Children often wait impatiently for the festival of Ganesh Chaturti that lets them experiment with different fireworks. But is it necessary to celebrate with fireworks? NT BUZZ gathers the views of different people who celebrate Chaturthi without fireworks
SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most anticipated festivals among the Goan Hindu community. Everyone makes a beeline to the market to buy ingredients for the delectable food items and other materials required for the matoli many days in advance. The adults are generally busy with cleaning up the house to welcome lord Ganesha or to set up their kitchen systematically in preparation for the grand meals, on the other hand, the children generally have their eyes on the fireworks.
Though the trend of fireworks has caught on, with a variety of colourful ‘fountains’ or ‘rockets’ lighting up the skies in different hues that are generally found in the market these days owing to their excessive import from China; there are many children who have grown up without resorting to the frivolous fun of fireworks for many reasons. Apeksha Fowkande, a student from Navelim is proud of the fact that she has never enjoyed fireworks. As a child, she was rather scared of even the hand held sparklers (sparkling stick) as the sparks would often burn her hand.
She additionally finds the effects of fireworks disturbing, as no doubt, they adversely affect the environment and cause a lot of pollution. It is often impossible for even a healthy person to stand in the smoke for more than five minutes, let alone the effect the fumes have on any asthmatic person or anyone who has a breathing problem, is something Apeksha has always wondered.
She suggests that rather than playing with firecrackers, children can always play outdoor and indoor games with one another. “They can learn to apply mehendi or decorate the door step with rangoli or flower petals,” she adds.
Founder of Big Foot in Loutolim, Maendra Alvares opines that fireworks are not commensurate with celebrations. It is interesting to note that earlier, only a single bunch of firecrackers was lit at the time of installation of the Ganesh idol at home, and during the visarjan or farewell on the final day. Alvares mentions that this was to announce the arrival of the deity and to invite the neighbours over. Today, we often have people resorting to firecrackers even after the aartis.
He adds: “People continue to do many things which they are supposed to avoid and or never do. Harmful effects to the environment, the dangers involved in the manufacturing process of these explosions, the casualties and mortality to many are mere facts. Unfortunately, the need to display lucre and to be visible is greater than common sense!”
Alvares says that a huge array of eco friendly idols and decor is now being made available. What we’ve forgotten today is that Ganesha is one of the Gods who, according to all accounts, has come forth from Nature herself. Celebrating him is a veneration of Mother Nature. In our desire to supercede our reach and visible value we have relegated him to the same plastic world we belong to today. “I hope the devotees wake up to this fact before we experience another environmental disaster,” says Alvares.
Sharwari Prabhudesai is glad that she never introduced her daughter to fireworks who is now 5-years-old. She says that her daughter can enjoy the festivities with as much enthusiasm without any fireworks.
She believes that a festival is a celebration of culture, people, civilisation and humanity. It has nothing to do with fireworks or anything that destructs environment. Sharwari points out: “Besides health hazards to children and adults, getting used to fireworks also makes children insensitive towards environment. Our children are the future who can save the planet from further destruction.”
Apart from its effects on humans, fireworks are disastrous to the animal world. Dogs can hear at a much higher frequency than humans. That means the sound of a loud cracker or a ‘bomb’ is ten times louder to your canine pet than it may sound to your human ear. Veterinarian Neysa Diniz explains that animals have a natural instinct to be afraid or run away from loud noises that triggers the nervous system and causes anxiety in animals.
Neysa suggests that we all avoid using firecrackers especially to scare stray dogs and cats away:
“For those children, who find it fun to burn firecrackers near dogs, I would say just imagine a bomb exploding near you. What would happen to you and your ear drums? Would you laugh then? During the festive season where we light crackers many animals run away for their lives and hence go missing. Thus I would say always be kind to the kindest soul!”
There are several other ways of having fun without having to burn crackers; this Chaturthi and the rest of the festive season, let us not burst that ‘bomb’ and spare those with a weak heart some trauma.