Diwali, a festival of lights, not showing off of assets

“मैं ही हूँ गरीबनी ऐसी जो कुछ साथ नहीं लाई

फिर भी साहस कर मंदिर में पूजा करने को आई I

 धूप दीप नैवैद्य नहीं हैं झांकी का श्रृंगार नहीं

हाय! गले में पहनाने को फूलों का भी हार नहीं I”

 In one of her poems, late Smt. Subhadra Kumari Chauhan depicted the pain of a poor woman who was embarrassed to have visited a temple without any material offerings; however presented her heart and body to the Almighty. We have all read the poem in our school days, yet only a few of us pay heed to the underlying criticism of the current milieu, wherein our customs and religious celebrations have become a representation of our assets. You would have seen faith exemplified by the quantity of donations. Diwali, the most celebrated festival of India, has too modified its persona from a celebration of lights to a carnival of crackers, power-lit lights, new clothes, and exchange of gifts. The same, however, remains limited to only that cluster which is blessed enough to afford materialistic goods. Post the celebrations, children from underprivileged families begin the task of collecting accumulated waste of crackers so as to make some quick money. Kids of capable households resume to their studies and many of them argue the volume of money spent by them on crackers and lighting. Isn’t this what economists regard as ‘inequality of income distribution’? The purity of our social existence as well as religious celebrations has been superseded by fake and destructive formalities. Worshipping of Goddess Lakshmi with unadulterated heart and soul is rare to find.

Let’s boil down to some gradual minuses of our dominant practices. Firecrackers release carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and such other pollutants in the air, which then become the causes of bronchitis and problematic breathing. Last year, the Apex Court of India directed that bursting of sound-producing crackers shall be banned from 10 in the night till 6 in the morning. Did we follow the direction? While we yell on our political leaders for not obeying laws, are we playing our part? Throughout the year, we are concerned for birds and animals, but the mankind is put at stake on the Diwali night. Is it the age factor that urges us to be a part of law-breaking or do we take this as an opportunity to tell the world how opulent we are? Next morning, the roads are littered with remnants of crackers. From burnt fireworks to the bottles used for lighting off rockets, the waste is allowed to rest on roads and then subsequently pass into our drainage system. The next is the noise pollution, which adds to the glitches of patients, students, and elderly members of society. If anyone could tell one valid or a socially favorable purpose that is realized by way of spending hard-earned money on fireworks, the ones opposing the same shall have no concern in quitting the battle. If not for the sake of environment, think with respect to those who make excuses to kids for not outlaying on crackers.

Power crisis and scarcity of coal have been the key bottlenecks of the Indian industrial sector. We can observe Section 144 as a recurrent weapon of governments for banning unlawful assembly, but is there no arrangement to stop unwanted use of power, which is at the peak echelon during the festive season. The festival, Diwali, which denotes the comeback of Lord Ram and the win of good over evil, has turned from celebration by way of lighting lamps and candles to use of hefty power-lit bulbs. The same could have been an acceptable notion in case India was a developed economy with plenty of power and other natural resources. Public spending on fireworks and lighting exceeds average of the entire year even when the nation has been in the grip of price inflation since past many years. ‘Ghee ke Diye’, which are eco-friendly and are our traditional pride, have lost their charm to the rich ones who go for imported decorative bulbs and also for the underprivileged who rarely can afford the essentials. I was anxious to know the public expending on fireworks during Diwali, which I came to know from a source is above USD 800 million. I could also find that fireworks, decorative lights, God’s and Goddess’s idols and a variety of Diwali gift items from China enter into the Indian market both through the legal route and illegally via Nepal hurting the indigenous artisans’ and manufacturers’ profitability- Thus, hitting the country all-inclusively.

Then is the exchange of Diwali gifts which has substituted the centuries-old tradition of celebrating the win over darkness by way of consuming and distributing sweets. And do you ever notice the price of the gift pack you enthusiastically buy as compared to the price of goods packed inside. The packaging costs you more than the money spent by a poor man on meal for one time. I would come again to the writing of Smt. Chauhan just to make the society know that celebrations or belief in God does not mean materialistic offerings. The idols of Ganesha and Lakshmi, made of gold or silver seem to have more impact on the Almighty than the ones made with clay and soil. The voice of fireworks seems to be heard more by God than the voice of soul. Are we sure? Then why did Lord Ram did not talk about any of the money-backed presents for relishing the existence of God or to celebrate a religious occasion? While we have disremembered the real path that leads to God, we have also overlooked the damages caused to India’s economic, social, environmental, and cultural wings- Something that can leave us ruined.

This Diwali let us pledge to bring the change our PM wants us to. Let us contribute whatever we can to the ‘Clean India’ project by saving on and saying ‘no’ to fireworks and power-lit bulbs. Now that would mean a twofold dominance. Plus, go for clay-made idols and let the Indian artisans fetch value for their hard endeavors. Along with, how sacred would it be if we could share God’s and Goddess’s idols, diyas, and sweets with those who though wish to be a part of the celebration, however, lack the means to afford? You would agree that a piece of sweets in the hands of the poor would lessen the gap of rich and poor on one hand and will fetch the donors some blessings on the other. Make this Diwali ‘Pure Diwali’. Returning to our roots- Let us make the start of this festive time, the day of Dhanteras (birthday of Goddess Lakshmi) a day dedicated to Her. Then will be the Naraka Chaturdasi (Choti Diwali), the day we shall pledge to make colorful by way of Rangoli. Diwali, the ultimate day, should see real remembrance of God Ram and his principles this year, followed by Govardhan Puja (the fourth day of Diwali celebrated by way of building cow dung hillocks and offering prayers to Lord Govardhan) and finally the day of sister-brother loving relationship, Bhai Duj.

What if we step ahead this Diwali, knock the doors of the ones who are powerless to see the festivities due to lack of vision, and add our names to the list of eye-donors? I am sure that you would never have experienced such satisfying Diwali if you could pass on the light of God to someone in need. My suggestions are not exhaustive and any of the good deeds of yours that can further enhance the glory of Hinduism are welcomed.

Finally, to the government- We, the common men of India, know the evils of our way of relishing Diwali. You, being the law-making body, should along with appealing to the people for nil use of fireworks and zero depletion of power, also frame such stern laws and rules, the prohibition of which shall lead to severe punitive actions. I can assure constructive mass awakening.

Hereunder is a glimpse of the work of Late Smt. Chauhan, mind and soul awakening, substantiating that God seeks true devotion, not our purchases.

देव!तुम्हारेकईउपासककईढंगसेआतेहैं

सेवामेंबहुमूल्यभेंटवेकईरंगकीलातेहैं I

धूमधाम से साजबाज से वे मंदिर में आते हैं

मुक्तामणि बहुमूल्यवस्तुएं लाकर तुम्हे चढ़ाते हैं I

मैं ही हूँ गरीबनी ऐसी जो कुछ साथ नहीं लाई

फिर भी साहस कर मंदिर में पूजा करने को आई I

धूप दीप नैवैद्य नहीं हैं झांकी का श्रृंगार नहीं

हाय! गले में पहनाने को फूलों का भी हार नहीं I

कैसे करूँ कीर्तन, मेरे स्वर में है माधुर्य नहीं

मन का भाव प्रगट करने को वाणी में चातुर्य नहीं I

नहीं दान है, नहीं दक्षिणा खाली हाथ चली आई

पूजा की विधि नहीं जानती, फिर भी नाथ चली आई I

पूजा और पुजापा प्रभुवर! इसी पुजारिन को समझो

दान-दक्षिणा और निछावर इसी भिखारिन को समझो I

मैंउन्मत्तप्रेमकीप्यासी,हृदयदिखनेआईहूँ

जोकुछहै,वहयहीपासहै,इसेचढानेआईहूँ I

चरणोंपरअर्पितहै,इसकोचाहोतोस्वीकारकरो

यहतोवस्तुतुम्हारीहीहै,ठुकरादोयाप्यारकरो I

84 thoughts on “Diwali, a festival of lights, not showing off of assets

  1. Rakesh Srivastav

    I had forgotten the words of poem but yes I remember the message.
    It is so heart-touching and true.
    We have actually lost our simplicity and are searching God by way of gifts.
    He is above that and just wants love.

    Reply
  2. Vinod Sahgal

    Another example of your message that Diwali should not be celebrated to display our assets or wealth is the parable of the ‘Widow’s Mite ” in the New Testament of the Bible.
    The story is of the one of the times when Jesus Christ was on his way to address the masses & people were offering donations in large denominations. An elderly haggard & withered with age woman stopped him to offer her offering – with much effort to take out a ” Mite” – then the smallest coin much like our one time ” Damri”. on seeing this the apostles / organisors became angry & shouted ” how dare you insult the Son of God with such a small offering. But Christ admonished them saying that this was her 100% of her affordability whereas all the others offerd only a very small percentage of their affordability. so who was better this Widow or all the other rich people in the audience, – Hence the expression the ‘ Widow’s Mite” came into being to denote your best effort. We see this type of the big hearted hospitality in the villages where even if they cannot afford the same for their own family they will offer a cold sherbet / soft drink with ice to their guest – Athithi Devo Bawah !!

    Reply
  3. Navneeti Sharma

    Indian Prime Minister should take notice of these facts.
    Crackers and lighting are waste of money and resources.
    It will be better if we can donate for Kashmir victims and Hudhud victims.

    Reply
  4. Mukta Purandare

    Seeing what happened in Uttrakhand and Kashmir, we should refrain from celebrating this Diwali in same old fashion. It will be better for the society if we all can donate something to PM Relief Fund.

    Reply
  5. Navaaz P.K.

    If we will stop doing this, Sir a day will come when people will forget what Indian culture is.
    Fireworks and lights are just for one day so why so much panic?
    First ask government to stop corruption.

    Reply
  6. Ramesh Agarwal

    A poor Indian has no access to decorative lights, crackers and God’s idols.
    On the other hand, we spend thousands in just one night.
    Wake up Indians, together only we can change India.

    Reply
  7. Bhushan

    This Diwali will ruin the Clean India project if we do not follow what the article says.
    The waste flows to our sewage system and rivers.
    Pollution is at peak on the Diwali night.
    Please India listen to this man.

    Reply
  8. Govinda Marapalli

    Government should ban heavy crackers.
    Only few light crackers should be allowed.
    Chinese items are really putting Indian traders at stake.
    Government should not allow this.

    Reply
  9. Sujatha Desai

    China is a big threat to Indian economy.
    They are sending low quality products and ruining the Indian market.
    This Diwali pledge for swadesh and go only with India-made items. Jai India.

    Reply
  10. Didier J.

    God lies in every human. Therefore we should give sweets and clothes to poor rather than
    wasting our money on crackers and lighting.
    Using candles and diyas is eco-friendly also.

    Reply
  11. S.P. Narula

    I can promise not to use crackers this Diwali. How many of you can?
    Let us join this campaign and prove that now changed.
    Indian PM wants to be a part in nation-building,
    let us focus on the same.

    Reply
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