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Punekars take the green route, this Diwali

This year, families and individuals have decided to celebrate Diwali in a green and clean fashion. Hindustan Times speaks to them about their plans for the festival as they talk about their special initiatives and ideas to bring joy to the underprivileged

pune Updated: Nov 05, 2018 14:43 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Diwali,Festival of lights
Students of Abhinav junior college at Ambegaon in Pune, pledged to not burst crackers and protect the environment this Diwali(Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

Diwali, a festival of lights, calls for celebration, spending time with family and lots of sweets. However, Punekars this year are taking special efforts to ensure a green and clean Diwali. Right from choosing eco-friendly products to decorate their homes, to vowing not to burst crackers, these families are doing their bit for the environment. Some are also going the extra mile to bring smiles on the faces of the needy and underprivileged.

Paper and cloth handmade lanterns being sold at Maharashtra prison department’s small -scale industry “MaKa” (Maharashtra Karagriha) in Yerawada for Diwali (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Making the switch

For many years, artist Sandeep Sinha would burst crackers on all days of Diwali. An unfortunate asthma attack of one of his cousins, made him realise the damage he was doing to environment and people around him.

“For a few years now, I completely refrain from including anything that can harm the environment in my celebrations. We should celebrate Diwali the way it is meant to be celebrated. Originally the first time when Diwali was celebrated in honour of Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya, it was eco-friendly with no crackers and only lamps. I don’t see any religious or spiritual interest in bursting crackers. We do it in the name of Diwali, just for the sake of our happiness and bursting crackers are same as smoking because both gives happiness, but if happiness harms us then please avoid it,” says Sandeep.

Celebrating a eco-friendly Diwali for the past two years is 21-year-old photographer Mukund Thakkar. “We do not burst crackers or do anything to pollute the environment during Diwali. We also focus on green products . We try and reuse decorations every year and avoid the use of single-use plastics,” Mukund said.

No crackers for us

For 33-year-old Trupti Rathod, Diwali has always been a time to celebrate with family and close ones. “As a family motto, we don’t believe in hurting or harming anything around us. So, our main focus through the year is to save our environment, protect nature and avoid any kind of pollution. This just becomes stricter during festivals. We stay away from crackers and ensure a green and clean Diwali festival, every year. In fact, my mom Meena has never burst crackers since her childhood.” Trupti said.

Lanterns made of jute and paper, a more eco-friendly option then the usual plastic lanterns being sold near airport road ahead of Diwali. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

On similar lines is the thought process of the management of NSS unit at Abhinav junior college, Ambegaon. The students of this unit have been taking an oath to stay away from crackers for the past 12 years. Vinod Kumar Bangale, programme officer, NSS, shares, “The students of Class 11 take an oath every year to stay away from crackers. They also help in spreading the message across. The idea is to inculcate awareness in them from the right age. The age of 17-19 is when we notice most youth burning crackers. So, our initiative with the help of Rajiv Jagtap (president, Abhinav Education Society) and Varsha Sharma (principal) is to help them understand the ill effects of crackers and how to protect environment and avoid sound/air pollution.”

Interestingly, the students collect the money that they get from elders to spend on crackers and use it for a noble cause. They either buy stationery for underprivileged students or collect the amount and give it to an NGO.

Spreading happiness

For 25 years, a cloth merchant Madan Wadekar has been donating clothes to the needy through his store on Tilak Road. At 53, Madan has come up with an interesting initiative to spread happiness during Diwali. For over two decades, he has been collecting old, but usable clothes from customers and distributing it to various NGOs across the city. He offers customers donating clothes a discount, which they can avail on purchase of new clothes from the store.“During festivals, I noticed that many families could not afford new clothes and it touched me. That’s when I requested my customers to donate their old outfits and avail a discount and the initiative has running for over two decades.”His social drive is carried out only through word of mouth publicity.

Eco-friendly Diwali products

Products made by the inmates of Yerawada Central Prison for Diwali are displayed at an exhibition at the outlet on Ahmednagar road.This year, the exhibition has focused on eco-friendly products including lanterns, diyas and temples.The raw material for most of the products are also made by inmates. Paper mash and cardboard made in the jail from newspapers is used to make diwali diyas, lanterns and paper bags. The saris, towels and bedsheets are made of pure cotton. The technical staff that supervises the prisoners at work, help sell their products at the exhibition.

First Published: Nov 04, 2018 15:48 IST