This Diwali, give away… to get

Surjit Singh Flora

DIWALI is one of the largest and most popular festivals in India. My appeal to all is: Be a Santa Claus this Diwali! Indians have a habit of spending a lot on festivals, especially on crackers on Diwali. It is a total waste of money, and creates noise and air pollution. It is also sometimes a source of water pollution. The money we spend on fireworks should be given to the poor in the form of food and clothes.

Fireworks and oil lamps also cause damage. Many houses even get burnt down. Today, we are causing damage to others. Is this the spirit of Diwali? These days the fireworks aren’t what they used to be. They are now basically explosives, and there has been a lot of mishandling of crackers across the global. Medical research in recent years is finding evidence that burning crackers causes pollution that may lead to diseases like cancer, asthma and TB. More among us are becoming victims of such diseases.

Also, the tonnes of stuff we buy! Stuff we never use after the first time, stuff we get bored of. Instead of piling it up for one more year, donate it to someone in need.

We know the significance Diwali holds for the Hindus. Sikhs express their happiness by lighting a lamp, and on Diwali, Guru Hargobind Sahib, the sixth Guru, reached Amritsar by releasing 52 prisoners from Gwalior Fort. Guru Sahib was disbanded by Mughal emperor Jahangir in the fort of Gwalior.

Buddhists and Jains also celebrate Diwali. In fact, the festival today has come to be recognised as a truly global festival. It is celebrated in every city, every town and every village, but the glory of the city of Amritsar is different. The Diwali of Amritsar is visible. Millions of people come here to celebrate the day.

In Canada, Hindu and Sikh communities celebrate it, promoting cross-religious goodwill.

In 2003, Diwali was celebrated for the first time in the White House and was officially recognised by the US Congress in 2007. President Obama joined in at the 2009 Diwali celebrations in the White House. San Antonio’s annual Diwali in Texas has seen up to a lakh celebrants.

Let us all agree to celebrate Diwali without pollution and spend the money thus saved on social projects. Give money to the hungry and clothes to the needy. Buy books for poor students. Pay a student’s education fee for a year, so he/she doesn’t have to drop out of school due to financial difficulties. Our little bit may help fight hunger, lack of access to education or medical care. With our support, our communities will get better access to education, one-to-one support and growth opportunities, confidence, courage and life skills. In giving we beget peace, calmness and happiness.

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