One of the biggest celebrations in India centres on the festival of Diwali, celebrating the victory of good over evil. Its name translating to ‘row of lamps’, Diwali has come to be known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ around the world. Amongst a number of rituals that are associated with the festival is bursting of crackers and play of fireworks to light up the surroundings, standing for the replacement of darkness with light. The ritual, however, has started interfering with the environment of the country, with government taking measures to encourage people to celebrate the festival in all ways but this.
If you are in India for marking Diwali, take a step towards sustainable tourism by avoiding participation in bursting of crackers and instead focussing on learning about other ways to celebrate the festival. This one step will show that you not only respect the local culture and traditions but are also sympathetic towards the countries’ burning issues. Here are top things you can do for an eco-friendly Diwali:
Feast with a Local Family
The maddening obsession with crackers has somewhat taken attention away from the true spirit of the festival – the whole family getting together and participating in Diwali rituals collectively. If you are in India, ask your local host or a friend to introduce you to some of these rituals including worshipping of goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha, playing of cards, lighting of earthen lamps called ‘diyas’ as well as distribution of sweets and gifts amongst friends and family. End the day by gorging on sumptuous home-made Diwali feast and you’ll have some everlasting memories of the day.
Visit a Temple
Like most houses in north India, all temples are also beautifully-lit up in order to mark the festivities. For a spiritual experience beyond words, you can participate in the evening prayer ceremonies at one of these temples. As the chants in praise of God surge in volume and the incense fills up the room with its sweet smell, you’ll have a surreal encounter, capable of leaving you with goose bumps.
While Diwali is one of the biggest celebrations in the country, it is not a happy times for animals in the country who are exposed to noise of crackers and toxic fumes emitted by firecrackers. A number of animals, especially dogs, are prone to agitation, disorientation, anxiety, seizures and myocardial infractions during the festival. One of the best ways to celebrate the festival is to protect the stray animals from any harm that may come their way and offering them immediate first aid in case of an attack. Keep the numbers of local animal shelters handy in case you are unable to provide assistance yourself.
Plant a Tree
India’s pollution levels are at a point of concern and the festival of Diwali only aggravates the situation as huge amounts of smoke laced with toxic chemicals is let out into the atmosphere in one night. To ensure that you do your bit for the environment, you could participate in one of the environment drives in the country instead. Most of these drives encourage participants to plant trees and to opt for eco-friendly ways of celebrating the festival.