Residents lit up Ayodhaya with rows of clay lamps to welcome their beloved Rama who returned after defeating Ravana and completing 14 years of exile with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. Celebrated as a festival of light, Deepawali is also celebrated as an occasion to cleanse, renovate and decorate; in short as a festival of a new beginning.
Deepawali - 'Deepa' meaning lamps and 'awali' meaning row; is the festival which we Indians celebrate to symbolize the victory of good over evil, hope over despair, knowledge over ignorance and above all light over darkness. A festival to celebrate the inner light which dispels and protects us from spiritual darkness; an occasion to introspect by diving into the depth of our being and discover our true self.
Traditionally, the celebration of Deepawali meant lighting earthen diyas and distributing sweets amongst friends and family but with passing times the festival has become synonym to bursting of firecrackers, suffocating smoke, ear-piercing noises, loads of garbage and everlasting pollution. In the computer era, today we all are so much influenced and engrossed in enhancement and beautification of everything outside us that we have completely ignored and have got disconnected with our inner being. Our ego keeps us divided and separated not allowing us to connect with either our own self or with the Supreme Source. Unless and until our body, mind, heart and soul fall in tune with each other, we remain to live as a burden to the existence. Human mind being limited and ignorant is incapable of discriminating between the real and illusion and keeps us divided and doubtful. In order to become one with the existence we need to imbibe and develop our forgotten qualities of peace, love, compassion, service and sacrifice.
Sadly with passing times the pure and pious festival seems to have lost its spiritual richness and religious significance. Today it has merely turned into a festival to showcase materialistic affluence. Bursting crackers that cause enormous sound pollution is becoming a way to celebrate. Noisy and polluting crackers which not only cause air pollution but also cause Noise Pollution are burst days in advance because we think that Diwali celebrations are incomplete without fireworks. Since the rising level of noise and its effects are subtle and gradual, our ears constantly get adjusted to these changes which is why without paying much attention we tend to overlook the magnitude of harm it causes. Without considering the ill effects that loud crackers have on our health, we continue to burst them and add to the already polluted environment. Crackers are not only harmful for us humans but also for other beings such as birds and animals whose ears are much more sensitive to sound. Noise pollution caused by crackers can also lead to temporary or permanent deafness. Every year we face these health hazards and every year we repeat the same mistake.
Deepawali is a festival of light and we have made it a festival of noise. Say "No To Noise" by saying "No To Crackers" this Diwali and all the Diwalis to come. It is important to know that children between the age of 5 and 15 work in firecracker factories for up to 12 hours a day on a meager daily wages of Rs 30 to Rs 50 and we are unknowingly contributing and promoting child labour by buying those crackers to celebrate festivals and other occasions. Therefore, this Diwali pledge to celebrate the festival of light by lighting eco-friendly lamps and by creating a noise-free environment for a cleaner, greener, healthier and a silent tomorrow. Instead of merely existing, let us create and live a satisfying and gratifying life that not just inspires but also becomes an example for others.