It further informed that this despite ‘how to celebrate Dewali safely’ educational campaigns the government has been running. I thought how many of the children playing with fireworks even know about those campaigns and even if their parents know and have cautioned them, how many of them are likely to dampen their Diwali spirit by being mindful of boring government cautions. In fact, why blame kids; even their parents put fire to bomb wicks with the innocence and unconcern that will put their children to shame.
I have nothing against fireworks in general. Some of them form extraordinary spectacle and almost all of them add to the festivity of the occasion. Except one: crackers. There is nothing beautiful or festive about them, only eardrum-shattering noise. And sadly, in the squib community, they are the most used ones. For each rocket that whistles up and bursts forming patterns against the dark sky, there are at least ten crackers that go off giving the festival evening the sound and feel of a warzone.
There is a cryptic mentality behind bursting noisy crackers. Unlike rockets and their ilk which are about delicacy and beauty, noisy crackers are aggressive and assertive. They help you announce your arrival and let others know that you couldn’t care less that the noise was bothering them. In fact, the fact that the noise could bother others makes crackers more preferable to their silent beauty-oriented cousins. There is something sadistic and macho about bursting them. As a kid, when I used to burst them together with my cousins, holding them in your hand, instead of keeping them at a safe distance, to light their wick and then throwing them with an air of nonchalance, as if unconcerned about the risk of the act, was a mark of bravery.
The older you were in the group, the closer to you and the longer you would like to keep the combustible. One of my cousins even used to go to his school and stealthily throw a bomb in a solitary corner and then see it go off from a distance and then brag about it to his friends the next day. It was his protestation against a bullying system. Can you tell me what fun the new-money types derive from bursting long rolls of slender red reed-like patakas sinking an entire neighborhood into nerve-wrecking sound?
But let me not blame crackers alone. All forms of squibs are bad in varying degrees. And their use, however warranted by the occasion of Diwali, puts others at risk. After taking off, if a rocket assumes a crooked trajectory instead of a straight one, it’s anyone’s guess what can happen. Similarly, a rangmashal or phuljhari or fire whirl can be equally dangerous to the user as also a person walking by (as the article suggested). And all this or at least a substantial bit of the risk posed to others can be avoided if only one can avoid using fireworks in neighborhoods and go to an open maidan.
But then the anonymous nature of a vast maidan would hardly help you make a point. If the government is really serious about reducing hysteria-induced injuries, it should consign its educational modules on safe Diwali to flames and simply ban the use of fireworks in public place. My celebration shouldn’t become your agony.