Hypocrisy at its best
Extracting the soul out of Diwali
By Amba Charan Vashishth
Fairs and festivals are the very life and soul of a people and a nation. All over the world, these are celebrated with zeal, gaiety, gusto and spirit. If you look at the celebrations and the rituals observed on such occasions, one would laugh and snide at some of them. Some look injurious to the society's health. Such things are not in tune with the present day thinking. Yet, these are observed religiously all over the world. And these should be!
In India, two festivals of Diwali and Holi are times when one goes riot with joy while playing with fireworks, distributing sweets and gift. Holi is a crack of colours, people going wild with joy. These are the festivals which transcend the contours of caste, creed, sex, colour and region. In both the festivals the crackers, the fireworks, sweets and colours are the very life and soul. If one takes out fireworks and colours out of these festivals, these are rendered colourless, odourless, devoid of fun and merrymaking. These then become a body without a spine and soul.
But, of late, some liberals, social 'reformers' wish to deprive Diwali of its mirth by calling for a cracker-less Diwali and a Holi robbed of its colours. They argue that bursting of firecrackers on Diwali "raises air and sound pollution levels to an alarming high…. and levels of noxious gases ……rise to hazardous levels". But does it, in their great thoughts, exist only in the Hindu way of life that is suffering from 'ills' of their thinking? Do crackers raise the level of "air and sound pollution" only on the Diwali day and playing Holi is harmful only during the Holy festival and not on other occasions?
Do other faiths not have rituals and customs that are obnoxious to the eye and heart when performed in public places? Do crackers not raise the levels of "air and sound pollution" high when these are burst at political party functions and victories? Every other day, political parties play Holi on the occasion of the victory of their party and leaders. Recently, the air in Chennai was raised to high levels of pollution when DMK workers and leaders burst crackers when Miss Jayalalitha was jailed and, later, on their turn by AIDMK leaders and workers when she was released?
Only those political and social leaders have the moral right to talk of "air and sound pollution" when they first ban cracking of firecrackers one the occasion of their own and their party's win in elections. When there is a marriage or other function in their own houses. Otherwise, it is only hypocrisy.
People are put to great inconvenience when religious and social processions, like on marriage, are taken out on the busy roads of cities. Protest demonstrations also raise the level of "noise pollution" in the area through which they pass. Even plying of motor vehicles raises the level of "air and noise" pollution. In certain small markets, the hawkers raise a great noise to attract customers. Loudspeakers installed in religious places blare unwanted songs and teachings in the area they are situated.
Unless our social reformers and administrators succeed in preventing such "air and sound pollution" they have no right to preach for asking people not to burst crackers and fireworks on Diwali and use colours on Holi.
At the same time, there is need to take precautions that such bursting is not careless and does not cause injury to an individual and property. Further, the colours used during Holi are safe and cause no harm to the body, ear, nose and eyes. ***