Sunday, November 13, 2005


Fading festivities of lights …

I don’t know if I am the only one who’s feeling this … I was home this diwali and it couldn’t have been better place to be at that time… I reached on dhanteras evening… it was a long journey…

I still remember on dhanteras, entire market used to be decorated and lit up with variety of lights and the speakers used to shout the religious / bhakti songs… the traffic were restricted to pedestrians only … the shops used to be packed with people… all sorts of people… from kids to grannies… in best of their dresses … and most of all… with a cheerful and happy festive mood … this time it was different however…

When I joined dad with the evening ‘official’ shopping (Lakshmi-Ganesh idols and silver coins)… the roads were filled with trash… there were a bit too many vendors on street … however, the shops were relatively empty … there were folks on the streets … but with a gloomy outlook … not many kids around… no lightings… the speakers were shouting of local ads … (one of the ads were of coaching instts for class X and XII… heights of commercialization) … the lightings at the top of houses were also not so many… the bursting of crackers were not there … almost … it was never such emptiness…

The next days were not too different… the sound of crackers slowly were beginning to be heard… but again sporadic… however, the Diwali day was still better… people on the streets were more decked up… and sweet shops were having tough time handling customers…

There are two things that came up prominence reasons for the lack of excitement of the festival… one of the major factor was the prominence of nuclear families…(even in the small town like mine) … most of these families have there sons/daughters out of home… resulting in virtually ‘no families’ … and celebration without family has actually no meaning… moreover, if we look into our pasts… the festivities were so munch enjoyed when there were so many people around… today that’s not there… 4-5 members in a house… and a few friends… so the amount of enjoyment anyways reduces… further… these families are so busy in their daily life that these festivals just offer simply a means of another holiday….

Another factor which came upfront was easy access to short term money… most of our earlier shopping used to happen over diwali (or similar festival)… and the companies also ran a lot of promotion… people used to save to buy house holds /white goods… however, with today’s easy access to money … courtesy easy loans and other financial schemes… people just don’t wait for diwali to come… they shop as and when they find a need … resulting in a huge amount of debt … specially for a salaried class… the savings becomes nil by the time he finishes of the last monthly due… and therefore… diwali is meaningless as he just don’t have enough to spend a dime extra… so low turnouts on the streets too… just a ceremonial touch with small section of crackers… (with due respect to our environmentalists… we don’t have too many of that too)…

I hope at least this ceremonial stuff continues… as I fear these festivities will disappear by the time next few generations comes…

I disagree dude...
Yup the sound of the crackers is down.. but thats coz the ppl are aware..
If its christmas for the rest of the world.. Its diwali for india...
Hi Abhishek :)

Happen to view your blog thru my visiter tracker and happy to see my page linked to yours...

Bit busy right now, will try later to read your posts...

Keep going... :)
Fetivities are what makes festivals beautiful. Hope they don't just fade away.
When will the human race learn to accept change?

That apart, I was back from Blr on Diwali day and saw a lot of activity speeding through Delhi in the taxi. Lots of firecrackers, lots of illumination, crowds, the works.

I don't condone all this, of course. With people crying themselves hoarse over shortages of water, electricity, onions and what have you, and everyone and their uncle cribbing about pollution levels, how can anyone justify resources being spent on putting up strings of lights for no apparent purpose and blowing up of millions of rupees worth of crackers?

The fact that so many people do it (for 'fun') only shows me that nobody really cares. It encourages me to spend whatever money I have in whichever way it pleases me without worrying about the consequences to others or to the future. I'm going to buy that big fuel-guzzling SUV, and leave all my PCs on during the day when I am at work, and start throwing waste paper all over the place.

It's not a quetion of accepting the change... things change and people do too...

what people are doing is trying to being in some hope and happiness in their desparate lives... not everyone has opportunity to spend as you wish to... those have do flaunt it... and actually do what you plan to! what i am speaking of is the middle class... who don't have too many opportunities to be happy/excited/hopeful/beyond the thoughts of daily miseries (water, electicity,pollution)... for them Diwali is not merely a festival... it's a prayer.

most importantly not all change is good!
Well... I couldn't have agreed more. The festivities are dimmed out - not having crackers in a way os a welcome step but the other festivities should go on.
Again, I don't think we can blame the emergence of Nuclear families. Nuclear Families were there even in our childhood but I remember many families used to come together - one would go to his/her relaives' place and gather up together and celebrate big - lots of sweets, lots of food and lots of gup-shup and dicussion.
But suddenly I find that the tradition of going to relatives' place has discontinued. Reasons:
1. Academic pressures - school scheduling exams just next day to Bhai Dooj
2. Work Pressures - people not allowed a decent 5 day leave in pvt companies to plan an elaborate trip or festivity
3. Individualism - People nowadays prefer going for liesure tours during 'school-vacations' (summers) rather than visiting relatives.

Agreed that Pollution is on the rise, but I think our industries (esp. those which have low productivity) are responsible more for it than crackers. Crakcers are burst once in a year and along with other festivities, they are a big stress buster for millions in India (esp the low-income grp).
Nevertheless, we should move to a cleaner Diwali but let us do that by encouraging constructive reuse of waste - developing eco-friendly crackers (more light + less sound + complete combustability) and not by banning their use.
1. not a quetion of accepting the change

It doesn't look that way. Everyone sounds like this: "oh, for the good old days", "things were much better when I was young", etc. I'm not specifically targetting your post or the comments here, but I have been deluged with such things during the holidays and I have been longing to lash out with a "things change, deal with it" kind of statement :)

2. hope and happiness in their desparate lives

How many of these people are better off in any way the morning after all their crackers are gone? If I was leading a hopeless and desperate life, the last thing on my mind would be to burn up money (because that is what it is, all said and done) for a moment's excitement. There are much better ways to celebrate, including getting together with the family, lighting a token lamp, making sweets, perhaps even indulging in prayer to whichever god they believe in, reading hymns and propagating the spirit behind the festival. For all those who miss the good old days, THIS was how your ancestors celebrated festivals and not by putting up loudpseakers with film songs and bursting crackers and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

3. not all change is good

Accepted, and I did not mean to imply that it was either. Change should be accepted when you are making a compromise, e.g. living away from your family so that you have a good job.


To your list of reasons, I would add another one - the fact that people are now less tolerant of relatives who don't behave themselves, make jibes at one another and talk ill of you behind your back. I see a lof of young people who would rather spend time with their own friends than be involved in going to visit their uncle-ji's and aunty-ji's.

4. our industries (esp. those which have low productivity) are responsible more for it than crackers

Accepted, but do you think someone who doesn't care about the pollution directly under his control is going to care about industrial pollution? Whatever happened to "every drop in the ocean counts"? Are you not being hypocritical when you protest industrial pollution but accept firecracker pollution because you get some excitement out of it? Some numbers:
95 per cent of the crackers available in the market violate noise and air pollution norms
Thanks to crackers, pollution levels of Delhi rose to 10 times the permissible limit on Diwali day 2002
Estimates from 1997 indicate that in Delhi alone, an additional 4,000 metric tonnes of garbage, comprising burnt paper and chemicals like phosphorous, sulphur and potassium chlorate, were released

If the govt can ban dance bars in Mumbai, I see no reason why they can't ban firecrackers too :D
Hi abhishek,
I feel crackers should be banned because they cause so much of pollution.... and talking about the decrease in the celebration, yes I agree. The festival mood has disappeared in many places...
Hope it doesn't continue this way
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