Forget About The Debate Over Diwali Firecrackers Ban, Do You Know Where They Came From?

News World India | 0
| October 12 , 2017 , 15:25 IST

In modern times, the concept of firecrackers is almost synonymous with the festival of lights, Diwali. The recent Supreme Court ruling, banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR region until November 1, that is until after Diwali, drew several protests from the public who said that the legal system was interfering with the celebration of Diwali, one of the most important festivals of Hindu religion. The apex court's decision was made in light of the heavy smog and pollution that is left behind firecrackers, but protesters converted the environmental issue into one of religious politics.

But does the festival of lights, Diwali, really necessitate the bursting of pollution-creating firecrackers?

Diwali is celebrated as the day Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. In anticipation of his arrival, all of Ayodhya was decorated with diyas and lights, symbolic of light winning over darkness.

ALSO READ: No Firecrackers This Diwali! Supreme Court Restores Ban in Delhi-NCR

During Diwali celebrations, Hindus around the world thoroughly clean their homes, decorate them with lights and diyas, use powdered colours to create beautiful rangolis, wear new clothes, prepare sweet dishes, conduct pujas and visit with family and friends. The modern association we have of firecrackers with Diwali has never been seen in mythology, where the focus has been on lights only.  

Apart from Hindus, Diwali is also celebrated by Jains, and Sikhs and Newar Buddhists. Although there are different stories behind the celebrations, the common theme is the victory of light over dark, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. Another common factor is, none of the celebrations have any historical mention of firecrackers.

Indian poets, while writing on Diwali celebrations, all mention the lighting of lamps and lights, but none mention any firecrackers. Even the Persian historian and traveller Al Biruni in his 11th-century memoir on India describes the celebration of Diwali but does not mention any firecrackers.

Firecrackers were invented in medieval China in the 7th century and they were designed to be loud and bright so as to chase away evil spirits. Important festivals such as the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival generally included firecrackers.

ALSO READ: We Welcome Supreme Court's Firecracker Ban, Here's Why You Should Too!

The fame of the Chinese firecrackers spread and they became immensely popular around the mid-17th century. As the popularity of firecrackers spread, the British Imperial's fascination with them reached an all-time high during the 17th and 18th centuries. Spectacular shows using firecrackers of all shapes and sizes would be organised in front of palaces and community gatherings.

The popularity of firecrackers grew and they became associated with celebrations, which is likely why they became associated with the celebration of Diwali. In the early 19th century, due to increased public demand for firecrackers, Das Gupta set up India's first firecrackers factory In Kolkata. In the early 20th century, the firecrackers industry shifted its base to Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu and is now the second largest in the world, after China.

India does not export any firecrackers due to dangers in packing and storage.