The overwhelming sense of fear is palpable. Every breath you take fills your lungs with treacherous venom. Aching cries tear through the whooshes, sputters and bangs to sting your heart. Callous cackles roister in the spree of utter destruction. The baneful 'festival' of Diwali is upon us and the Devil's kingdom is gearing up for a field party. Sanity is sacrificed for mundanity enabling the imps to take over human bodies. Let the havoc begin!
The celebration of Diwali per se is a gross violation of everything that I've ever stood up for- free thought, animal rights, human rights and environmental welfare. Thousands of stray animals are killed, many more rendered hearing impaired and/or physically disabled. The natural daily routine of birds is disturbed and many endure severe psychological trauma. A heavy smog drapes the streets on Diwali night and the days that follow. The levels of Sulphur Nitrate, Magnesium, Nitrogen Trioxide reach several times the permissible levels. Home arrest is imposed upon pets, elderly people and people with allergies and sensitivities. To asthmatics, Diwali is potentially fatal. One Diwali night causes as much damage to the ecology as regular pollution does over the span of an entire year.
The ones mentioned above are only a few of the consequences of the celebrations. Other include noise pollution, the garbage generated and the human accidents. And I haven't even come to the manufacturing process of fireworks yet. Children, forced into employment by the fireworks industry based in Sivakasi, have to work overtime during Diwali under tyrant employees with no safety regulations. Many innocent children lose their hand, legs and eyes. Many are maimed for life. Their wages are pitiful and are certainly not worth the torture imposed upon them. This is child exploitation, plain and simple.
What vexes me the most is that the supposedly compassionate people indulge in such frivolous behavior without a second thought. The environmentalists, social workers, vegans, animal rights activists, feminists all are victims of this tradition and social norm. The triumph of good over evil is celebrated by turning evil.
Mediocre minds all over the world throng the markets in preparation of the most widely celebrated Hindu festival. They buy neatly packed boxes of firecrackers embellished with pictures of shapely women(Sexism, don't get me started on that). The apathetic public revels in the devastation they are going to cause. The pathetic facet of humanity is laid bare for all to see. Violent, tumultuous and disorderly, human nature prevails over the delicately disposed environment. Diwali may well be the most destructive religious festival ever, although it faces serious competition from others like Bakrid, Durga Puja and Thanksgiving. Humans, apparently, can get away with anything done in the name of religion and God. And all they seem to do is destroy. Isn't it time for us to evolve as a race, as a species to try and co-exist with other animals, nature and our planet?
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.