ban. Respect traditions,” the author mentioned in one of the tweets.
He also asked “What’s Diwali for children without crackers?” in another tweet. Needless to say, he received a lot of flak, with popular personalities like Shashi Tharoor stepping in.
Hyderabad, which has been working towards eco-friendly means to celebrate festivals — for example, clay idols during Ganesh Chaturthi — seems to share the same idea about the festival of lights too.
Filmmaker Nandini Reddy reckons that it is about time we work towards measures in tune with the reality. “A lot of things have changed from mine and Chetan Bhagat’s childhood. Crackers aren’t that affordable anymore. On top of that, we are dealing with several environmental consequences,” she says.
Nandini feels that children these days are suffering from a number of respiratory issues starting with asthma, something that was unheard of in her childhood.
The director also says that the reality around us has changed. “In the name of tradition and childhood, instead of clinging on to certain notions, there are other things we can do — like a community celebration where instead of celebrating individually, share the festivities thereby cutting down on air pollution. Or switch off all the lights and fans, light diyas in the house and spend some quality time together, keeping the gadgets aside,” she suggests.
If some people feel the ban is an extreme step, then we must remember that extreme times call for extreme measures, concludes Nandini.
Internationally acclaimed designer Ganesh Nallari says it is ideal to hit the middle ground, where we get to preserve the essence of the festival, as well as keep a tab on the consequences.
“What is tradition? Whatever we do today can become a tradition tomorrow. Diwali without firecrackers is definitely going to be incomplete and it would be selfish on our part if the next generation do not get to experience it,” says Ganesh.
However, keeping the environmental issues in mind, the designer believes that it is important to screen the firecrackers that flood the market, identify those that emit toxic substances the most and cut their sales.
He reminds us that Diwali is not the only festival where we burst crackers.
“It is not only humans but also animals who get adversely affected. Think about the noise pollution we create. Science has advanced so much that I think it must be possible to manufacture crackers that emit least carbon monoxide and make less noise,” he suggests.