In Odisha, there are two reasons why people celebrate Diwali, except the entertainment purpose. One is for the tradition and another is an environmental reason. As per the Diwali traditions, I had seen in my childhood, we used to burn jute sticks after doing a Puja for the ancestors of the family, cooking different types of traditional cakes and sweets, using these cakes and sweets in Puja along with pieces of sugarcane and other fruits and after doing the puja, everyone eating those together. I don’t remember whether we used to draw rangolies in our home during Diwali. But we used to draw jhotis (a simpler Odia version of rangolies) on a small circular region prepared with some special red coloured soil on the street in front of the house, where we burn those jute sticks. We also used to draw jhotis in one room, where we do puja with those food; we put those food items over it. We used to light earthen lamps with oil and cotton burner. Even we used light candles, though lighting candles were not in the tradition. I don’t know when these candles took the place of earthen lamps, but it must be more than 25 years. And we used to play with some fireworks.
People say, we celebrate Diwali (with lights and fireworks) to celebrate arrival of Lord Ram in Ajodhya on this day. The environmental reason behind this is, insects get attracted to the lights and they get killed in the fire of the light. So, they don’t harm cultivation. Whatever be the reason, Diwali is an awesome festival – celebration of lights. And it should be the celebration of lights, not the celebration of noise pollution and environment pollution.
These days, people are influenced by other parts of India in celebrating Diwali. They draw beautiful rangolies in their homes, offices etc. They gift their friends and relatives with sweets, dry fruits and other gifts. And they are also buying gold, silver or some other stuff for their home to be blessed in Dhanteras.
When I was living in Chennai, I noticed that they don’t light earthen lamps or candles. They only celebrate with a lot of fireworks. And in those two years, I did not see any rise in the number of insects during these months. I guess because of the climate Chennai has, it’s not suitable for the insects to grow during these months. So, they don’t have the environment reason to celebrate Diwali. So, probably because of this, they don’t light earthen lamps or candles and only celebrate with a lots of fireworks. Also, Sivakasi, they city which makes a lot of fireworks in Tamil Nadu.
But here in Odisha, the rise in the number of insects during this month was a real headache. And after Diwali, their numbers get decreased by 80%, 20% still manage to survive. But in last couple of years, I hardly see those insects. I guess they don’t survive anymore due to global warming and an increased use of pesticides. So, I don’t have the environmental reason to celebrate Diwali.
Still, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate Diwali. Diwali is the festival of lights and happiness. It adds a reason to spend some time with your family. And if you light earthen lamps, it’ll help poor families which make those earthen lamps and cotton burners. Some fireworks bring happiness too. So enjoy some fireworks, which gives you colourful light. Please don’t use those fireworks which creates a lot of pollution and noise pollution. Have a great, prosperous and blessed Diwali. Enjoy!