New, pricey crackers and old favourites lure buyers, but the accent is on eco-friendly this year
The festival of lights is here. Diwali shopping is currently at its peak in the city. The cracker market at Mohammad Ali Road is a hive of activity, as crackers fly off the shelves.
Last Diwali, the Queen’s Necklace had extra sheen for the festival. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Music and smoke-free
The latest crackers this year are a musical five colour firework, low-smoke snake and 3-D (dimension) rain to name a few. Tanwar Ahmed, a firework seller says, “Every year, manufacturers introduce new crackers, which are more environment-friendly. Low smoke and noiseless is the criteria, buyers look out for."
Celebration with family and friends makes the festival come alive. Pic/Sameer Markande
Prasad Maheja, another seller says, “The 1,000 Sky Shot which was the most expensive cracker last year at R 10,000, is being sold for Rs 15,000, this year. The firework goes on for almost 45 minutes to an hour. It is also more a visual spectacle and is less noisy. There is a 500 Sky Shot version as well for R 10,000. The fireworks produce five colour stars in the sky.”
Nitin Shetty and An eco-Diwali celebration in Powai, last year
Talking about the other new crackers, Manish Rao, a seller adds, “Ice Cold, a cracker which forms sparkles and stars costs Rs 1,000. Choco Mania — which forms multi-colour stars, is for Rs 3,000. These crackers go on for about 30 minutes.”
While new crackers are big lures, the old are also favourites with buyers. “The bottle rockets, sparklers, rassi bombs, flower pots, and ground snails are the old favourites and people buy them in bulk. The atom bomb, musical sparklers and rain as well as the guns are also being bought in bulk as well at discounted prices,” adds Maheja.
Sejal Devkar, who works for a security management firm says, “My mother is Maharashtrian and my father is Gujarati, so we celebrate two Diwalis — the Maharashtrian, a day prior and the other one. Going to the temple, making sweets, distributing them to the neighbours, bursting crackers with friends and family every evening, is how we celebrate.”
“We choose crackers that are environment-friendly so we stick to sparklers, rain and snail. Many senior citizens and young children live in the vicinity, noisy fireworks are injurious to their health,” says Devkar. For 70-year-old Divakar Prabhu, Malad resident Diwali has always been about family, friends and God. He says, “When I was small, Diwali was about making diyas and sweets, sharing them with friends and relatives.
Now the festival has become very commercial and is all about spending money and buying things. People don’t even perform pujas anymore. “I meet my friends who are all senior citizens and we remember the good old days when Diwali was well and truly the festival of lights. Now the sound and air pollution are highlights of the celebration,” adds Prabhu.
Choosing not to burst crackers this year, Nitin Shetty, 26, Chembur resident will donate the money to charity. He says, “I always loved bursting crackers but after visiting an orphanage for a social awareness camp, I realised that many children don’t have the basics. I decided that I would donate the money I spend on crackers and shopping. The true celebration of a festival is by giving to others.”
Spearheaded by youth, residents in Powai will be having a peaceful and colourful Diwali. “Every year, we try to stay away from the noise and pollution of the festival. Diwali is an important festival which can be celebrated by simply lighting lamps and enjoying time with family.
If every person stops or lowers the number of crackers they burst every year, they will be protected from a number of pollution related problems,” says Elsie Gabriel from Young Environmentalists, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) that works for environment awareness.
Graffiti will be used in the suburb to celebrate Diwali the ecologically balanced way. A large white cloth canvas will be tied and residents will paint their messages and pledges to have an environmentally safe festival.
Godwin Lobo, eminent graffiti artist who will be leading the eco-Diwali crusaders in Powai today says, “The major concern is global warming.
Crackers contain a large number of chemicals that have an adverse effect on health. There can be hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleeping disturbances, asthma, skin-allergies, eye-related and respiratory problems. Colourful and articulate graffiti has the ability to evoke an emotional response and make proactive changes.”