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Diwali-Crackers-Store-DisplayOct 17 is going to be a big day in India. The festival of lights, Diwali or Deepavali is going to be celebrated.

(Note: Diwali is not India’s Independence day. Our Independence Day falls on August 15th.)

Diwali is an important festival for the Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. But it is a festival that is celebrated by the entire country. In places like Bombay (Mumbai), where I grew up, everyone joined in. Buildings were lined with diyas (oil-fueled-tiny-clay lamps), children got together to have fun with fireworks, sweets were distributed among friends and relatives. It is generally a fun time and schools and offices had holidays.

But over the years, I have grown weary of the firecrackers. They are the noise-making fireworks. Just a lot of noise. In fact, I remember last year, Chennai sounded like a city at war around Diwali.

The picture above is taken at a store in Chennai and those are fireworks on sale. If you enlarge the image, you will see how creative firework companies get when naming their products. There’s actually a box that is called “Dog Fight” in there. I definitely don’t want to hear how that sounds!

And since these fireworks are burst on the road, they make a mess of the place, with burnt paper and whatever stuff is used to make these pollutants.

austin-4-july-fireworks

July 4th Fireworks Display in Austin, Texas (2008)

To solve this problem (I am not sure how many see it as a problem in India), I would recommend the system I have seen in the US. (Again, I am not sure if this is a prescribed system there..but I think it would work.) A common place where people could gather and watch a stunning fireworks display. The fire power could either be pooled in together and arranged as a major fireworks display (like the 4th of July celebration) or we could have smaller groups spread across the city doing the same thing.

Of course, this would bring questions about pollution and related issues like RSPM (respirable suspended particulate matter). But that is something the government can look into and I hope they do.

Request: If you are going to burst firecrackers this year, the least you can do is clean up the mess you make, the morning after. Thank you.

Can we try make this year’s Diwali a real festival of lights and not noise? What do you think?