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Delhi’s kids show the way, say no to crackers for a clean Diwali

Many children across the National Capital Region have set the record straight by refusing to use crackers this festive season.

delhi Updated: Oct 29, 2016 23:27 IST
A Mariyam Alavi
Diwali
Many children across the National Capital Region have set the record straight by refusing to use crackers this festive season.(Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times)

Adults usually cite children as a reason for bursting crackers during Diwali, despite the effect on air quality, noise pollution levels, and one’s health.

But many children across the National Capital Region have set the record straight by refusing to use crackers this festive season.

“I want to celebrate a green Diwali with diyas, lights and rangoli. The city looks beautiful with lights, but pollution spoils the fun,” said third grader Aryaman Bharadwaj from Vaishali, Ghaziabad.

While adults continue to indulge their children’s requests for crackers, some lead the way for a cracker-free Diwali.

‘Let there be light’

Advaita Vijan (7)

Advaita Vijan says crackers cause pollution.

Young Advaita has decided not to burst crackers after her two-year old sibling was hospitalised for respiratory problems earlier his year.

“Bursting crackers is bad. The pollution has very bad effects,” she said.

Since Advaita’s sister’s developed respiratory problems, the family has been extra cautious, said their father, Sachin Vijan. “We even considered moving out of the city,” he said.

Advaita will pay heed to her teacher’s word of caution against crackers. “My teacher told my class not to burst crackers this year. They pollute the air. The air is Delhi is already bad,” said the Class-2 student at Shri Ram Millennium in Noida.

Instead, she will celebrate the festival of lights in its truest sense. “I love lights! So we will decorate our homes with loads of diyas, (LED) lights and (smoke-free) candles,” she said.

‘There were no crackers during the time of Lord Ram’

Mihir Dhawan (13)

Mihir Dhawan celebrates Diwali without crackers. (Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times)

Mihir, an aspiring filmmaker, never liked firecrackers. “As a child, I used to find them scary and disturbingly noisy. As I grew up, I realised how harmful it is to burst crackers, especially to animals,” said the dog lover from Vasant Vihar.

He once fostered a dog named Sherry. It irks him that people burst crackers, despite the effect toxic fumes and loud noises they have on animals. “It is just cruel,” he said.

The Class-8 student at the American Embassy School realises Delhi’s air quality deteriorates during Diwali. “I remember reading somewhere that breathing for a day in Delhi hurts our lungs more than smoking.”

He feels people are too focused on having fun and forget about others. “Some people have trouble breathing. Others are disturbed by the noise. We need to start respecting their needs,” he said.

Mihir’s mother, Aparna Dhawan, feels crackers have gotten louder and more toxic. “When we used burst crackers as kids, it smelt of smoke. Now, it smells of chemicals,” she said.

Mihir feels the festival should be celebrated with lights rather than crackers. “When Lord Ram came back home after his vanvaas, he was welcomed home with diyas, not crackers,” he says.

‘Itna shor kyun hain bhai?’

Tanya Borah (15)

Tanya Borah (right) and her friend Vamika Bedi making rangoli at their residence in Safdarjung Enclave. (Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times)

Born to an environmentalist, Tanya has always found it disturbing to burst crackers for celebrations. She gave up crackers when she was 12.

“Every year, there is so much noise around. I used to despise it. Earlier, Diwali was peaceful and about commemorating Lord Ram’s return after the vanvaas. Today, it is all about the “Dhamaka” as can be seen in any ad run during Diwali,” says the Class-10 student at Ambience Public School.

She worries for people’s health and Delhi’s environment.

“Even the morning after, there is a lot of residue, like the burnt remains, dust, etc., that litter the streets and pollute the air,” said the Safdarjung Enclave resident.

She blames the media as well. “Whenever there is a Diwali storyline on a TV show or in a movie, we see the actors bursting crackers. People, especially kids, are influenced by this.”

She is trying to convince others to give up crackers. “My brother (in Class 6) is too young to understand. He insists on buying crackers because many of his classmates use them. My family and I have said a strict “no”. Just because others do it, does not mean we should too.”

However, Tanya eagerly looks forward to the festival every year. To her, it is about decorating her house with rangolis, flowers and diyas, spending time with family and friends, and exchanging sweets and gifts with them.

’Why burn money?’

Vamika Vedi (15)

Vamika admits she used to burst crackers till last year. This Diwali, she has vowed to give it up after a personal tragedy. “Last year, an acquaintance lost hearing in one ear because of crackers. I decided I would not burst anymore crackers,” she said.

Vamika was also moved by a presentation shown in her school — Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj. It highlighted the plight of children making crackers in hazardous conditions. “If you support bursting crackers, you are supporting child labour too,” she says.

She feels bursting crackers is the equivalent of burning money. “Why not buy gifts for others with that money? That would spread more joy, which is the essence of the festival,” she adds.

Vamika’s Diwali is about good food, new clothes, and lights and diyas. “Sitting with loved ones and talking is so much more fulfilling and fun than bursting crackers,” she says.

‘Let’s talk about the future’

Charvi Nayyar (15)

Like other kids who have pledged to say no to crackers this Diwali, Charvi also is concerned about the city’s air pollution levels.

A self-proclaimed ‘environmental freak,’ Charvi has never really been a fan of firecrackers. “I was scared of them…, but as I grew older, I got to know more about how it affects the environment. I have since consciously tried to ensure an eco-friendly Diwali in my house.”

She says she makes extra effort to ensure a better future for herself and her the next generations. “Our actions will have long-term consequences. If we are not careful (about pollution) I will suffer, the future generations will suffer. After all, isn’t the current situation in Delhi a consequence of what our fathers and forefathers did?”

Like other kids who have pledged to say no to crackers this Diwali, Charvi also is concerned about the city’s air pollution levels. “Delhi’s air is almost unbreathable, and it is getting worse by the day,” she said.

Charvi celebrates Diwali by spending quality time with her family, making rangolis and eating great food and going shopping. She believes crackers are extraneous to Diwali. “Diwali is Deepavali — the festival of lights. Toh deepak se raunak honi chahiye, pataakho se nahin (There should lustre from lights, not from crackers).”

These kids have set an example for other children as well as adults in the country by saying no to crackers this Diwali. The next time you use your children as an excuse to pollute Delhi, remember that all they need is a little guidance.

“Kids will be kids. They will ask for crackers. But if we try and make them understand, they will relent,” said Class-12 student Sagar Jha from Sahid Hemu Khilani Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in Faridabad.

He has not only given up crackers himself but has also convinced his younger sister to embrace a greener and safer Diwali.

Sagar has convinced his sister to embrace a greener Diwali.