It’s wonderful to connect with you yet again. India is the land of festivals and as India gears up for its biggest and most popular festival, we are delighted to bring to you a few points.
Cracker Free Diwali
Though lighting a bomb or ladi may seem exciting but hey we cant harm the people and our environment for our fun. Isn’t it? When these crackers are burst, the air gets charged with partially combusted low volatile organic compounds which remain suspended in the atmosphere for several days. This is deadly for not just asthmatics, but causes breathing difficulties in anyone, warn experts.So there a lot of campaigns by the young and old alike that favor burning fat and not crackers! Isn’t it amazing that children are acting as the influencers and convincing their family members against burning crackers.
World Environment Day: Connecting people to nature
Ill effects of air pollution
According to a report on global air quality by the Health Effects Institute, air pollution led to the deaths of an estimated 1.1 million people in India in 2015. Delhi, considered among India’s worst cities in terms of air quality, is on the front line in battling these harmful effects.
The microscopic particles, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, are considered particularly harmful because they are small enough to lodge deep into the lungs and pass into other organs, causing serious health risks.
The World Health Organization considers a PM2.5 density above 25 micrograms per cubic meter within a 24-hour period as unsafe. In Delhi, an “emergency” level is anything above 300. In the previous years, the average level of PM 2.5 in Delhi was 130+.
Read our post on International Biodiversity day: Tips to promote Sustainable Tourism
In the following table we summarize the deadly effects and measures to fight higher PM 2.5 concentration.
PM 2.5 concentration (in Micrograms per cubic meter)
|Category||Additional Measures implemented in the past|
Moderate to Poor
Enforce firework ban
Advise respiratory/cardiac patients to avoid going outdoors
Reduce operations of coal-based power plants
Odd even scheme
Factors that affect Pollution in Delhi
Though firecrackers aggravate pollution in Delhi but they are seasonal in nature. However, all year around there are various reasons that make Delhi’s air unfit for breathing. Let’s have a look at a few major factors that affect Delhi’s air.
Contribution of cars to pollution in Delhi
A research report by IIT Kharagpur has found that emission by Delhi’s 10 million vehicles contribute to 20% PM2.5 level annually.
Crop burning season
Delhi’s geography is such that it is surrounded by industrial hubs and agricultural hubs. An agricultural practice of burning the agricultural fields in order to prepare them for the next season of crops is practiced widely and illegally in these hubs. This means that Delhi gets a bulk of stubble burning pollution and since Delhi is not sea facing unlike Chennai or Mumbai, the pollution stays in the air for a longer period of time. According to a report, one ton of burning straw releases 3 kg of particulate matter (PM 10, PM 2.5) and 1460 kg of Carbon Dioxide.
Diwali 2016 versus Diwali 2017
Last year Diwali saw an alarming level of pollution (8x above the permissible levels)and a smog over Delhi for many days after Diwali. The situation was compared with Gas chambers as well.
The Government has taken a slew of measures this time that aim to avoid the repetition of previous year’s pollution levels.
Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)- Instituted in December 2016, the main objective of GRAP is to institutionalize measures to tackle air pollution emergencies, giving a clear direction of steps to be taken by central and state authorities.
Build up to Diwali
Diwali celebrations are spread across a period of five days with each day having its own significance and traditional rituals that are followed. The celebrations kickstart with ‘Dhanteras’, the auspicious day on which people buy utensils, silver ware or gold.
It is believed that new “Dhan” or some form of precious metal bought on this auspicious day is a sign of good luck and prosperity. Choti Diwali follows next, which involves preparations for the Badi Diwali. People start decorating their houses with lights, and hold get-togethers. The next day is the Badi Diwali, the main festive day.
On this day, people perform laxmi puja, visit each other’s houses with sweets and gifts, burn fire crackers and spend time with their family and friends. The day after Diwali is celebrated as Govardhan Puja and finally the five-day celebration comes to an end with Bhai Dooj where sisters apply tilak on their brother’s forehead and siblings pray for each other’s well-being.
Read our previous blog on how to celebrate Dussehra with an Indian family: Celebrating Dussehra with a BnB Host
Summarizing Diwali events:
- Dhanteras 2017: 17th October 2017
- Choti Diwali 2017 : 18th October 2017
- Diwali 2017: 19th October 2017
- Govardhan Puja 2017: 20th October
- Bhai Dooj 2017: 21st October
Thus, since India is the land of festivals, we can surely do without crackers, isn’t it?
Tips for Foreign travelers
If you are traveling to India during Diwali you must stay with an Indian family to experience the rich Indian traditions and customs followed during Diwali. Families conduct a puja and send a letter to God to request divine blessings.
Our last year’s blog will give you a fair idea on how to celebrate Diwali with an Indian family in an Indian home: Diwali the perfect time to be in India with a BnB host
Precautions to take:
- Goes without saying, Do not burn crackers!
- Stay indoors
- Do not skip your medicines
- Have loads of water as it cleanses the system
- Carry / wear mask when you step out.
Sources of inspiration: