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The dark side of colourful festivals

Whether it is Christmas, Holi, Eid or Diwali, festivals are meant to be celebrated with togetherness and inclusivity. Many festivals have religious origins and entwine cultural and religious significance in the activities performed. Festivals are usually celebrated with family and friends, and are supposed to spread good cheer. But sometimes, they are used as occasions to indulge in anti-social activities, harass people, particularly women, and create unruly scenes.

Be it Diwali or Holi or Ganpati Visarjan, or other festivals, people end up harming the environment and creating problems for others. For instance, Diwali is a festival of lights – it is a day symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. But the way people still burst crackers is really amazing and disgusting!

Waking up the next day to the foul smell of smoke, and roads littered with the remains of firecrackers is a nightmare. And that is not all. Every year, there are so many instances of fires breaking out on Diwali because of crackers. The damage done to the environment is immense – even the courts have stepped in, but the problem persists. Moreover, the acrid smoke causes many health problems. India sees a whopping 30%-40% increase in respiratory and pulmonary tract diseases during and after Diwali celebrations.

And then there are the PoP Ganpati idols that are pushed into lakes and ponds for the visarjan. They affect marine life by making the water cloudy and interfering with oxygen levels. The pollution of water bodies caused thus is immense.

It is the same story on Holi. Some people use it as an excuse to indulge in hooliganism. The sexual

harassment of women, even tourists, is so rampant, it makes one ashamed of being an Indian. Moreover, some people use low-quality colours that cause skin damage. And some also smear animals with colour, which is very harmful for them. With the increasing activism through social media posts before festivals like Holi and Diwali, telling people not to put gulal on animals and not to burst crackers near their habitat, there is some awareness about this, but it is not enough.

Other than this, there are festivals that involve physically harming animals. Animals are tortured and

killed in the name of age-old traditions. For instance, cock fighting is ‘celebrated’ as a festival in

some parts of our country. Roosters are made to fight with one another, which harms them and

injures them badly. How can this be allowed?

Parading elephants in various festivals, particularly in Kerala, is again something that causes immense trauma to the poor creatures. The mahouts are often cruel, tormenting the elephants and forcing them to stand for hours and put up grand shows. The deafening noise that the elephants have to tolerate is so bad, one can only imagine the torture they must be going through. All this in the name of religion!

It is high time we learnt to celebrate festivals in the right spirit, without harming the environment, harassing others, harming animals, and harming our own selves.

By Saanvi Patra

Saanvi is a 15-year-old who enjoys writing, reading, sketching and classical dance. She hopes to make a positive impact on society as she grows up.

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