Setting off firecrackers is not an Indian culture and
tradition : Dr Birbal Jha
Deepawali, an annual autumn festival of lights
falling on the darkest night of the Hindi month Kartik coinciding with English
October-November has to do more with science and environment. Apart from the
festival speaking about Indian spiritualism, Hindu religion and community life,
it seeks to make our houses and surroundings fit to live in concerning
sanitation and cleanliness.
In cyclical nature, what comes after the rainy season is the
good of autumn which, however, inherits a plethora of wastes and weeds breeding
flies, insects and reptiles. All these somehow pose a threat to human
inhabitation. Deepawali is so designed as to steer clear of all of them and make
our habitation disease-free and worth living.
India is a land of spiritualism where the Deepawali is
celebrated with the divine concept of victory of light over darkness, good over
evil and knowledge over ignorance.
In this light, it stands to reason that there should be no
room for pyrotechnics, firecrackers and other explosives during the festivity.
“Moreover, setting off firecrackers had not been a part of
Indian culture, civilization and tradition of celebrations. It is the
commercialization and globalization of firecrackers which has made inroads into
India, hitting hard the country’s philosophy, ethos and rituals.
Until India was invaded, the country had no knowledge of
gunpowder used in fireworks which were though invented in China where the
cultural practice was to scare and drive away evil spirits during their
cultural events and festivals.
The credit or discredit goes to Babur who brought
gunpowder in India.
The use of black powder gave Mughals technical advantage in terms of weapons.
Fireworks containing an explosive mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur with typical proportions of 75:15:10 are now used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes in the country.
Deepawali, a row of lights celebrated after the eighteen
days after Dussehra, a ten daylong celebration. What follows the next is Chhath
wherein the surrounding of a water body like a pond, a river as the Yamuna in
Delhi and the Ganga in Patna is cleaned and a prayer is offered to the Sun God
at the stroke of sundown and sunup.
Given the pollution level of Delhi and National
Capital Region (NCR), the Supreme Court of India rightly passed an order to
curb the use of firecrackers for the betterment of citizens’ life. Moreover,
untoward incidences of people burning their hands and bodies because of
celebratory fireworks have been sordid reports every year wherein children have
been the worst victims.
The tradition of celebrating Hukkaloli on Deepawali Day has
been very specific natural in Mithila,
a part of Bihar where Goddess Sita was incarnated in treta, one of the four
epochs. The festival of lights, not firecrackers has been in tradition since
the era of Lord Ram.
Dr Birbal Jha is the noted author, Managing Director Lingua Multiservices Pvt Ltd having a popular Trademark brand British Lingua and Chairman of Mithilalok Foundation working for Socio-economic and Cultural Development. He is credited as having created a revolution in English training in India with slogan English for all. Further, he has been accorded the status of the ‘Youngest Living Legend of Mithila’.
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