Why is everyone talking about cracker-free Diwali? Is a green Diwali or an eco-friendly Diwali really needed? Is it even possible to celebrate Diwali without burning firecrackers?

I had the same questions and I found the answers to them in this journey.

It all started when I read an article on an initiative by Warrior Moms. They are picking up “Dhoom Dhamaka without Patakha” initiative in 2020.

This got me thinking, do we need a pollution-free Diwali or is it a fad?

Blog read time: 9.45 mins

This blog is my journey, in which I discover
– Why it’s become urgent and critical to solving the air pollution problem
– How crackers are not the cause but are an unwilling contributor to the problem.
– How easy it is to celebrate any festival or occasion without any firecrackers.
– When I separated “firecracker” from “Diwali”, I found cracker-free Diwali logical. I don’t even know why I have been burning firecrackers till now.

Finally, I request you to give it a thought.
Hopefully, you will also pledge for a green Diwali, cracker-free Diwali and an eco-friendly Diwali.

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1.Cracker-free Diwali: Fad or Fact? My fact-finding journey.

It’s a November morning in suburban Gurugram (Gurgaon). The weather outside looks beautiful through my glass window. It appears like a beautiful foggy morning in the Himalayas. This is just a manifestation of a hopeful mind because the reality hits you as soon as you step out. It’s murky and the air smells all kinds of funny. It’s not foggy, it’s smoggy.

A hopeful thought follows, maybe it’s just today. All other days the weather is good. How will bursting or not bursting crackers make any difference? This has to be a fad, isn’t it? It is, right?

I needed answers and I needed them quick as festivities have begun in India. I said to myself, I am a “mom” so all I needed was to be a “warrior” of truth.

This is what I found.

2.Pollution

When there are any contaminants introduced in the environment which can cause harmful effect it is termed as pollution. There are many types of pollution like noise, plastic, soil, radioactive, light, water, visual, air, etc.

I am focusing on Air Pollution for today.

2.1.What is air pollution?

Air pollution is the presence of undesired substances in the atmosphere that can be harmful to living things. This can cause damage and changes to the climate and weather.

Weather changes add to Global Warming and is a major cause of the shift in climate behaviour.

2.2.What is causing air pollution in Delhi NCR?

Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, and other NCR have the worst Air Quality Index (AQI) in the whole of India. There are many factors but crop burning and traffic are the major contributors.

  • Crop burning: Is one of the major contributing factors. Farmers burn approx 35 million tonnes of rice stubbles. This gets mixed with air, dust and pollutants. It’s the major reason for the smog.
  • Traffic: Lack of public transport forces people to use their vehicles. This adds to the number of vehicles on road. Which is a major pollutant contributor. It adds nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons.
  • Winter season: During this season, the wind becomes stagnant. This restricts the movement of dust particles in the air. These stagnant particles mixed with moisture causes the smog.
  • Construction: They contribute to the dust in the smog.
  • Others: like industry smoke, generators, air conditioners, etc.

2.3.Can this air pollution be harmful?

Air pollution is very harmful. Short term impact is that it can cause pneumonia, bronchitis, eyes and nose irritation. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty to breathe are common.

2.4.What long term health issues can occur due to air pollution?

It’s a slow killer in the long term. It cuts away a few years at least from your life. People suffer from heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases. It also damages the kidney, nerves, brain, liver, and other organs.

Almost 30 lakhs (or 3 million) people die each year from air pollution in the world. Approx 7 lakhs people die in India every year from diseases caused by air pollution.

3.Air Quality Index (AQI)

Air quality index (AQI) is a measurement of air quality from 0 to 500. Higher the AQI more hazardous to health it is.

3.1.AQI ranges and what it means.

AQI RangeStatus
0 – 50Good
51 – 100Satisfactory
101 – 200Moderately Polluted
201 – 300Poor
301 – 400Very poor
401 – 500Severe

3.2.AQI of Indian states as of 06 Nov 2020

This is sorted from highest to lowest.

StateAir Quality Index (AQI)
Haryana314
Delhi305
Uttar Pradesh295
West Bengal174
Assam169
Odisha162
Maharashtra162
Rajasthan139
Punjab136
Telangana133
Bihar128
Gujarat116
Madhya Pradesh107
Chandigarh101
Uttarakhand93
Andhra Pradesh90
Kerela55
Karnataka54
Jharkhand40
Meghalaya40
Tamil Nadu26
Mizoram9

courtesy AQI.in, refer state dashboard for latest data

3.3.Previous years AQI, just after Diwali day

The next day after Diwali crackers is the worst day for air quality. Below is last years article from Hindustan Times showing the same.

image courtesy https://www.hindustantimes.com/

It makes sense now! Why I see so many people in Delhi NCR suffering from pollution-related diseases. I am sure you have noticed it too.

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4.Diwali celebration

Let me be upfront, I love Diwali and everything about it. The love, the joy and the goodness that is all around are magical. It’s one of the best festivals in India.

We all look forward to meeting our friends, families and relatives.

4.1.What is Diwali?

Diwali or Deepavali is also called “festival of lights“. It is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism. The whole of India celebrates Deepavali. It symbolizes the spiritual victory of good over evil, light over darkness.

4.2.Why is it called the festival of lights?

When Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, it was evening time with no moon. To welcome and celebrate the return of Lord Rama, the residents lit diyas. So many diyas were lit that it made it so bright as if it was morning. Amazing!

In case you ever wondered: There were no crackers burnt during that time because there was no gunpowder. China invented gunpowder later in the 11th century.

4.3.How is Diwali celebrated?

This festival of lights is a very auspicious day. We clean and decorate our houses and living spaces. In the evening, we perform Lakshmi puja (prayer to Goddess Lakshmi). We cook special cuisines and dishes. People get together and party with family and friends.

4.4.Why crackers are burnt in Diwali?

I couldn’t find some conclusive content on this. Some articles say it started because of the thrill and spectacle of fireworks. Some mentioned that it started because the light and the sound gives an adrenaline rush. One article that I found gave a scientific approach to it. It mentions that it was started to get rid of the harmful insects and germs. Burning sparklers and crackers killed them. The chemical and the smoke suffocated these insects. Read it here.

5.Cracker-free Diwali celebration

Let’s be clear, firecrackers during Diwali are not the root cause of air pollution. A green Diwali and a cracker-free Diwali will not solve the air pollution problem. We have to make some major and critical steps to solve that problem. We’re already losing that battle as evident from above findings.

Burning crackers is not the cause but it has the power to compound the problem. This is evident from the next day after Diwali. It’s like a gas chamber! At least Delhi NCR is.

This is a festival of lights, so let’s shine the light on this. We should aim to win over this evil and overcome the ill-effects of crackers. For the sake of our children’s future.

Say no to crackers this Diwali and every other occasion.

Make air safe to breathe, for all.

5.1.Is a green Diwali or cracker-free Diwali possible?

How much time during the whole Diwali celebration do you spend on burning crackers? Max 5% (1 or 2 hrs). It’s not that big a deal. Mostly we do it for our kids (I know that I do). There are better ways of giving them the fun of this beautiful festival.

Try it, I am sure you won’t even miss the crackers.

5.2.Why celebrate it as a cracker-free Diwali?

Giving our kids a breathable future, what can be better than that? I see so many people suffering from so many diseases because of pollution. It takes a small pledge to make this small change which will reap a huge benefit.

Any activities that kids do should be under adult supervision. Keep an eye especially when they are near any fire and/or electricity.

5.3.7 reasons to celebrate it as a pollution-free Diwali

  1. Health benefits: it will help to avoid fatal diseases and increase your life expectancy.
  2. Cleaner air: give a breathable and healthy future to your kids.
  3. Animals, birds and trees: especially our beloved pets, would feel much safe. They get so scared by the noise. Even the plants and trees would appreciate it. They will grow and bloom more in a non-toxic environment.
  4. Accident-free: every year so many people suffer because of firecracker related accidents. Save all the life and property loss.
  5. Reduced Cleaning Effort: we won’t need to clean the post-Diwali mess. All the burnt crackers and ashes everywhere. Street cleaners would be so thankful!
  6. Financial Savings: imagine how much money you would save if you don’t buy firecrackers. Spend that money in other things that give you happiness.
  7. Social Responsibilities: think of the needy and down-trodden, who are staying on the streets. Give them some relief from the noise and air pollution. Help them in whatever way you can financially so that they can also enjoy this magnificent festival.

Pledge: Money that I had spent last year buying firecrackers, I will gift it away to the needy and the poor this year.

I implore you to do the same.

5.4.5 ideas to make it an Eco-friendly Diwali

  1. Make it traditional, make your diyas or buy earthenware diyas. You can decorate them. A great kids’ project!
  2. Decorate your house and living space. Check another blog on great Diwali decoration ideas.
  3. If you want the fun and thrill of crackers, then fill up some balloons and have kids burst them. It’s enjoyable, especially for small kids. Check out the video below.
  4. Get together with your friends and together cook some delicacies. This fun and bonding exercise is good for all relationships.
  5. Do charity, make some small gift hampers and gift it to the needy. Especially in this Covid-19 pandemic, many are suffering. Donating and sharing will burst a million crackers worth of spectacle in your heart.

Let me know if you have more ideas— in the comments section below.

sounds like fun

5.5.What steps can you take to safeguard yourself from air pollution?

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued some guidelines. These help to protect yourself against the hazardous impacts of smog and pollution.

  • Don’t step out or indulge in outdoor activities during early morning and evening hours. This is due to “severe” levels of air pollution in the city.
  • Try to stay indoors. Go out when it’s bright and sunny.
  • Avoid stepping out if you have breathing difficulty.
  • Keep children indoors as much as possible.
  • Avoid smoking. Do not burn garbage.
  • Drink adequate amount of water as it helps in flushing toxins from the body.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, as they may lead to inhalation of minute pollutants.
  • Eat fruits with vitamin C, magnesium and omega fatty acids. These fruits are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They help in boosting immunity.
  • Use nasal filters or air purifiers, which helps in short-term relief.
  • Keep some air purifying plants inside your homes and offices such as Aloe Vera and English ivy.
  • Avoid using main roads. Pollution drops when you walk in lanes away from the main roads.
  • Avoid going to areas with heavy smoke or dust.

6.Common Apprehensions

6.1.The general perception of why we might not be on-board for a pollution-free Diwali.

My friends and I discussed making this an eco-friendly Diwali. Here are some of the apprehensions that we had and how we addressed them.

“Bursting firecrackers is part of Diwali tradition”

No, it’s not! Diwali is a festival of lights and not firecrackers. It’s about celebrating the victory of good over evil. It is about meeting family and friends.

We need to get a victory on the evil of air pollution. Spread smiles and not pollute our Mother Earth.

“What would kids do, if they don’t burn firecrackers?”

What do they do in all other get-togethers? Involve them in decoration and other celebration tasks. Teach them about what Diwali is actually about.

“We’ve been burning crackers since childhood, why stop now?”

We should stop burning crackers in Diwali, in fact on all occasions for the sake of ourselves and kids. We need to leave a breathable future for them.

“If I don’t burn crackers will it fix the air pollution?”

No, it will not. The problem is much bigger. It will be a small step in the correct direction.

“How do we fix the larger issue of air-pollution?”

This is urgent and requires immediate action. We all need to join hands together and work towards fixing this. It’s not something that our government or some group can fix alone. We, the people can only fix it.

“Ban firecrackers!”

I don’t believe in banning anything. The word “ban” has a very negative connotation attached to it, for me. In a democracy, there should be no need for banning anything. We should teach and educate. I am sure with the correct facts in our knowledge, we all would make the correct decision.

I believe that if you disassociate “Diwali” from “firecrackers” you would be able to see this initiative in a different light. Think about the facts that I have displayed here. By now, you should be well equipped to decide the course of your action.

7.Warrior Moms

They are the source of inspiration for this blog. We reached out to them and Anuja Bali from Warrior-Moms responded.

Here is our communication.

7.1.What motivated Warrior Moms to pick up a cracker-free initiative in 2020?

Every year the AQI goes up. The continuous rising air pollution is becoming a menace. Air pollution-related diseases are increasing every day.

During the lockdown, air pollution went down. Everyone all over India noticed the clear sky. That’s when it dawned to us that we are becoming used to the polluted sky. We have forgotten what clear blue sky looked like.

As soon as Covid-19 lockdown will be over we will go back to polluted air quality. The doctors are saying that Covid-19 will become worse with poor air quality. Other related diseases will also start to increase.

We decided that the need of the hour is to push for smoke-free Diwali, this year and every year henceforth.

7.2.When did Warrior-Moms initiative start?

Warrior Moms official launched on 7th September 2020. We chose this day because it is the first-ever International Day of Clean Air Blue Skies.

7.3.What are the key highlights of this initiative?

We are mothers who have gotten together from all over the country. We are fighting for our and our children’s right to breathe clean air.

Existing policies and laws should implement and enforced by the authorities. We are making our birthright of clean air to breathe, a citizen-driven movement.

Everyone is welcome to join, participate and contribute. We are asking the government to show their intent with every action they take.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, we have to follow the norms of physical distancing, we are using social media to raise our voices. We are spreading this campaign to our fellow Indians in every corner of our country.

We are multilingual and come from a variety of professional backgrounds. So we best understand the plight of all mothers because we have personally experienced those incidents with our children and family members.

7.4.What are the steps being taken to promote this initiative?

  • Reporting Violations and pressurising the authorities to enforce the Hon’ble Supreme Court guidelines for selling and bursting crackers.
  • Demanding Central and State government to ban firecrackers not only during Diwali but throughout the year.
  • Appealing to citizens to participate by signing our smoke-free Diwali petition and giving a missed call on the number.
  • Encouraging families, schools, RWAs and organizations to join our movement and create awareness in their neighbourhood.
  • Creating video appeals from doctors, artists, local influencers and sharing on social media.

Thank you Anuja Bali from warrior-moms for taking out time, talking to us and responding to our queries.

Please help, support and spread this initiative. Let everyone know about it.

Dhoom Dhamaka without Patakha

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8.Conclusion: We need to make 2020 a cracker-free Diwali

I am alarmed with what I have discovered on this journey. We are already very late and we should fix this air pollution problem immediately. A cracker-free Diwali is definitely a step in the right direction.

Armed with my findings I discussed with my friends to make this one a green Diwali. They had the same apprehension and questions. Once we debated and discussed together as concerned citizens. The answer was obvious and logical.

We (my friends and I) have decided to make our Deepavali a celebration of our friendship. We’ll get together and have a party, taking all the mandatory precautions. We will fill the air with the smell of delicious delicacies. The sound of our joy and laughter will resonate in the room. No space for any firecrackers on any occasion for us.

We are all convinced that this would be our best Diwali celebration to date.

We would, in our small way, give the gift of clean air to all and make this a pollution-free Deepavali.

I encourage you also to give it a thought. Make it your best Diwali.

Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali!

May the blessing of The Almighty be with you and your family. Always!

9.State-wise status as of Nov/11

Following table shows the status of each states

StateStatus
Delhihave banned firecrackers
Maharashtrahave banned firecrackers
West Bengalhave banned firecrackers
Odishahave banned firecrackers
Rajasthanhave banned firecrackers
Sikkimhave banned firecrackers
Chandigarhhave banned firecrackers
HaryanaAllowed to burst only on Diwali between 8 pm to 10 pm
Karnatakahave banned firecrackers

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4 thoughts on “Cracker-free Diwali: it’s urgent and actually possible”
  1. Salil Agastya says:

    Yes! I pledge. I will celebrate this Diwali 2020 as cracker free in Pune.

  2. Rajat Bajaj says:

    I pledge to celebrate a Cracker Free Diwali with my friends and family! ✅

  3. Rishab Nema says:

    The idea of celebrating Diwali with crackers wasn’t in our culture but it was celebrated with light and flowers. So, anyone who says we’re spoiling the festival by not burning crackers should know that we spoiled it when we introduced crackers to it. An amazing article. I hope that people take something from this read.

  4. Meera says:

    Very well written. We really need more articles talking about safe diwali and safe air in general. We need to keep the conversation going, and thank you, My Area Page, for doing so!

Contributed by Akriti Tripathi
I am a banker. I have a passion for singing and taking care of my family.
My Area of expertise - I can play the sitar
My Area of philosophy - "ऐसी वाणी बोलिए, मन का आपा खोय | औरन को शीतल करे, आपहु शीतल होय ||" ― Kabir

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