Have a Hearty Diwali
Diwali is an annual occasion to weigh the banes and boons of rituals we practice and their effects on our health and environment, and to discover new ways to do old things better.
There is no escaping the fact that crackers and fireworks are damaging to health and environment no matter how hard we try to justify using them by evoking ‘tradition’ or ‘concern’ for those who work in that industry as arguments.
Air pollution worsens several-fold around Diwali. Levels of noxious gases such as sulphur-dioxide go up by 200 percent. Crackers spew nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, fumes and pollutants to astonishing levels, triggering smoke and fog.
The air-pollutants cause smarting of eyes, soreness of the throat, cough and wheezing. It is a bad time for those with bronchial asthma as they often come down with acute attacks at this time. For some, this is the time when they have their first attacks of asthma.
The sudden loud noise of crackers can cause ear-drums to burst. Startling sounds can also cause heart attacks, especially in the elderly and in those with heart ailments.
Crackers and fireworks are the cause of burns and accidents, whose frequency shoots up around Diwali. ‘Rockets’ and ‘annars’ have this terrible habit of occasionally going off-course, hitting people or entering homes through open windows.
Sweets and eats, an integral part of Diwali, are loaded with calories and the practice of offering and eating ‘mithais’ makes weight and blood sugar levels go haywire.
Are there any boons for celebrating Diwali at all then?
Yes. In fact the benefits are huge, but have to do primarily with our minds and hearts.
Studies have shown that families and friends who fast, feast, pray and celebrate festivals together, more often stay together! Family rituals involve symbolic communication and help generate feelings of ‘this is who we are’ as a group. Traditions also provide continuity in meaning across generations. There is often an emotional imprint where the individual may replay it in memory to recapture some of the positive experience.
Diwali, the foremost festival of most Indians should therefore be celebrated with great emotional passion. These are the occasions that we tend to remember in life, and that
help us to acquire our sense of identity, and make us realize that there is meaning beyond work and duty in life.
Wish you a happy Deepawali that lights up your hearts and lives!