Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Diwali is the festival of lights. It comes from the words Deepa and Avali meaning 'row of lights'. Year after year my school essays on Diwali would start the same way, as mandated by the English teacher. I would write similar essays everytime and have red circles around the same words every year; just around the words Diwali, Deepa and Avali, starting from the title itself. I still don't know why I got these words wrong. Till class 9 or so, I loved diwali; one day when you eat loads of sweets streaming into your house from the neighbourhood, and do nothing but play with firecrackers starting 10 days before till the big day. At some point of time, I realised that Diwali meant nothing but air pollution, noise pollution and littering of the streets; literally millions of rupees going up in smoke in just one day. Also, this industry is the biggest in India which employs child labour without the government being able to do anything. I realised this and stopped buying, bursting crackers or even getting them as gifts.

Chennai was very dry during the year and for a couple of weeks it would rain, for the monsoon and the cyclone. Diwali was one of the few holidays that experienced rain. Every year the neighbourhood kids would get up early in the morning for bursting crackers and just when sun comes up, it would rain heavily and we all would run home crying. We would always ask why it rains only during diwali and not on the other days. Nowadays it doesn't rain even during diwali in Chennai. It was also the season for new clothes. Since my birthday used to come at the same week as Diwali (now there is atleast a three week gap), it was a bummer when I could wear new clothes on two days and only one would get noticed.

Diwali is in 2 days and it rained very heavily for about 15 minutes today here, bringing back memories. Wishing you all a very happy and safe diwali. Just remember this, each cracker you are playing with was made by a 12 year old kid who is being held in bondage and is not allowed to go to school, even if the parents are willing. I don't know how the fireworks units in Sivakasi export to the EU and USA employing children.

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