Every year, when Diwali comes around, the Indian thing to do seems to be to get into a vehement argument about how best to celebrate it. Firstly, there are those who insist that bursting fireworks in an already dangerously polluted world is an irresponsible and reckless thing to do, and call for a blanket ban of the material which is literally explosive (Greta Thunberg would approve). These ostensibly environment conscious folks who belong to all walks of life, would be making an excellent point, if not for the fact that most are not quite ready to give up flying, driving, using animal products and the rest of the things that usually give Greta Thunberg and her fellow ecowarriors conniptions.
Then we have the Hindutva types, who insist that Hindu festivals, traditions, rites and rituals are unnecessarily being targeted by Godless folks and foolish intellectuals. Since ancient times Diwali has been celebrated with ritual oil baths, the consumption of delicious sweets and savouries guaranteed not to rot the teeth or clog the arteries provided they are cooked with the right dose of religious fervour, the adornment of the self with new clothes and ornaments, prayer and the all – important fireworks. Those who claim that fireworks were invented by vested commercial interests in China to blow up the world are liars who are woefully ignorant of the power of our venerable sages and rishis who could put up dazzling pyrotechnical marvels that lit up the heavens by merely twitching their eyebrows. How dare anyone question the wisdom of the ages? It is all these modern ideas that have prevented India from becoming a super – power and taking over the world.
They insist that the Gods in the pantheon will be mollified only if crackers are burst with gay abandon during Diwali celebrations and all who say otherwise especially the celebs who gripe about crackers exacerbating lung – related ailments but feel free to splurge on spectacular fireworks displays to impress their firangi husbands are anti – nationals, who are working hand in glove with ISIS. To hell with them! As every sensible person blessed with true faith is aware, appeasing the Gods in the traditionally approved manner will see the divinities rid the world of all its evils. And surely that includes those dratted carbon footprints, holes in the ozone layers, melting glaciers, and the rest of the ominous stuff that climate change nuts, sorry activists are always harping about?
Others can’t really be bothered with political correctness, theological debates, and environmental issues. It is the Instagram feeds that matter at the end of the day. Thanks to the television and the internet where all those ads keep popping up with unwanted diligence, it is well known that Diwali isn’t Diwali unless one is photographed while togged out in expensive designer outfits and magnificent pieces of jewellery not unlike those flaunted by heroines in those extravagant historical epics and earned at least a few thousand likes across social media platforms. If followers aren’t made sick with envy and left contemplating the futility of an existence without similar baubles, then Diwali celebrations are incomplete.
In the meantime, nobody cares about the most important thing. Diwali has fallen on a Sunday this year depriving us of the chance to holiday on a weekday. How can one celebrate this catastrophe?
This article was originally published in The New Indian Express.