It’s that festive time of the year again – celebrations, lights, sweets, and chocolates. It’s Diwali. Unfortunately, it’s also time for the usual noise and air pollution. But you can make a difference – by opting to celebrate the festival somewhat differently this year. Wondering how? We’ve got you covered! Here are 10 ways in which you can celebrate an eco-friendly and guilt-free Diwali.
Participate in this Unique Social Media Campaign – Burst Hunger Challenge
24-year-old Saajan Abrol, a Gurgaon resident, has started a social media campaign called #BurstHungerChallenge. It’s a campaign with a twist – burst hunger, not crackers this Diwali. It works quite simply, really. Give something to a person in need – food, clothes, blankets, shoes, etc. Preferably something new, not leftovers or something you’re discarding. Take a picture or make a short video of this act of giving (yourself with the person who is receiving, or the receiver’s reaction to your gift, etc.) and share it on social media with the message “Instead of bursting crackers, I pledge to burst hunger this Diwali – I accept the #BurstHungerChallenge.” Challenge five of your friends to do the same by tagging them in the post. Participate here and here.
In Hyderabad, Use This Website to Order Your Crackers – They Plant a Tree for Every Order
Vishwajeeth Vangala, a 26-year-old Hyderabad based software engineer, will not only help you save money when buying crackers but also help the environment in the process. On noticing the huge gap between the manufacturing price and selling price, Vishwajeeth decided to start an e-commerce website for crackers. Started in 2014, ‘Hitech crackers‘ sells these products at half the rate or less compared to general stalls in the market. But last year, Vishwajeeth and his team were not quite satisfied with selling crackers, which pollute the environment. So they donated all the money made from the website to the Cyclone Hudhud Relief Fund. And with this year’s sales, they are planning to install water purifier plants in rural Telangana. They also plant a tree for every order placed. As of now, they deliver in Hyderabad and Warangal only.
Light up the Lives of Many Marginalised Children in the Country
Photo Credit: Abhinaba Basu/Flickr
Indians living abroad and celebrating Diwali have a chance to buy earthen lamps that can actually light up the lives of many children in the country. Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India has launched the Ekal Deep project – over 500 children from village schools of about five districts around Allahabad have made decorative diyas under this project. More than 75,000 such diyas have been packed in sets of five and dispatched to the US and other countries in Southeast Asia that have a large population of Indians. The funds raised from the sales of these diyas will be utilised for the future of these marginalised children. Ekal Foundation works with nearly 54,000 schools across India.
Think out-of-the-Box When Going Diwali Shopping
Photo Credit: Sunciti _ Sundaram/Flickr
If you absolutely must buy crackers this Diwali, then try to ensure you buy from those companies that do not employ child labour in the manufacturing process. Many manufacturers print a declaration on the packet: ‘No child labour was employed in manufacturing of this firework.’ You could look for such labels. And when it comes to buying earthen lamps, go for those being made by different NGOs across the country, so the money you spend will actually help people in need. Muskaan foundation, an NGO working with differently-abled kids, offers many products suitable for Diwali – diyas, decorations, and more. So does School of Hope in Jamshedpur, which also works with differently-abled people. Or you could simple take a cue from Indian army soldiers in Delhi and decide to stay away from bursting crackers this year. Celebrate a green Diwali, maybe?
Bengal’s Diwali Will Be the Quietest. Follow This State’s Example in Your Neighbourhood
Photo Credit: Nachiket Kapre/Flickr
Bengal is all set to celebrate the nation’s quietest Diwali this year. While the Supreme Court has capped the decibel level for firecrackers at 125 decibels across the country, the State Pollution Control Board in Bengal has taken matters a step further and capped the noise level at 90 decibels. According to a Hindustan Times report, the eastern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) gave a free hand to this Board to set the upper noise limit in West Bengal, and it chose 90. Thus, most firecrackers will be banned in the state. While the noise limit might be higher in your state, you can still make a personal choice and select crackers that make less noise.
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Engage Children in Activities Much More Interesting than Bursting Crackers
Photo Credit: Gursimran Sibia/Flickr
It’s Diwali. And it should be celebrated. But is bursting crackers the only way to do so? Both children and adults can be engaged in many different activities and spend the day in a more fruitful manner. For example, gather all the children in your building/society and take them for a nature walk the day before Diwali. Ask them to bring along their cameras, musical instruments, and even drawing books if they want. Spend some time observing the biodiversity in the nearest garden, park or field. And then get down to collecting dry leaves, grass, twigs, and more. On Diwali day, get these things together and organize a community bonfire in a common area. A self-made bonfire that also helps kids learn something about nature – now that’s truly eco-friendly!
Go Green When Planning Your Rangoli
Photo Credit: Rajesh_India/Flickr
If you plan to make rangoli on Diwali, make sure you use organic and eco-friendly colours. Instead of using dyes and colours available in the market, just use what you have at home – turmeric for yellow and vermillion for red. You can also use flower petals, dried leaves, ground beetroot for a maroon mix, dried orange peels, etc. Look around and let your imagination loose.
How about making Diwali a day of other people’s happiness?
Photo Credit: Vinoth Chandar/Flickr
Dress up. Pack a lot of sweets. And go out. Change Diwali into the day when you make other people happy. Go to your nearest old age home or an orphanage. Visit the people there, spend some time with them. Light diyas, distribute sweets and make it a happy day for them. Or maybe pack some food and distribute it among those who are spending Diwali homeless on the streets. It’s the festival of lights after all. How about spreading some joy?
Don’t Buy Sweets from Just Any Shop
Photo Credit: Anshu/Flickr
Sweets, sweets and more sweets! Diets usually go for a toss during Diwali while we guiltily indulge ourselves. How about alleviating some of that guilt by purchasing sweets from shops that employ differently abled people? Like the Suswaad Sweets and Savouries shop in Chennai that gives employment opportunities to differently abled people. Also, try and avoid getting your sweets packaged in plastic bags or cardboard boxes. Instead, re-use the bags and boxes you have at home.
Or, just go Old School and Make Sweets at Home
Photo Credit: Rishabh Mathur/Flickr
Don’t forget your health in the noise of festivities. Why go for those sugar-overload sweets when you can make something healthier and tastier at home? Like the humble kheer that needs just milk, rice and some sugar. Or go for the delicious gajar halwa – loads of health packed with mouth-watering taste. Just add some milk to grated carrots in a pressure cooker and cook for two whistles. Then add milk powder, sugar and cardamom powder and cook for three to four minutes while stirring continuously.
Have more ideas? Add on in the comments!