PACHU MENON, MARGAO
IF not for the religious aspect; as a festival celebrated with all the traditional fervour associated with it, Diwali is undoubtedly one that is looked forward to by revelers sheerly for the cacophony of the sound and the dazzle of lights that accompanies it. Brightly illuminated houses and apartments which speak for the innovative ideas at lighting up one’s premises to herald the onset of the brighter times ahead is enough motivation for people to celebrate Diwali with the sort of pomp and splendor that makes it a festival of lights and joy. Besides the harmful effect caused by the high decibel firecrackers, the bursting of crackers which is an inevitable part of the Diwali festivities is however an aspect of the festival which has been receiving widespread condemnation from environmentalist for the polluting effect it causes. With many of the states banning the use of firecrackers this Diwali citing twin problems of COVID-19 and air pollution, it is expected that the festival this year would be sans its customary glitter and the staccato of the bursting crackers. The Supreme Court’s decision to promote ‘green crackers’ this Diwali notwithstanding, the question of how green the crackers recommended really are puts a whole lot of uncertainty over their use. Moreover, imposition of the ban on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers by the National Green Tribunal between November 10 and November 30 in all cities and towns across the country where the average ambient air quality in November was ‘poor’ or ‘worse’ ensures a ‘silent’ Diwali this year. Although none of the towns or cities from Goa figure in the list of the 122 cities put out by the NGT, a fair amount of skepticism over people in the state going all out to celebrate the ‘omission’ during this Diwali cannot be ruled out either! For a state that has been garnering attention for the spate of agitations aimed at saving the region from wanton destruction of its natural resources leading to environmental degradation, it is indeed ironical that its citizens are extremely distressed when restrictions are imposed on festival gaieties and are quick to blame the government for its insensitiveness to traditions. Besides, with the pandemic at its peak, do we really have a cause to celebrate!