Monday, October 12, 2009

No longer a 'crack'ing Diwali !!!

The year's biggest festival is around the corner, and the festive spirit can be seen and felt everywhere. Most shops on the street are all lighted up, displaying a range of dry fruit boxes and lanterns outside. Shopping malls are choc-a-bloc with people making their Diwali purchases and I am currently getting a SMS every couple of hours or so informing me about the latest deals and discounts on my credit card purchases. Closer home, we spent the Sunday on the traditional Diwali-eve cleaning of the house and Mom has started making the Diwali menu ('pharaal'). All in all, Diwali has well and truly arrived.

But amidst all this, there is one notable difference that can be observed. And that is, the relative in-conspicuousness of fire crackers. And it is not just this year, but has been there for some years now. The DNA newspaper yesterday carried a news story about how the younger generation has turned 'green' and is keeping away from fire-crackers altogether. In fact, it mentioned about how a kid actually did not allow its parents to buy crackers for themselves (the parents !!), much to the latter's annoyance. Not surprisingly, such behavior has badly affected the fire-cracker industry, with a wholesaler estimating sales to go down by as much as 50% this year. In a few years, we might no longer have a fire-cracker industry the way we know it today.

I, for one, welcome this change in attitude in today's generation (quite a change from my generation that pestered their parents to buy the latest atom bombs and flower pots and which started off as early as 5 am on the first day !!). For me, the most beautiful sight in Diwali is to see a home lit by dozens of earthen lamps ('diyaas') and having an even more beautiful 'rangoli' drawn at its entrance. Add to that the wholesome 'pharaal' and other Diwali sweets, and my festival is made. The one Diwali in recent times I remember was during our first year at IIM Bangalore. Then, we had an inter-hostel block decoration competition and about twenty of us spent all afternoon adorning the hostel block building (all three floors of it) with literally hundreds of small 'diyas' and some big ones. The more artistically inclined ones made a lovely rangoli at the block entrance. And then, as the day gave way to the twilight hour, we lighted all the diyas and the hostel was a memorable sight. (unfortunately, I have misplaced the snaps :(. This was followed by a sumptuous dinner at the mess to round off a wonderful day (What is your favourite Diwali moment ??).

So, Diwali has never been about crackers for me. Whenever I have burst crackers, I have always felt that they were, quite literally, like burning hard-earned money in thin air. Their light and noise is fleeting, not to mention the disturbance they cause to elders , babies and animals around us. Contrast this with the glowing light emitted by even the smallest diyaa, that spreads happiness in the heart of whoever sees it. Bring many such diyaas together, arranged in a variety of shapes and positions, and you get a sight to behold. What better way to light up your Diwali ??

So before I sign off, here's wishing a Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year to all my readers and their families and friends. May you all have a safe and fun-filled Diwali and a fantastic new year ahead !! And yes, try and stay away from the crackers ;-)



Lakshmi said...

Happy Diwali to your family and you, Amit... :)

Amit Gokhale said...

Thanks a lot Lakshmi !!! Wish you guys a Happy Diwali too !!.. How do you celebrate there in Atlanta ?