Where is THAT Diwali?

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Nov 2018 11:09:35


Vijay Phanshikar,

Those were the days when a rupee could buy much more than today’s Rs. 50/- Those were, therefore, the days when fire-crackers worth Rs. 100/- were much bigger in quantity than what today’s Rs. 10,000/- can buy. And in most homes, fire-crackers worth hundreds of rupees were burst without any fear of pollution of air or noise. In those days more than sixty years ago, Diwali in Nagpur was not just a miserly event that does not last even full five days; it was a festival that was celebrated at least one week before Laxmi Pujan and one week afterwards. Or to be more precise, Diwali ended officially with Tripuri Pournima that came full fifteen days after Laxmi Pujan. Each day, in those wonderful days in our childhood was full of sweet and salted snacks, new clothes, and fire-crackers every evening to everybody’s heart’s content.

Let me assert, today’s Diwali is a terribly poor affair not because there is any less money than people had in those good good old days, but because the people have acquired poor minds in the process of  modernisation. We have much more money than we ever had in those days, but we have developed sinister ways of messing up that great festival by applying nonsensical standards that stem from western mediocrity.

In those days, even when the whole of Nagpur enjoyed fire-crackers every day for weeks on end, there was no air-pollution and no noise pollution. In fact, many families would go for late evening walks after bursting countless quantities of fire-crackers and consuming loads of snacks at
dinner time. And even though that time would be just about an hour after the fire-crackers stopped bursting, the air used to be clean and none of us ever used handkerchief to cover our mouth and nose and face.

This was also almost the condition until ten years ago. But then came a conspiratorial design to debunk Diwali, and the ghost of pollution was made to raise its ugly head. And none of these pseudo-intellectuals who blame the fire-crackers for pollution wants to consider even the clear
possibility of other factors such as industrial pollution or vehicular pollution that have taken the toll of environment.

One’s heart aches with this degradation of our thought-process in the name of modernisation and fake concerns for environment.

I remember one Diwali when we lived in Sitabuldi on the Main Road. Because of his busy medical practice, Father could not spare time to buy fire-crackers for us. There was no cane basket with loads of fire-crackers in the back seat of his car when he returned home. We were sorely
disappointed. But the next morning, a bigger basket came with bigger loads of fire-crackers. There also was another basket that was loaded with sweet and salted snacks for us. Believe me, we consumed those snacks smack in three days, and the fire-crackers in two, ready again to ask for more. Our parents who were greater environmentalists than any of those people who appear on television screens every day blaming things on fire-crackers. But they never objected to fire-crackers. And the reason was simple, fire-crackers per se did not pollute the air.

And let me tell you that fire-crackers in those days did not
carry obnoxious materials as do today’s versions. For, in those days, the authorities were far more vigilant than today’s ones and maintained better standards of environment protection. That was the reason none blamed Diwali for pollution.

But Ab Ganga Ulti Bahati Hai -- in the same manner as Ulti Khopdi of fake environmentalists. Crackers were there then and crackers are here now. Then, there was no pollution, and now everything is polluted. Unfortunately, none of us realises that the biggest polluted place is our mind. We have messed up Diwali since we don’t know how to celebrate it. We sacrificed simplicity to accommodate complexity. So, instead of burning those cools oil lamps -- Diyas -- we have electric series of lamps with different colours. We have never paused to think that the loss of that golden cool glow (from the oil lamps) that actually soothed our eyes and our cluttered heads. We have sacrificed the great tradition of buying new clothes to everybody in the family on Diwali, for we can buy those on any day throughout the year.

Shops were there in those days as well, as they are here today. But most purchases took place during Diwali celebrations. So is the condition with sweet and salted snacks. Mothers and grandmothers and aunts made all those during Diwali and the whole family feasted on those for weeks on end. Now, we just walk into the corner store and buy those.  There is nothing wrong in this as well. For, good commerce is an  integral part of Diwali. But in those days, we understood a better meaning of the concept of Laxmi that stood for not just money but for happiness, collectivism, accommodation. So, Diwali was never celebrated by one family in each home. It was celebrated in the whole locality by the whole community -- rich and poor together.

Where is that Diwali? -- may I ask.