Small groups of responsible Bangaloreans are doing their bit to spread awareness about a cracker-free Diwali. While some have taken a conscious decision not to burst crackers, there are others who have started small campaigns to drive the message home.
A Facebook group, The Diwali Cracker Challenge, is encouraging people to think beyond the momentary pleasure of bursting a cracker and to light up someone's life with the money instead.
"They can do anything with the cracker money. They can donate it to a charity, buy a gift for a less fortunate person, toys for an orphanage, clothes and vintage music for an old age home, food supplies for an animal shelter or anything else that appeals to each individual," says Jayaprakash Satanmurthy, a freelance writer, who started this group recently with his wife Yasmine Claire.
On their page, you can post a picture of yourself and also write a small description of your gesture.
For many years the couple was troubled by the heedlessness with which the festival was celebrated in the city. "The noise, fumes, the way noise scares animals, the plight of the underage workers who slave away in unsafe, toxic environments —there were so many things that bothered us. Isn't it time we truly lived up to the spirit of creating more light and driving out the shadows? We need to celebrate the power of community by reaching out to those less fortunate than us. This seemed like a positive way to switch the focus from fireworks to something meaningful," says Jayaprakash.
The idea of starting a group came about when Yasmine started encouraging people on social networking sites to rethink the idea of noisy celebrations.
And then many people joined the couple in the initiative.
Take the example of Ranjini Shettigar, who makes diyas with the help of tribal women and then puts the money she earns from the initiative right back into their welfare.
"It's so satisfying to see the joy in their eyes. Every blessing from them is such a pleasure. The money earned is used to buy clothes, rice, wheat and oil for them," she says.
Then there is Joyline Rodrigues, who started the Bake Collective to raise funds for various causes. He regularly holds sales for muffins, chocolates, fudges, cakes, cupcakes, cookies. "This is to create the change we want to see," says Rodrigues on his Facebook page.
Celebrate Diwali with colours
A unique workshop, to be held on Sunday, will teach children and their parents how to celebrate the festival of lights with colours. Organised by Kutoohala, a creative space for children in Basavangudi, the workshop will help children make colour crackers and a collage with different art techniques.
This initiative, says founder Gayathri Tirthapura, is to entertain children just the way crackers do and in the process create a collaborative canvas. "I have a 11-year-old daughter and I don't want to deprive her of the joy of bursting crackers. She needs to learn to be responsible all by herself. It needs to come from within. Right now we may think we can control our children but later this can strain relationships," she says. And so they have made colour crackers from powdered paint, balloons, paper, yarn and glitter. These will excite the kids in the same way fire crackers do. "We have also invited parents, so that they can use these ideas next year as well," she adds. For more details about the workshop, log on to kutoohala.in or call 9611119478.