Diwali is one of the most celebrated festivals in India with people meeting their near and dear ones, exchanging pleasantries, sweets, lighting candles and putting lights in their home and office. People also enjoy indulging in their favorite past time of bursting numerous crackers.
But this year was a completely different story. A very different Diwali actually.
Diwali without crackers? Irresistible. Unbelievable. Unimaginable. Dull and boring indeed. Diwali without crackers meant Diwali without fun and frolic. Diwali without any excitement. Diwali without any festive sentiment.
This is what I felt when I first heard about Supreme Court’s announcement on banning crackers in Delhi and Northern Capital Region area on account of high levels of pollution experienced in the last few years.
Since time immemorial, buying variety of crackers worth thousands of rupees and lighting them on Diwali has been like a must to be followed ritual, a fervent tradition thus making Diwali an Event most looked forward to every year. To add to our nation’s obsession, it seemed to be catching attention and fascination of people of various age groups along with an element of curiosity for growing children.
Lighting crackers is synonymous to being considered auspicious, a positive emotion in our Society. These colorful and glamorous crackers are not just used during Diwali in India but also on all major festivals and celebrations. These could be New Year Celebrations, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Ganpati Festival, Durga Puja, India winning Cricket match, Weddings, Baby Shower and so on. In short, we as Indians just need a reason to light crackers all the time and celebrate the occasion with pomp and show.
Like many of my friends, relatives and colleagues, I too felt Diwali will be very boring this time deprived of the essential fun element. However, I had to change my prospective when the actual Diwali day approached. To my surprise, I didn’t miss bursting crackers at all as the day progressed.
As always, my entire family had gathered momentum with cleaning rituals. Cleaning of house and household objects was completed a day in advance. Finally, on Diwali day, we all gathered at our parent’s place. My family enjoyed munching on sumptuous eatables right from early morning. These included sweets, dry fruits and numerous tempting delicacies adding the unwanted calories. Greetings and reciprocation on phone calls, text messages, whats app were followed by visiting our neighbors and family friends.
This time, surprisingly, unlike previous Diwali days, we had few hours on account of ban. Next, we wondered what do we do and how do we utilize this idle time constructively?
Celebrating Diwali with not so privileged class of society by making this festival special and memorable for them. So, I along with my family decided to visit a near by school run by a Non-Governmental Organization and then went to an Orphanage. We got few gifts for the children on our way to School and Orphanage. We interacted with the little ones and distributed cookies, sweets and cakes to every child. We really enjoyed talking to them and knowing their future goals. It was a pleasant moment and a very satisfying experience.
Looking at their constant struggles, sorrows and hardships, we felt our life was extremely comfortable, convenient and blessed. Thereafter, I started valuing my life and extending gratitude to God and my parents for the wonderful upbringing and beautiful life they have provided to all of us.
From the enriching and eye-opening experience, I took a pledge of contributing in some way to the society immediately especially to these children, who are going to be our next generation. I spoke to their in-charge and as per their requirements, decided to volunteer and start teaching them English for an hour at least once a week. It was definitely a life changing and self-realization moment for me.
Of course, the latter half of the day saw us praying to the deity, lighting lamps and candles. This Diwali was really different neither expected nor anticipated for. It was quite meaningful with lot of introspection done along with long-term goal setting without any regrets.
Lighting or not lighting crackers actually lost significance after this experience as I achieved a purpose in life. I felt like a responsible citizen of this country.
I wish I had this self-awakening much earlier in life to be able to contribute positively towards the poor and needy people thereby enhancing their life with right skills and knowledge. And I am happy to be in this zone of life.
I hope the enthusiasm continues till I am alive and I’m able to work effectively towards this goal with a positive mindset and right set of values. This year’s Diwali was certainly quite special, spectacular and amazing and will always remain so in the years to come. Thanks to Supreme Court for a life changing and unique experience. Must say, crackers ban proved to be a boon for the rest of my life.