PUDUCHERRY: The atmosphere during Deepavali is synonymous with light and sound of firecrackers.
However, for people of Keezhuperumpakkam, a small village on the outskirts of Puducherry on the East Coast Road in Villupuram district, it means celebration sans the noise and light of fireworks, a practice that has been ongoing here for 4-5 decades.
But if you think the villagers keep off fireworks to ‘go green’, think again. The village stays away from crackers to protect the population of bats in the village. Bats, the villagers believe, are torch-bearers of good fortune and bring happiness to the village. “We do not burst crackers, neither do we allow our children to do so. We ensure that nothing is done to scare the bats away,” says Rajagopal, an elderly person living in the village. The festival is celebrated with religious gaiety, new clothes, sweets and special food, he adds. “My father has told me not to burst crackers and I have advised my children. They in turn have advised theirs,” he points out. Village lore has it that ever since the bats were noticed in the village — where agriculture is the predominant occupation — the village has been receiving a good quantum of rain and water in its channels. Even during the tsunami or Thane cyclone, when the adjoining areas experienced severe damage, the village remained largely disaster-free, says Rajagopal. The villagers attribute this good fortune to the presence of bats.
All year bursting of crackers is avoided. The bat population has also grown, but these bats stay put to one Banyan tree and no one disturbs them. This belief has been passed on from generations and the practice is being observed till date.