Three-year-old Tvarita Mota listens to her father as he reads aloud the request put up by the temple authorities on the notice board of Ram Mandir at Wadala. The notice requests devotees to celebrate a “No-cracker Diwali” so that everyone can breathe clean air during the festival.
“We had last burst crackers two years ago,” says Ulhas Kamath, general secretary Ram Mandir. Before that the temple authorities would burst crackers worth a lakh every Diwali.
“But two years ago, when we were bursting loud crackers to celebrate the festival, a few people working towards pollution control told us that we should help protect the environment too,” says Ashok Nayak, joint secretary of the temple trust.
“Since then, the Rs1-lakh, which was used to buy crackers, is now used to make breakfast for devotees,” says Kamath.
The breakfast is distributed among devotees after the special Kakad aarti, which is conducted at 6am every day from Dussehra till Kartik Purnima. “Earlier we would serve tea after the aarti. Now, we provide idli, medu wada, upma and sheera also,” says Kamath.
Next year, the temple authorities plan to organise a seminar to create more awareness about protecting the environment.
“I appreciate the effort. We, too, tell our son not to burst crackers as children are forced to work at these factories,” says Tapasya Sureka, who had brought her seven-year-old son to the temple. But some prefer to burst cracker, though in limit. “There has to be some bang to celebrate Diwali. Even the shastras allow it. Also, if we all stop bursting crackers, those working in this industry will lose their jobs,” says Shailesh Shanbag.