15 October, 2019
In about another ten days, the country would celebrate its biggest festival, Diwali. This is one festival that people across the country celebrate with the same zeal. The mythological legends linked to the festival are many, and hence the celebrations also vary from region to region. But, the underlying spirit of the family get-togethers, making merry, umpteen purchases for decking up the house, lighting diyas, etc. are commonly seen all across.
Diwali is a festival that lifts the spirits of the people, and people come together to celebrate as one, and friends irrespective of religion partake in the celebrations. Diwali is also the time when people buy gold or silver on the occasion of Dhanteras, and usually make the more significant purchases for the home, due to the heavy offers that come by during this time. In recent years, Diwali also has been about being Eco-friendly and making sure that we also nurture the nature and environment around us. So, if you are planning your Diwali do, here are a few things you can keep in mind.
Stick to traditional lamps
The irony is that none of the traditional Indian Diwali rituals were harmful to nature, and yet as times changed and people adapted, traditions changed. The most important ritual of Diwali is light the lamps/diyas, and we always used to light the earthen diyas. However, due to inconvenience in lighting them or cleaning up afterward, people started drifting to cheaper and easier options. So, many people light up candles of various sizes and shapes, use cheap LED lights and lamps, all of which include cheap plastic and are not durable.
In many homes, they reuse the earthen diyas and replenish it every year by a few numbers. You even get earthen lamps and lanterns that you can hang up in a few places. You could also top this up with some brass lamps if you have. There is nothing more pleasing and elegant to the eye on a Diwali day than some earthen lighted lamps set nicely within a multi-colored Rangoli. By doing this, you are avoiding plastic waste, as well as helping the cause of the local vendors who sustain on the sale of these diyas. This would be a wonderful gesture to stick to tradition and also show that you care for the environment.
Going natural with Rangoli
Incidentally, Rangolis too, has been taken away from the traditional way they used to be done. Most bright and neon colours that you get are good and attractive to look at, but are chemical-filled, and harmful. The best way to do your Rangoli would be to stick to organic or herbal colours that are available in the market nowadays, perhaps for a shade higher cost. But, at least, you know that you are being safe. You could even use the natural haldi and kumkum, rice flour, colorful flower petals like how it’s done during Onam in Kerala, or even use colourful pulses, etc. It would be fun to experiment and bring out the creativity in you.
Most of our traditional decorations also used to be natural ones like the Mango leaves coined together toran, for the doors, along with the bright orange marigold flower garlands. However, these days you get a lot of imitation plastic torans that look bright and good and are easily available for cheap rates. But, perhaps it’s time to stick to tradition and go natural again.
If you plan to decorate the interiors, you could choose to do so artistically with some bright colored sarees or dupattas as well. A touch of natural green can make the whole thing pleasing.
Another aspect that has changed is the way we serve our lunch or dinner for Diwali. While earlier, especially in the South, people used to serve traditional lunch/dinner on a banana leaf, that has now given way too easily disposable plastic/paper plates/cutlery, etc. Perhaps we can go back to tradition or use biodegradable leaf-based plates, which are now available in the market easily. These can also be disposed of easily and are more environmentally friendly.
If you love crackers and were feeling guilty about environmental pollution, especially in the Delhi-NCR region, then you have some good news. The green crackers which reduce particulate emissions by 30% percent have now been launched. These are available at the same cost or even lesser cost than the original crackers. This came about because of the SC intervention since last year, restricting the use of crackers during Diwali in this region.
Also, please do not forget to carry your cloth/jute bags while going Diwali shopping and avoid plastic at any cost. You may recall that even our PM has now sounded the bugle for reducing and phasing out the use of single-use plastics. And you may want to explore the possibility of gifting plants instead of sweets, this Diwali, to make a statement. Let us all have a safe, Eco-friendly Diwali, and contribute to the cause of the nation and the environment.
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