Fireworks ban: A citizen’s perspective

When you have some 11,297 persons living in a square kilometer in Delhi and on an average 70% of them would burn firecrackers, with some 50 lakh kgs of fireworks stocked in and around Delhi NCR, one wonders if we are preparing for the ‘festival of light’ or ‘festival of pollution’? And please don’t give me the deal about Hinduism. I am a practicing hindu who waits entire year for Diwali. For me Diwali means, wearing new clothes, spending time with family, cooking traditional poori-sabzi and kheer, making rangoli, doing the laxmi pooja (and praying fervently to Goddess Laxmi to bless me the year round), meeting friends and family and exchanging gifts and of course a lot of laughter.

I have always been scared of loud noises and even though Diwali is my favourite festival (not too much of a holi person, you see) and having met with a terrible cracker accident when my husband was burning that blue atom bomb thingy, some hot pellet-like thing hit right below my eye, leaving me thankfully, not blind, but scarred for life. Even now, the sound of loud cracker, leaves me terrified to the extent that I don’t want to attend a marriage primarily because there will be fireworks.

So why am I going on and on about my not-so-important saga of a scarred Diwali when I should be talking about the firecracker ban that Supreme Court imposed yesterday. At the outset, let me inform that the Petition filed was seeking wide range of reliefs against use of fireworks (including fire crackers) as also prevention of harmful crop burning, dumping of malba and other steps towards environmental purity. The ban on fireworks was but one of the reliefs sort as part of interim relief, with prayer to ban it for just one Diwali. I have always believed that saddi dilliwallas have always been so large-hearted as to give that much concession.

This was of course recognized by the Court too when they observed in the Order while outlining the duty of the citizen, ‘..the duty of the state to ensure a healthy environment in terms of Article 48A of the Constitution of India as well as the duty of the citizens to ensure the same under Article 51A(g) of the Constitution.’

I remember one of the steps taken during last Diwali by Supreme Court was to direct Schools, NGOs and Government of NCT to take steps to promote ‘Green Diwali’. My niece all of 7 then, did not even touch a phuljhari telling us how she was observing a ‘Green Diwali’. She suffers from respiratory problem and especially around Diwali, she requires nebulizer to be able to breathe.

I know a lot of religious colour is also being given to this whole firework ban but today in Supreme Court, a fellow Advocate who happens to be a Muslim said to me, ‘My children are so disappointed that they cannot burn firecrackers this year, that is what they wait for the year round, with so much enthusiasm.’ I understand each religion has their traditions, some good, some bad. And it reminds me that in the aforementioned order of fireworks ban, the Hon’ble Court observed that, ‘Thus, there is virtually a consensus in the society that crackers should not be burnt during Diwali, which can be celebrated with equal fervor by various other means as well. Irony is that when causes are brought in the Court, there is resistance from certain quarters. It cannot be denied that there are adequate statutory provisions, aid whereof can be taken to ban the sale of these crackers. It is one of the functions of the judges, in a democracy, to bridge the gap between law and society. Here, fortunately, there is no such gap and the Court is only become facilitator in invoking the law to fulfill the need of the society.’

So instead of giving me the argument that it is a ‘knee-jerk reaction’, ‘ban should have been imposed in phased out manner’ or that ‘when you ban, the citizenry becomes defiant’ or the over-used ‘it is a war against hinduism’, please look at it as one Diwali which will be ‘Green Diwali’ where we will be upholding the Hindu tradition of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and away from the prevalent tradition of ‘Me-before-You’.

Happy Diwali everyone! May you have a beautiful, Green Diwali just this once!

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