Diwali in the New Normal: Smoke Free and Green


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Simon Sinek’s theory of the Golden Circle states that people must understand the WHY, HOW, and WHAT of any given situation. The WHY explains the purpose of the situation, which provides context and allows the audience to make informed decisions. The HOW indicates the process by which the situation is handled. Finally, the WHAT represents the product, the popular connotation of the situation, or what you can do to contribute to the situation.


WHY did we start celebrating Diwali traditionally? 

Diwali, traditionally known as Deepavali, is the popular Hindu festival of lights. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and represents the darkness (ignorance) being chased away by the light (enlightenment). Among practitioners of Hinduism, there are two different ‘versions’ of Diwali. North Indian practitioners celebrate Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, and South Indian practitioners celebrate Krishna, Satyabhama, and Kali’s triumph over the demon Narakasura. Regardless of context, the sentiment remains the same; Diwali represents new beginnings, and the cleansing of evil and polluted thoughts from our lives and minds.


For practitioners of Sikhism, Diwali’s date is an important one. On the day of Diwali in 1619, their sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, along with 52 other princes, were released from prison. To show their joy, Sikhs decorated the Golden Temple in Amritsar with lights, and the tradition continues to this day. For practitioners of Jainism, Diwali marks the anniversary date of Mahavira’s ascension, or the day he achieved Nirvana (liberation). 


As misinformation is widespread in a country as large as India, we cannot begrudge the uninformed who claim banning firecrackers is anti-religious. Instead, we must educate them about our history*. Muhammad bin Tughlaq was the first Mughal emperor to celebrate a Hindu festival in his court aong with his Hindu wives during his rule. It even continued during Emperor Akbar’s reign; Rang Mahal in Red Fort became the center for the royal celebration known as Jash-e-Chiraghan (festival of lights). Akbar also started the tradition of giving sweets to greet people on Diwali. Ramayana was read in his court during Diwali, which is another reason he bonded so well with the Hindu population during his reign. Shahjahan incorporated Navroz, which is New Year for practitioners of Islam, into Diwali’s festivities, and conducted a joint festival for his empire. He began the Akash Diya tradition for promoting communal harmony, and started a new Diwali tradition: Chappan Thal, with sweets from 56 kingdoms. Aurangzeb continued the tradition of sending sweets to noblemen on Diwali. *(Reference Source: Sabrang.com)


WHY must we celebrate Smoke free Diwali? 

Diwali is widely celebrated, and is one of the most popular festivals for Indians all around the world. It is also well known to foreigners, who are drawn in by the traditional rangoli, striking clothing, and delicious food unique to India. However, over the years, bursting firecrackers has become synonymous with Diwali, which has caused a drastic change in air quality within India. The chemical composition of fireworks has been ‘improved’ to please public demand; as we condone the use of firecrackers, we become accustomed to the noise and air pollution hazards they pose. While we enjoy the thrill that comes from watching the colorful sparkles of Diwali firecrackers, there are people who cannot leave their houses for weeks for fear of suffering from an asthma attack. Firecrackers emit toxic fumes and poisonous (in large, concentrated amounts) gases such as CO2, SO2, NO2, and particulate matter (PM). During Diwali, the level of these gases increases up to 10x more than normal levels, which are already higher than safe levels due to industrial and transport pollution. Air pollution levels peak during winter, as the carbon particulates from firecrackers emit thick clouds of smoke concentrated with potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur, similar to volcanic ash. This dense smog is trapped at lower atmospheric levels and reduces visibility, triggers allergies, causes breathing issues, and may even lead to burn related health hazards due to the high reactivity of potassium and sulfur. Hospital emergency wards are crowded with firecracker-related Diwali accidents. Noise levels also exceed safe levels during Diwali, and are a nuisance for children, the elderly, hospital patients, people with sensitive ears, and an assortment of animals.

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HOW can we celebrate a green Diwali?

  1. Be creative and make your own rangoli powders. Using turmeric, sindoor and such powders from the kitchen and mix with maida for making various colours. I also make playdough with maida, water, some oil and food colours. You can use it to make decorations for the pooja area, laxmi feet at the entrance, ganesh on the door, and many such festive crafts. 
  2. Take a big bowl or Urli (open mouth earthen pot), half fill it with water and design flower rangoli using colourful flowers. It stays good for 2 days but you replace flowers if they change colour. You can also add a few drops of lemongrass or lavender oil for fragrance. 
  3. Use solar lights to illuminate your home, I know they are expensive at present but can be stored for the next occasion and festival and reused. 
  4. Go buy earthen diyas (earthen lamps) from your local potter. They save electricity and also benefit the small shopowner. You can choose to buy coloured or plain ones. Personally, I love to buy the plain ones, soak them in plain water overnight so they don’t soak up oil. Then I put them to dry. Once dried I use acrylic colours to paint the diyas. When the colour dries, I like to glue embellishments just for fun, if time permits that is.  
  5. You can involve children and grandparents at home by encouraging them to reuse old bangles, CDs, ribbons, empty tissue rolls, cardboards, etc. to make Toran (door hangings), wall hangings, lampshades and garden decors.
  6. Repurpose old saree and dupattas for making cushion covers and curtains. You can decorate with sequins, buttons, bells, shells and fabric paints. 
  7. Use eco friendly plates and cutlery made of bamboo, banana leaves, and pattal instead of plastic, styrofoam and aluminum foil. 
  8. Segregate carefully and dispose off your waste properly after the celebrations.
  9. Choose eco-friendly gifts such as home baked cakes, plants, saplings, seed hatchers, hand painted earthen pots and home decorating items made by the local artisans and potters. I wash the empty yogurt containers, paint those from outside and grow small saplings to swap with neighbours and friends. These  also make for simple heartfelt gifts.
  10. Wrap using recycled paper sheets, cut pieces from coloured dupattas in recyclable boxes, hand-written notes and origami crafts for packing and decorating your gifts. 
  11. Serve the Diwali special meal in banana leaves instead of regular plates.
  12. Dance: Since we all have been under lockdown and children have been doing online classes, it has become very monotonous. This Diwali break, we plan to play the genz favourite KPop music and learn the dance steps. It’s a lot of fun when mommy has two left feet and daughter continues to teach.
  13. Offbeat fun: We all love movies and shows. During the Diwali break, we are planning to pitch our tent in the living room and watch movies all night, have snacks & water bottles by our side and imagine as if we are camping outdoors.
  14. Antakshari: My most melodious memories from childhood are playing antakshari. Even now, I always win so that’s my favourite way to engage with family and friends. Plus we allow songs in all languages that makes it more crazy, chaotic and fun.
  15. Practise Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose to cut down the waste produced during festivals. 
  16. Be mindful while shopping. Please don't pick single use plastic packets. Buy in bulk and use as you need. 
  17. Learn a traditional recipe from your grandma or aunt. 
  18. Make a theme for a zoom family meeting on Diwali. Ex; colour coding clothes.
  19. Make a home video for Diwali day activities with running commentary. Your children will be happy to do it. Allow them to add Diwali sparkles using free apps like Adobe spark.
  20. Give: open your heart and share your happiness and blessings. Give diwali special dinner to your building watchman, driver and car wash person. Or Pack them a meal and sweets for their family. Or sponsor their children’s educational needs such as books, stationery kits, dictionaries, toiletries, sanitary supplies whatever their need be. Get them new shoes or phones for their children’s online classes. Donate clothes and winter wear from your household to the needy. It has been a very rough year for all but cruel for many. So be kind.

 

WHAT is your role?

It is our duty to take good care of our home, neighbourhood, city, state, country and Mother Earth now and forever. I believe one person can bring the change and everyone must try their best. Please remember to share and post your pictures celebrating green and eco friendly diwali on social media and do tag @Warriormoms

We have reached a stage, where it is important to develop and design how we should be celebrating the festivals in a community as well as on an individual level. Our ways must be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Therefore, hence forth residents associations and mohalla committees must explain to citizens the laid out policies for any social or festive celebrations. Government agencies should be involved in putting the plan together at the national planning level and devising proper guidelines. Youth must be involved in such planning as they are the front runners and torch bearers leading the country into the 21st century. 

About The Authors:
Anuja Bali: 
Warrior Mom, mother to two teenagers, special educator & counselor, Nichiren Buddhism practitioner, mission to spread ovarian cancer awareness, yellow pages, loves gardening, cooking, baking, music, books, driving.
Follow her at Twitter
Aadi:
12th grader, foodie, singer, loves languages, history and music. Best Daughter, friend, and sister. Enjoys reading and writing. 
About the Initiative: 
Anuja, Bali, Warrior, Moms, Diwali, Gifts, Online, Plants, India, Customized, Combos, Good, Luck, Live, Indoor, Houseplants, Gifting, Green, Rolling, Nature, Warrior Moms, Anuja, Bali, Aadi, Initiative, Earth, Air, Purifying, Fresh, Ceramic, Pots, Corporate, Brand, Company, Eco-friendly
Warrior Moms is a Mothers for Clean Air movement. It’s an action group of mothers from all over India fighting for their children’s birthright to breathe clean air. Recently the Pune chapter has been formed.
To join us please fill out this Form
Take a Smoke free Diwali pledge: 
ECA and APER join hands with Warrior Moms to create awareness about the harmful effects of crackers. Say no to crackers during birthdays, cricket matches, weddings and festivals. 
Here is a simple rhyme to motivate children and spread the message. 
Record it with your child and post it on your Facebook page and Tag 
This year, let’s pledge to celebrate a smoke-free, healthy and safe Diwali. Give our families gift of Clean Air! 
1. *Give a missed call* on *022-6282-0630* 
 to pledge a smoke-free & healthy 
#Diwali2020 #Diwali💚
#DhoomDhamakaWithoutPatakha
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Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author and Rolling Nature doesn't take any responsibility for the same. 

Green Up & Light Up this Diwali! As always Rolling Nature insists on Green Diwali!

About Initiative Earth: Rolling Nature has been working for the environment through several campaigns for past 7 years. We launched an environmental arm “Initiative Earth” in May 2020, to work proactively for Earth with individuals, organizations & policy makers.
Rolling Nature & Initiative Earth kick started the “#LoveNature Campaign” yearly campaign on World Environment Day 2020, which aims at spreading biodiversity conservation awareness including environmental concerns.
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