When Krsih Doshi was two years old, his parents drove him to Marine Drive on Diwali day to watch people burst crackers, light flowerpots and launch rockets. Krish had enjoyed the spectacle as firecrackers of various hues lit up the city skyline.
But, on Wednesday, Krsih, 5, his brother Purav and 49 other children, some as young as two years old, took an oath to never burst crackers. The oath was given by Panyas Indrajit Vijayji Maharaj Saheb at the Gowali Tank Jain Sangh Derasar (temple).
Every year, before Diwali, Jain children take an oath not to pollute the air by bursting firecrackers at city derasars.
“Bursting crackers can kill birds and insects. Also, as we live near a hospital, the firecrackers will pollute the air and the patients will have difficulty breathing,” said Purav Doshi, 7.
“Though children do not completely understand religion, we explain to them, through visuals, that bursting crackers is harmful. As they grow up, they understand the concept and why our religion places emphasises on it,” said Nikita Shah, 29. The homemaker had come to the temple with her two sons, aged five and six, who took the pledge.
But Yashvi Shah, who had come to the temple with her twin sisters, aged three, made her father take the pledge. “Rockets hit birds and bombs and other firecrackers kill insects. They even pollute the air. That’s why I asked my father to not burst crackers,” said the seven-year-old.
The idea to not burst firecrackers revolves around the basic principle of Jainism — Jeevdaya, which means protecting life.
“The idea was started by our Maharaj sahebs. By bursting crackers one damages the environment and hence we ask our people not to do so. There is also a religious angle. Lord Mahavir attained salvation on Diwali day, so we celebrate the festival by lighting diyas and not bursting crackers,” aid Hitesh Doshi, religion teacher at Shri Gowalia Tank Jain Sangh Derasar.
“To encourage children to follow their oath, we give them gifts after Diwali,” he added.