Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has organised a community Diwali show from 26 October to 29 October at Connaught Place. The celebrations will include laser shows – scheduled from 6 pm to 10 pm – special lighting on all buildings, cultural performances, food and handicraft shopping stalls. Similar measures to curb bursting of polluting firecrackers will be taken in Noida as well.
ThePrint asks: Will the idea of community Diwali stop people from bursting crackers outside homes?
Providing families of all classes with an option to celebrate Diwali together will ensure greater community spirit
Special Correspondent, ThePrint
You must have heard the popular saying, “Our happiness increases when we celebrate it with others.” The idea of celebrating a ‘community Diwali’ is an extension of the same line of thought. And of course, it will also reduce bursting of crackers.
Diwali has been traditionally associated with celebrations at home, that include house cleaning and decoration followed by Lakshmi puja and cracker bursting.
Indians hardly have an excuse to go out on Diwali nights, excerpt perhaps for dinner. Providing families of all social classes with an option to celebrate Diwali together with fellow Indians will ensure greater community spirit. It will excite children and teenagers too and distract them from bursting crackers.
Moreover, people will become image-conscious while celebrating Diwali in a community. You can’t obnoxiously burst crackers when the family next to you is teaching their children not to. This move will spread awareness among others. One would never want to show his or her community that he/she is happy to contribute to air pollution.
The only catch is that the community celebrations should be exciting enough to match people’s expectations. Otherwise, the idea will not sustain for long.
In Modi-fied India, it won’t take long for a noble concept like this to be seen as an attack on Hindu rights
Special Correspondent, ThePrint
Community Diwali, a concept where people gather at a common place like a park or a street and celebrate the festival together by lighting diyas, candles, dressing up, eating sweets but not bursting sounds like the ideal situation, doesn’t it? But it’s not that easy to achieve. Arvind Kejriwal’s plan sounds great, but it is not likely to stop people from bursting crackers outside their houses anyway.
One has to understand the genesis of the festival of Diwali. Mythologically, Rama returned home in Ayodhya after an exile and people welcomed him by lighting diyas and bursting crackers. And that’s what most Hindus do on Diwali – light diyas and burst crackers. Take any of it away from people, and they will flash their religion card.
In the age of Modi-fied India, where everything is related to nationalism and religion, it won’t take long for a noble concept like this to be seen as an attack against the festive spirit and the right of Hindus to celebrate the way they want to.
AAP govt must take its initiative forward by encouraging people to opt for ‘community travel’ too
The narrative of pseudo-secularism vs Hindu festivals has become so strong that any political party will think twice before implementing a cracker ban, even for a noble cause like preventing pollution.
That is why the AAP government of Delhi is trying to find another way to dissuade people from bursting crackers and involving them in community celebrations of Diwali.
It will be apt to recall V. Shantaram’s film Do Aankhen Barah Haath. The Kejriwal government is, in a similar fashion, trying to ‘reform’ the ‘bully public’ on the issue of pollution. At the moment, both the level of pollution and the level of festival rhetoric are at an all-time high. Although Diwali demands compassion, the opposite is happening. The underprivileged are the primary victims of pollution.
The government must take its initiative forward by encouraging people to opt for ‘community travel’ (carpools, public transport) to reduce air pollution.
Community involvement was one of the first agendas of the Aam Aadmi Party. It suits their narrative too.
Odd-even scheme or community Diwali won’t curb pollution until laws are strong enough
Chief Sub-Editor, ThePrint
Pollution has become a big problem for not only Delhi-NCR, but India as a whole. But still the country seems obsessed with the pollution levels of Delhi, perhaps because it is the capital.
The Aam Aadmi Party government is quite pro-active in tackling this problem and keeps announcing innovative experiments. The odd-even transport rationing and community Diwali are just some of them.
But sadly, none of them can be expected to solve the problems of Delhi-NCR because the existing laws and rules aren’t strong enough.
For many in Delhi-NCR, driving fast through the red lights and bursting crackers at odd hours are a common thing. Last year, the Supreme Court had set a strict deadline of two hours for bursting crackers, but still Delhiites had burst crackers through the night. If pollution has to be reduced, the law needs to be toughened.
A strong law on the lines of the new Motor Vehicles Act needs to be enacted to curb pollution and fine those who break rules. The transport system has improved a lot after the hefty fines under the new Act. Similarly, high levels of pollution can also be checked by imposing heavy penalty on those bursting crackers.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is a community festival and that is how it should be celebrated
Chief Producer, ThePrint
The idea behind celebrating any festival is to spread happiness and that happens only when the entire community or country comes together. Diwali, the festival of lights, is a community festival and that is how it should be celebrated.
Community Diwali will not only stop people from bursting crackers outside their homes, it’ll also foster togetherness and unity. Since Diwali is synonymous with firecrackers, a choreographed and televised firework display at a community centre would attract families.
Through the display, public messages could be spread about harmful effects of firecrackers. Most people today like to go out for celebrations, rather than crowding one house. Food stalls and gaming arcades will be an interactive and economical option for people. People could be allowed to buy and burst limited crackers only at this community space.
Although Arvind Kejriwal’s idea of community celebration is not new, his administration should organise community Diwali in every major pocket of Delhi.
By Taran Deol, journalist at ThePrint
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