Traditionally, the Trehan household erupts in a frenzy of light, sound and colour every Diwali. Crackers worth thousands of rupees are lit, the walls glow with enough mirchi lights to brighten up an entire village and kaleidoscopic rangolis brighten every corner of the house.
But this year, 24-year-old Nidhi, is excited about a different idea - an environment-friendly Diwali. "It's a festival, not a tamasha," Nidhi points out. "We will not buy eardrum-bursting crackers or use chemical rangolis and definitely not waste electricity on those blinding lights."
There might not be too many families like the Trehans, but a good many people are ensuring that the festival of lights is not an assault on the senses (and Mother Nature) this year. Party planners are organising more eco-friendly parties. "We plan everything - from the kind of rangoli to the flower decorations ," says Anisha V Rastogi, a Delhi-based planner. "Green-themed Diwali parties are becoming quite common and are a good change."
But throwing one can be a tricky thing. "Serving food on paper plates is not as eco-friendly as you think," says Savita Vijayakumar an eco-crusader from No2CO2. "The recycle value of paper goes down once it gets wet and most of it gets wasted. Serve food on areca leaf plates instead. It is more traditional as well."
Thinking about the climate and resources shouldn't be just a Diwali concern, but it's a good enough start. "It is more of a style statement rather than actual awareness, but I am not complaining," says Varsha Pendhekar, a Mumbai-based environmental activist. If you believe the festival is the first step to a greener life, here's help.
Decorate your house with fresh flowers and leaves. Apart from marigolds, use jasmine and red roses to add colour and natural fragrance to your house. Also, while gifting idols, ditch the ones made of plaster of Paris, plastic and thermocol and opt for biodegradable materials like clay and papier mache
Avoid chemical-based rangoli colours. Use natural colours and dyes like rice flour, turmeric powder, kumkum, lime, petals, coal and leaves. Keep looking around for different flowers that could be used for bringing more colour into your design
Let there be light
If you're just getting started on your Diwali decorations, ditch the energy-gobbling fairy lights for LED versions that last longer, turn out to be more economical in the long run and consume less energy. If you want to save even more energy, opt for diyas and candles fuelled by scented beeswax. They'll create a great ambience for the festivities. Also, after you have fried your batch of gujiyas and pakodas for your party, don't throw the oil. Instead, use it to light up diyas
Reuse old wrapping paper or use newspaper to wrap gifts. If that doesn't sound too exciting, you can also use handmade paper which is free of chemicals and toxins. Also, while throwing a party, use your own cutlery. You can also use plates made of leaves. Say no to plastic cups, plates and bowls. And say never again to styrofoam flatware. Not only do they look dowdy, they'll be choking the earth long after you've bit the dust
If you must burst crackers, get everyone involved. Ask everyone in your building, society or colony to pool in money and buy fireworks. Gather everyone at a fixed time and burst them. This way, you will not only save money but create noise pollution only at one particular time
From HT Brunch, November 11
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch