The markets are full of a confusing variety of firecrackers, lights and lanterns. To help you make up your mind about what to buy this Diwali, we've brought out a review of some of the best products.
The Kejri bomb: This is the hottest selling, most popular bomb in the market. A new item, it gives a very loud bang for your buck. This is a repeater firecracker, giving off a series of bangs, one after the other. One complaint, though, is that the sound diminishes with every succeeding explosion, from the early booms to loud thumps to thuds, then crackles, until it finally hisses away. The bomb's critics say it's made of sub-standard materials, mainly indignation, insinuation and innuendo. Opinion is divided whether it's better than last year's Anna bomb, but some say that was just a water pistol. Rating: Must-Have.
The Gadkari fountain: This is one of the most beautiful items on sale. Although in the market for several years now, it was never very popular, perhaps because of its shape. It burns very brightly, throwing up pseudo-nationalist sparks far and wide before suddenly committing hara-kiri with a bang loud enough to shake any party, including a Diwali one. There have been reports that it also spews out a shower of company directorships, which may account for its immense popularity. Rating: Heavyweight item.
Mamata bomb: This firecracker is a huge crowd-puller, as it rushes off in a tearing hurry with a piercing screech, exploding in all directions indiscriminately. It's very loud, but also risky. Detractors say it's "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". The manufacturers say that's a Maoist quote and part of a global Maoist plot to suppress the bomb. The best part of this firework is the blessed silence that ensues after the racket. Rating: Shock and awe.
Roman candles: This is an item that emits many stars that light up the pseudo-secular sky. There are two related varieties called Sonia and Rahul, the former more Roman than the latter. While these have been around for years, critics say the stars have become rather dim recently and may go out altogether by 2014. Rating: Old favourite.
NaMo turbo-charged rocket: This is a rocket that flies high in the sky, ending in a burst of flamboyant pyrotechnics. It would have soared even higher, but for the drag caused by a flaw in the design-what experts call the Nitish Factor. Not being sure what nit-ish is, I looked it up and found that a nit is "The egg or young form of a louse or other parasitic insect", so nit-ish must be something lousy, a conclusion NaMo supporters vociferously assure me is correct. Critics say this is a dangerous firework to play with, especially for minorities. Rating: The Na stands for Napoleon.
Maya sparklers: Their chief attraction is they come with a free handbag. Rating: The bags are lovely, dark and deep.
Karat ground spinners: It spins furiously in one place throwing out red sparks, digs its own hole and then falls into it. Rating: Aww, so cute.
Manmohan squib: When the fuse is lit, it produces a mumbling, droning sound that goes on and on before it fizzles away, ending with a tame 'phut'. This year, though, they've made it better by getting rid of the Pranab gargle and adding Chidu masala. Rating: Ideal for a noise-free Diwali.
Views expressed by the author are personal