Lighting the Green Lamp this Diwali

Oct 29, 2015, 12:43 IST

Decked up family members, relatives, friends… spick and span homes and offices… lit up interior and exterior spaces… sweets and celebrations… good conversation and cheer! There’s a lot that this festival of lights, signifying victory of good over evil, brings us.

And just like the proverbial yin and yang, it also brings destruction of our environment and living standards year after year. We shop more, spend more and waste more. The roads are spilling with cars and plastic and food waste is on an all-time high. Traffic jams are a common sight and the chaos spells distress for people, animals and the environment alike.


Diyas pip Lamps and Lights
Electric illumination in homes, offices and on roads puts tremendous load on the power grids around Diwali. In light of the fact that many of our villages are still in darkness, it is noble to switch to traditional oil lamps.

Even though they consume oil, these lamps are usually lit for brief periods in the evening. Additionally, they are bio-degradable, cost effective, look elegant and can be used over and over again. Also, do spare a thought for our poor village potters and buy Indian, instead of Chinese, lamps.

Avoid candles, which are petroleum-based and release toxins, such as benzene, formaldehyde and lead, as they burn.


What’s all that noise?
Convincing your kids to go noiseless is a bigger challenge than convincing them to study. So, opt for eco-friendly crackers – made of recycled paper… these not only cause less pollution but also are low on decibel levels.

Once the little brats in your family have reached their teens, you can start converting them into environment crusaders by explaining to them the litter and toxicity caused by crackers. Here is a ready reckoner for what consumption of the elements in crackers leads to:

Copper: Irritates respiratory tract, leading to respiratory ailments.

Cadmium: Causes Kidney Damage. Reduces oxygen carrying capacity of blood, leading to anaemia.

Lead: Harms nervous system.

Magnesium: Causes Metal Fume fever - fever accompanied by a metallic taste in the mouth.

Zinc: Causes Metal Fume fever. Induces vomiting.

Sodium: Highly reactive element – combines with moisture in the air and on the skin to cause burns.

These elements remain in the atmosphere for long periods after the Diwali night, making sure more and more people succumb to the harm. Encourage your grown-ups to think of asthma patients, babies and the elderly. Animals, especially dogs, who can hear frequencies below 20 Hz, are traumatised with the loud noises.

Young children working with the toxic substances in firecracker factories don’t live beyond their teens due to lack of medical aid. Sensitise your kids to these realities till the earth becomes a cracker-free planet.

Propose a community celebration in a park or open space and encourage children to be part of it. The number of crackers burst goes down in large chunks and the bonhomie goes up in as many. Music programmes, puppet shows, talent shows, and other cultural events can be planned. For the ultra ‘enthu’, there’s always the lure of a dance party.


Rangoli with nature’s pallette
The concept of rangoli or kolam, traditionally, was to share food and life with insects and birds. So, the designs were made with natural food products. Kolams, even today, are made with rice paste or dry rice flour in villages down south and become a feast for ants and small birds. Opt for products from your kitchen, such as rice powder, pulses, legumes and spices. Colour can be added with turmeric, coffee powder, and kumkum for yellow, brown and red respectively.

The eco-friendly make their rangolis with leaves and flowers such as chrysanthemum, roses, lotus, etc. These products can go into the compost bin the next day without any chemicals going into the drains and landfills.





Cleaning it right
Once you’re done cleaning your house, put together the cast-away items, ditch one of the brunches and take a family trip to an NGO. You and your children will love the experience and be humbled. Playing games and sharing sweets, clothes, books, stationery, etc. with the underprivileged children is a great opportunity to give yourself a healthy dose of life’s realities and become grateful people. Listening to music from old movies and sharing good food with the old in old-age homes is actually making good use of your time.

If you’re discarding white goods, the best way to do so is to have them repaired and used by your helps, etc. Or dismantle them, remove the silicon batteries and send them to recycle bins.

Rome was not built in a day – we all need to take baby steps to make it to our goal. And remember… you’re not doing anyone a favour. You’re not trying to leave the environment intact for the next generation. Buddhism says life is eternal… You keep coming back to this world after the deep sleep of death to learn your lessons for the next lifetime. Will make a lot of sense if you leave the world a better place!