Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is one of the most popular and widely celebrated festivals in Hinduism and other Indian religions. It symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Diwali falls on the darkest night of the Hindu lunar calendar, usually in October or November, and ushers in new beginnings just before the arrival of the new moon.
Diwali is a five-day festival that involves various rituals, traditions, and celebrations. Some of the common activities include lighting diyas (earthen lamps), candles, and lanterns; performing puja (worship and prayer) to various deities, especially Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity; exchanging gifts and sweets with family and friends; cleaning and decorating homes and workplaces; wearing new clothes and jewellery; enjoying fireworks and firecrackers; and partaking in a feast and sweets.
However, Diwali can also have some negative impacts on the environment and health of people and animals. The excessive use of fireworks and firecrackers can cause air and noise pollution, which can lead to respiratory problems, hearing loss, stress, and anxiety. The burning of candles and diyas can also contribute to carbon emissions and global warming. The waste generated from packaging, decorations, and food can also pose a threat to the cleanliness and hygiene of the surroundings. Moreover, some of the products used in Diwali celebrations may contain harmful chemicals, metals, or animal products, which can affect the health and well-being of humans and animals alike .
Therefore, it is important to celebrate Diwali in a safe and eco-friendly way, without compromising on the joy and spirit of the festival. Here are some tips on how to do so:
- Use LED lights, solar lamps, or biodegradable candles instead of traditional diyas and candles. They are more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. They also last longer and are safer to use .
- Avoid or limit the use of fireworks and firecrackers. They are not only harmful to the environment and health, but also illegal in some places. Instead, enjoy the natural beauty of the night sky, or watch a light show or a laser show if available. You can also create your own sound effects with musical instruments, bells, or claps .
- Choose organic, natural, or homemade products for your puja, gifts, and decorations. For example, you can use flowers, leaves, fruits, or grains to make rangoli (colourful patterns) on the floor; you can use clay, paper, or cloth to make idols or statues of deities; you can use eco-friendly paints, fabrics, or recycled materials to decorate your home or workplace; you can use organic or vegan sweets, snacks, or cosmetics to gift your loved ones .
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle your waste. Try to avoid using single-use or disposable items, such as plastic bags, cups, plates, or cutlery. Use reusable or biodegradable alternatives, such as cloth bags, steel or bamboo utensils, or banana leaves. Segregate your waste into different categories, such as organic, recyclable, or hazardous, and dispose of them properly. You can also compost your organic waste, or donate your recyclable or reusable waste to a charity or a recycling centre .
- Be mindful of your health and safety. Wear a mask and maintain social distancing if you are celebrating Diwali in a public or crowded place, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wash your hands frequently and sanitise your belongings. Avoid overeating or indulging in unhealthy foods or drinks. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing and footwear. Keep a first-aid kit handy in case of any injuries or emergencies .
By following these tips, you can celebrate Diwali in a safe and eco-friendly way, and also spread the message of peace, harmony, and sustainability to others. Diwali is a festival of joy, happiness, and prosperity, and we can make it even more meaningful and memorable by being responsible and respectful towards ourselves, others, and the environment. Happy Diwali!