LET’S THINK ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, THE LESS FORTUNATE AND OUR OWN HAPPINESS INSTEAD OF SHOPPING AND CRACKERS
India is a country of 1.37 billion people, belonging to different cultures and ethnicities, a country which is embodies the principle of unity in diversity and a country where people follow many traditions and celebrate many festivals.
Diwali is one among the many festivals when distant family members meet in their ancestral home. They celebrate the festival of lights, happiness and warmth. A festival that has many stories behind its origin, from different Indian religions including Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.
We have always seen the shiny bright lights, festival sales, and the happy rush of Diwali but have we wondered about the not-so-shiny parts of this festival? Let’s spend a few minutes talking about things regarding Diwali that we don’t usually talk about:
1) Holiday Stress:
While the holiday season brings in feelings of love and cheer, it can also bring in a lot of stress. This stress can be triggered by a huge workload, spending too much, eating too much or too little, being in a crowded or an isolated house or simply being away from home. Holiday stress can creep in and meddle with the fun and frolic of our time.
2) Far away from home:
As we open the door to a warm house many are out there are entering an empty house alone this Diwali. Work and academics take many of us away from home and we end up in a totally different city where the culture and people may be completely different from the people we have back at home. The inability to go back home and reunite with our family and friends can take a toll on us.
3) Keeping up with social standards:
As we shift hastily towards capitalism, Diwali has become a major target for companies to earn profits. As consumers we are affected by this and end up spending more than our plan and/or budget just to keep up with the social standards, which also keep on increasing with every passing year. The materialization of the festival creates a lot of issues, economically and mentally for an individual.
4) The ‘have nots’:
There are a lot of people who do not have the basic amenities required to celebrate a fulfilling Diwali or even live a normal life. These are the people who work in order to make our Diwali happier while they go back to bed with half-full stomachs in dimly lit homes. There are also people who have been abandoned by their own families and live a life completely on their own, deprived of familial bonds.
5) The environment:
We have heard everyone talking about this particular point and some of us also have gotten enough of it, but there is a need to understand the urgency of taking responsibility for climate change. Bursting crackers in Diwali not only harms the environment but also creates problems for the animals and a lot of people who suffer from respiratory disorders. The extremely loud noises made by firecrackers can cause headaches and harm a lot of people.
There are some steps that we can take in order to make our Diwali happier for ourselves and along with it make it happier for the people and the environment around us. Here is how we can make a change:
● Take it easy, acknowledge our feelings and accept the fact that humans are imperfect and hence our celebrations may be imperfect too. We need not stress over responsibilities because in the end we are going to have a great time with our family and end up making beautiful memories.
● It can be very difficult to stay away from our family during festivals but we can try to accept why we need to be where we are. We can take breaks and when you are done with your work make yourself feel like home. Go out with friends or invite them over and have your own little Diwali away from home. Smile, and surround yourself with all your loved ones.
● Remember that Diwali is about emotions. There’s no need to merge this beautiful festival with materialization. We can refrain from spending more than what we have planned and crossing over our budget. Else we will only end up stressing ourselves about finances and not be able to enjoy the festival completely. All we need is love and warmth in a house full of people we love for Diwali.
● Let’s think beyond the four walls of our house this Diwali. We can think about society and how we can give back with whatever we have. We can go to that old age home or that orphanage in the city and celebrate with the people there. We can give gifts to our employees. We need not throw away the things we don’t need or the clothes that we have grown out of, instead, we can give them to the people who need these things. This way we will not only light up their Diwali but also light up their hearts with warmth.
● Keep in mind that climate change is a reality, whether we accept it or not, before lighting up that firecracker. Can’t we switch to greener ways to celebrate Diwali? After all, we do love that dog we feed every morning on the way to work and the old uncle in the neighbourhood, we could hurt them both by lighting up firecrackers.
Let’s take a pledge to celebrate this Diwali with inclusion. Include the environment, the less fortunate, the ones away from home and our own mental well-being. Let’s call our loved ones for a group hug and have a bright and warm Diwali, by lighting up people’s faces smiles rather than lighting up firecrackers.