A different Diwali

DC | SAMYUKTHA K.
Published Oct 18, 2014, 5:31 am IST
Updated Jan 13, 2016, 3:53 pm IST
The message this Diwali is about helping others and the planet
Hyderabad: With the “Festival of Light” fast becoming a festival of smoke, pollution, sound and crass display of wealth, people from different sections of society have come forward to remind us of what Diwali is really about.
 
Campaigning for the ‘light of love’
 
A child holds up a placard that reads, “Your smoke chokes me”; another one’s note reads “Asthma attack, last year. Spare me this year.” These kids have become the faces of a new social awakening that Diwali seems to have brought this year. 
 
One of the biggest festivals of the year, the Festival of Light, a celebration of “knowledge over ignorance” and “good over evil”, has become a vehicle for a larger change and Hyderabad is on board.
In the city, a post that has gone viral on social media reads: “When you burst firecrackers, give some to your watchman so he can give it to his kids. You don’t need so many anyways. When you ask your maid to clean the house, stand beside her and help her with her work, she will be cleaning two houses this Diwali.”  
 
ONLINE PLEDGE GETS REAL
 
And this is not just a post that people are hitting the “share” button for. It has turned into a pledge.
 
“Of course I am going to be doing all the things stated in the post. Even if I celebrate or not, I have pledged to buy sweets and some crackers for the children of my subordinates at work. I also ensure that I celebrate the festival with those who live around my society. For kids, these are small pleasures that should not be taken away, especially not because they cannot afford it,” says Beena Naidu Kosana, a working professional.
 
Meanwhile, another social media pledger, Rina Hindocha, whose family runs a fashion label, says, “As a family, we have decided not to spend too much on crackers. It’s a waste.” 
 
Rina adds, “So with that amount we plan to dress up a few kids who live in slums, a few kilometres from where we stay.”
She says that the kids of her watchmen and maids who work around their colony will be “included in the puja too”.
 
Photo campaign for change
 
The photo campaign that has caught the attention of the nation, interestingly, takes on the “prestige” mentality of Indians when it comes to buying sweets and crackers. The notes read: “It’s October and your AC is still on! Say no to crackers”, “The Earth has enough problems already. Say no to crackers.” “Wasteful, Harmful, Pointless. Why burn your money on crackers.”
 
The man behind the campaign is Gurmeet Sapal, a Ghaziabad filmmaker who works on ecology and wildlife. “When the whole country is singing the tune of a clean India, why don’t we start with the first step of reducing waste,” he says.
 
Having put together the initial few photographs with the help of his wife, his son, the children in his building and their neighbours; the photo campaign is now taking off on a different tangent with several people adding their own takes to the album.
 
“For years I have made films on the subject of environment. But then doing films is one thing and making a change is another. So it was a conscious decision to move towards making a change. And it starts with me, an individual, then my family, my neighbours and then the country and the world. The idea was to just give a push and fortunately, that’s all that the people needed to resonate with the thought,” he says.
 
Gurmeet, however, is clear that “this campaign does not tell people not to have fun. It just pushes people to be aware of the impact of the fun you choose to have.”
 
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