Deepawali or Diwali (oil lamps are called Diwas in Punjabi) is, by definition, the festival of lights.
Wherefrom, then, did the cacophony and pollution caused by fire crackers enter the picture?
If we must have sound, wouldn't it be better to have it in the form of music and add to the beauty created by lights instead? The whole range: from Alaaps in Dhrupad to Hard Rock, from Bhajans to Light Indian, from Jazz and Fusion to Indian and Western Classical, from Solo performances to Bands, Symphonies, Orchestras and the Opera, from World music to Folk music...
We still have a few weeks to Diwali 2017. How about this as a game plan:
Let musicians and dancers start coming together, renowned as well as those next door who we don't know about yet, and start preparing for live performances in the week preceding Diwali and culminating with the best of the best performing on Diwali itself. And let each performance start with a simple Pooja (Prayer).
How does this sound? If we can make this work I reckon we can have a more aesthetically pleasing and beautiful Diwali with both light and sound.
As Diwali approaches and we start preparing for the celebrations, here are some heartfelt requests:
1) I know that the money we use to buy oil lamps (diyaas) or lights and will bring business to a wide spectrum of people. But there are also those who are so poor that they can't participate in the economy. It'll be great if we could channel some money into charity. Thumping poverty down nice and proper through collective charity is a theme dear to me. I appeal to you to participate as generously as you can.
2) I know electric lights look pretty and I appreciate the beauty they bring too. But at the same time let's also give business to the kumhaars who make clay oil lamps (diyaas). Even simply arranged diyaas look good, not to mention the exquisite arrangements possible. Plus I think the act of making diyaa arrangements ourselves and keeping them filled with oil and lit involves us directly in manifesting beauty. I feel that can be very fulfilling. I'll look for pictures on the internet and put them in the comments fields below over the next few days. I invite you to do the same. Please do share any links to nice diyaa arrangements that you may find or any photographs that you may have.
3) If we insist on firecrackers (hopefully my request to go for music instead of firecrackers at the beginning of this post convinces you otherwise):
(i) Let's please keep it as low on volume as possible. The noise pollution level we create every Diwali is way too high from any reasonable point of view. It impacts not just humans but animals and birds as well. Let's please be mindful of this and plan our fireworks purchases accordingly.
(ii) Please be safe and take due precautions while lighting firecrackers. Unnecessary bravado is not cool. It is stupid. There is absolutely no gain to be had from injuring yourself or others. Advise those around you to be cautious as well and stay careful yourself. The whole point is to have fun, not get hurt.
4) Please stay off the booze and gambling trip. Instead, have jalebis dipped in cold milk, laugh, make others laugh, celebrate!
5) Let's stay mindful of extra concerns that old people, babies and sick people may have. Let's stay alert about not putting senior citizens and babies in harm's way. Their response times can be far slower than we may expect and we need to account for this. In particular, advise kids about this. Kids with firecrackers will be kids with firecrackers. Some guidance will likely be of help. And absolutely no firecrackers near hospitals please.
Wish you all a blessed Diwali, Laxmi Puja and Kali Puja.
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih __/\__